Baby’s First Flight: Are Apology Bags Necessary?

Should we apologize or simply show kindness?

The first flight with a baby can be intimidating!

My daughter was 6 months old, it was her first time flying, and I was desperate for insider tips. Part of the fear is that some people are less than enthusiastic to see a baby on their flight.

In my Google search for ideas, I came across “apology bags”. One mom had assembled a goody bag with a note to apologize for any potential crying, ear plugs and candy, hoping to alleviate any apprehension or animosity of surrounding passengers.

My new mom self thought, “Oh, that’s such a kind way to head off the harsh looks.”

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Then I started to consider what this would actually require…how much time would this take to put together? How many would I need? What should I include? What was this going to cost me?

Further into my search I came across this recently republished article about why we shouldn’t have to apologize for our babies on the plane.

TODAY Parents editor Rebecca Dube says,

“Babies are babies, and sometimes they cry. Everyone needs to accept that reality and get over it.”

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Dube goes on to say, “It’s true, parents have a responsibility here. I’ll do everything I can to stop my baby from crying on a plane. Trust me, I hate that sound even more than you do — plus it’s four inches from my ears.” But social decorum dictates that we exchange knowing sympathetic looks and move one.

And then I thought, “She’s right, I shouldn’t have to apologize for my baby’s primary means of communication.” Nothing like the waffling mind of a new mom!

There’s no doubt that an over-the-top kindness such as this will be appreciated by those around you.

This article describes one passenger’s all too common reaction to seeing a small baby on the airplane. But after receiving a goody bag he had a Grinch-like experience. He says, "I was literally sitting there smiling. I looked around and saw at least eight other smiling faces as well."

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As I reflect on this further, I wonder if both perspectives are true and maybe there’s middle ground.

Kindness can be lacking in our interactions with others, particularly when we are tired or under stress. Flying is not a very enjoyable way to travel anymore; long lines, tight spaces, and lots of people make for ill-tempers.

What if we all went out of our way to be kind? This doesn’t mean that you have to apologize or assuage grumpy passengers, but if you want to spread a little love to those around you, this is a light-hearted way to do it.

But a genuine smile and kind words can go a long way as well. The biblical wisdom that “a gentle answer deflects anger” is so very true.

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And lest you think the skies are full of angry passengers waiting for candy and ear plugs, maybe you’ll sit next to someone like this man who took it upon himself to calm the crying baby of an exhausted pregnant mom. Or this kindhearted women that relieved a worn out dad.

So as you plan for your baby’s first flight, look for ways to spread a little extraordinary kindness to those around you. It can be elaborate or simple, but let it reflect your personality and how you would like to be treated yourself.

If you’re still searching for tips to survive your baby’s first flight, here are some helpful tips to get you on your way.

Annie Wiesman

Annie Wiesman

Annie Wiesman is the co-author of “Education Begins at Birth: A Parent’s Guide to Preparing Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers for Kindergarten.” She is a former kindergarten teacher turned stay-at-home mom who enjoys traveling, hiking in the mountains, and creating memories together with her husband and little girl.

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