Ross: Planes are noisy, so are babies; what’s the big deal?

Sep 27, 2023, 8:33 AM | Updated: 9:07 am

baby plane...

DALLAS, TEXAS - DECEMBER 8, 2018: A toddler cries the seat beside his mother as they fly in an American Airlines passenger jet departing Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport which serves the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, metroplex area in Texas. (Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

(Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

The issue of airborne babies keeps coming up, and as far as I can tell, the reason it keeps coming up is that reporters find themselves near a baby on a plane, and they write about it.

Last year, an NYT reporter asked the question, “Should babies be allowed in first class?”

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One of the comments was from a retired doctor who had flown First Class to Europe, only to have to endure the screams of a baby who was also flying in first class.

He wrote, “First class is a premium space where passengers pay extra for added comfort … The presence of a baby, with their potential crying and fussing, would disrupt the peaceful atmosphere and ruin the experience for other passengers.”

So, let’s analyze this.

The cabin noise at takeoff is about 105 decibels, close to a chainsaw. You’re flying through the air at 500 miles an hour, propelled by engines spinning at 15,000 rpm. That’s about 85 decibels.  You have the ear-splitting cabin announcements, about 95 decibels. Then, there’s that barking sound on the Airbus 320 and the flush toilet that sounds like it might just suck everybody out of the cabin.

And then there are the millions of people who are nowhere near the plane but live under a flight path.

Airplanes are inherently noisy. This debate isn’t about noise. It’s about that dreaded word “privilege.” Air travel is all about buying privilege. First Class, Business Class, Premier Silver, Premier Gold, Premier Platinum.

Even though we’re all going to the same place, and we’ll all get there at the same time, and we’ll all experience the same turbulence and the same delays, the airlines have managed to sell this concept of privilege to the point some passengers actually believe they’re entitled to a special level of silence.

What First Class buys you is space, toilet proximity, and the responsibility to defend the cockpit in an emergency. It doesn’t insulate you from the collateral annoyances of perpetuating the human species.

If somebody’s flying with a baby, there’s probably a good reason. Even if it’s just to see the grandparents, which I happen to think is one of the best reasons.

And if you booked a flight knowing full well about the engine noise, the air noise, the toilet noise, the deafening announcements, and that barking sound on the Airbus 320, but it’s the crying baby that’s the deal breaker? You need to get over yourself.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Ross: Planes are noisy, so are babies; what’s the big deal?