As the mom of a 1-year-old, I can personally attest to the fear of flying with a baby. Indeed, I'm so scared of getting on a plane with my daughter that I haven't tried it just yet, and I even missed one of my best friend's weddings last year in part because I couldn't imagine flying with my colicky 6-week-old. Happily, in honor of Mother's Day, JetBlue Airways recognized this common parenting pitfall with an amazing new ad. JetBlue's FlyBabies promotion should remind everyone to be nicer to moms—even when that mom's baby is screaming in your ear.
The FlyBabies video, which JetBlue debuted this week, follows several parents as they prepare for a flight from New York to Long Beach. The first mom states the obvious: "It's more stressful flying with a baby." She specifies that in addition to the logistical intricacies of packing for a tiny person that can't do anything on their own, the main concern is judgement of other passengers. "I don't want to be that lady with the baby who's screaming for hours... people definitely give you dirty looks."
Another mom also highlighted that the stink eye from other passengers is the primary challenge of flying with a baby. "I'm most nervous about her [my daughter] having a total meltdown and having everyone around us really wishing we weren't on the plane," she said.
The ad shows the parents boarding the plane, accompanied by all those other passengers, each of who might be the person to hate them for brining a baby onboard. But then... the wonderful surprise. A stewardess makes a most unexpected announcement. "This will be the very first flight where flying with babies is a good thing," she says. "Every time a baby on this plane cries, you will receive 25 percent off your next JetBlue flight... in other words, four cries is equivalent to a free roundtrip ticket."
By my count, there were five babies on that plane, so that's pretty much a 125 percent guarantee of a free flight. The ad tracks each cry, and the passengers burst into clapping and cheers when that fourth cry, inevitable, occurred. The ad finished off with a swell message that I truly hope everyone will remember:
Next time, smile at a baby for crying out loud. Happy Mother's Day.
The sad truth is, parents get very little sympathy when their babies cry on planes. According to Elle, a JetBlue-funded study on this issue found that 40 percent of flyers are annoyed by crying babies—though 65 percent, at least, understand that parents have limited ability to prevent a baby from crying.
For the other 35 percent who don't understand that crying doesn't have an off switch, a brush-up on evolutionary biology might help. According to Perri Klass, a pediatrician and New York Times columnist, "Crying is an evolutionary strategy to summon adult aid, [and] over millennia, crying has probably evolved to be hard to ignore." So not only is crying inevitable, but its inevitably annoying for the adults who hear it. Perfect, right? Even Klass, a pediatrician, doesn't know how to make flying with a baby any easier. "Probably the best thing that can be said for traveling with young children is that it teaches you to appreciate traveling without them," she wrote in The Times.
As is the case with most things in life, a little understanding from our fellow humans goes a long way in making life's difficulties easier to traverse—and the FlyBabies ad is just another reminder that sympathy is always more useful than mean stares and judgement.