Returning home from a tranquil family vacation in Bali, Auckland resident Dr. Tania O’Brien experienced an unexpectedly turbulent episode onboard Qantas Flight QF44. Accompanied by her one-year-old son Roman, Dr. O’Brien found herself subjected to a commotion escalated not by her infant, but by a group of adult travellers.
The late-night flight, heavily packed with weary tourists, quickly turned into an arena of discomfort for the mother and child, courtesy of a group of boisterous male passengers seated in the vicinity. Displaying a lack of empathy towards the mother and child, the men expressed their dissatisfaction bluntly, aggravated by the child’s cries amidst their raucous laughter and loud chatter, which ironically kept the little one awake.
The ordeal took a severe turn when Dr. O’Brien’s attempt to exit her seat was interrupted by the out-of-control passengers, prompting the airline staff to intervene. Not stopping there, the flight attendants also had to take a firm decision of refusing to serve alcohol to the rowdy group.
Dr. O’Brien recounts her experiences, noting that her countless flights over 16 years, commuting between Bahrain, Dubai and New Zealand never witnessed such hostility or indiscipline from co-passengers. An event as uncivilized as a mature person directing an obscenity at a crying baby was a first for her.
She highlights that the real issue on flights is not always the unavoidable cries of young children, but the lack of patience and unruly behaviour of fellow passengers. According to her, flights brimming with casual holiday-goers, especially those who have taken to indulging in alcohol prior to boarding, contribute to disruptive flight experiences.
A seasoned traveller and a mother, Dr. O’Brien shares that her flights across Gulf were notable for the abundance of kindness showed by fellow passengers and airline crew towards those travelling with children.
Speaking fondly of her time in the UAE and Bahrain, she mentions that some airlines have ‘sky nannies’ that ensure parents can enjoy their in-flight time in peace, while their little ones are taken care of. This journey was intended to be a peaceful celebration of Roman’s first birthday, coupled with a visit to his father, residing in the UAE.
The hardships faced by Dr. O’Brien received a comforting antidote from the Qantas staff, particularly a compassionate cabin crew member named Grace. Grace cared for Roman, empathetically calling him “little buddy” and ensuring his needs were met while Dr. O’Brien could attend to her own.
In the end, the disruptive passengers departed in Sydney, alleviating the discomfort and restoring peace for Dr. O’Brien and her son. Qantas, although maintain a firm zero-tolerance policy for such disruptive behaviors, chose not to comment on this individual incident.
Dr. O’Brien shared her ordeal on social media, acknowledging that while lengthy flights can sometimes be challenging for young travellers, the experience quality relies heavily on the airline’s approach, the nature of the flight route and, undoubtedly, the behaviour of co-passengers. The seasoned traveller boiled her experience down to a salient point, chiding the prevailing notion of considering children as the sole source of flight disruptions. She asserts that more often than not, it’s the adults who fuel the disruption, not the innocent young flyers.