The Filthy Truth of In-Flight Diaper Changes

That precious little bundle of joy can be so cute and adorable — until it is time to change that diaper. Photograph ©istockphoto.com by boumenjapet.

Ahhh, babies and toddlers. You either love those miniature human beings, or you absolutely despise them.

Fortunately — or unfortunately, depending on how you view it — there are FlyerTalk members who staunchly belong to both camps. This, of course, has led to intense debate over the years through literally hundreds of discussions about whether or not babies and toddlers should travel.

It would be almost impossible to write an article which covers everything about babies and toddlers who travel. In fact, that is merely a subset of a broader topic, which is traveling with children. That would include everyone of both the male and female genders from babies to infants, toddlers to adolescents, “pre-teens” to teenagers — each with their own subsets of trials and tribulations they bring to fellow travelers who attempt to enjoy a comfortable flight on an airplane or a good night’s sleep in the room next door at a hotel property.

In fact, there is even an entire forum on FlyerTalk dedicated to traveling with children….

…so let us consider this article the second of an informal series on traveling with children of all types, as there is no way the topic can be covered in its entirety within one article. The topic for this article is changing the diapers — or nappies, depending on where you are located — of babies, infants and toddlers.

I had already been thinking about writing an article about children who travel when I stumbled upon this article written in the first person by The Deal Mommy, who imparts her first-hand experience on dealing with the unpredictability of a baby who was three weeks old:

“Deal Dad learned early: on our very first flight with Deal Kid, aged three weeks. Confidently he strolled down the aisle with DK, his spare supplies all ready to go for a change. Fifteen minutes later he returned disheveled, battle-scarred, and needing a drink. Apparently Deal Dad forgot one of the rules of infant, um, movements: they are never-ending. So as Deal Dad was mid-change, Deal Kid projected full force all over the mirror, sink, and lavatory like a machine gun. Deal Kid did his best to frantically clean up the battle damage while still holding to Deal Kid. (NOTE: NEVER touch anything in an airplane lavatory!)”

…and then with a toddler who was two years of age:

“As the plane ascended and my ears began to pop, so did Deal Kid’s intestines. This is what I, and the surrounding four rows, heard:

PPPPPPHHHHHHHFFFFFFFTTTTTTTTT
“Mommy! Poop! AAAAAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!”
(me standing up, whispering) “excuse moi, Madame”
(Walk 17 rows to lavatory, Deal Kid screaming whole way, change diaper, return to seat)
(me sitting down, whispering) “excuse moi, Madame”

This entire process took about 15 minutes.

Unfortunately, this didn’t happen just once. It happened EVERY HALF HOUR, like some sort of deranged cuckoo clock…”

Naturally — after reading that — I had to get the real poop on traveling with babies and toddlers as discussed by FlyerTalk members.

At least The Deal Mommy uses the lavatory aboard the aircraft during a flight: one sore subject for FlyerTalk members is parents who change the diapers of their babies and toddlers in what may be considered inappropriate areas — such as openly in an aisle seat of the business class cabin on a Boeing 767-300, or in a seat in the first class cabin on a flight to Miami, both operated by American Airlines. Some FlyerTalk members call it disgusting and classless; while others seem to have no problem or issue with it.

The changing of a fully-soiled diaper can be considered even more disgusting when the mother of an infant does not cover the seat on which she changed that diaper — nor did she wash her hands afterwards — just as the meal service had commenced in the business class cabin.

While in the first class cabin on a flight operated by United Airlines which lasted 12 hours this past August, FlyerTalk member VFR2EWR was not happy about sitting near a couple who breast-fed their screaming baby and changed the baby’s diaper not one, but twice.

Interestingly, FlyerTalk members were more bothered by the open changing of the baby’s diaper than they were about the baby being breast-fed. I intend to cover the breast-feeding of infants as the topic of a future article.

The act of changing a diaper is certainly not limited to the premium class cabin on an airplane. Imagine a mother changing the diaper of her toddler in the middle seat next to you in the economy class cabin, where quarters are tighter and space is limited. Would you hold the taped-up soiled diaper while the mother struggled to clean up her child if you were asked?

How would you like to eat your snack or meal that was sitting on a tray table — even if it was in protective packaging — when you know that it was used as a table for changing the diaper of an infant?

One mother attempted to give a dirty diaper to a flight attendant for disposal, when the flight attendant supposedly declined politely but firmly, saying “No, you’ll need to dispose of that in the lavatory.” Is the disposal of soiled diapers part of the job of a flight attendant? Would the situation be different if the mother first placed the offensive diaper in a plastic bag, at the very least?

Perhaps the flight attendant should be responsible for the proper disposal of a diaper. A flight to New York was delayed in Tampa due to a baby diaper lodged in the toilet of a lavatory. The delay lasted greater than an hour so that the toilet could be unclogged.

Is it the fault of the parent when he or she changes the diaper of a child at a bulkhead seat when granted permission by the flight attendant after asking?

Mothers are not the only parents who change the diapers of their children in empty seats. A father on a regional jet airplane operated by United Airlines during a flight from Los Angeles to Seattle changed the diaper of his son in an empty seat — and due to their size, the interiors of regional jets can quickly be enveloped with the unpleasant smell of the soiled diaper.

The disgust for the conspicuous changing of the diaper of a baby or toddler is not confined to within an airplane. Imagine eating at the food court at the Toronto Zoo — only to have a mother changing the diaper of her baby nearby on one of the seats in the cafeteria. Unsanitary , inconsiderate and gross are some of the adjectives used by FlyerTalk members to express their disgust at the practice of changing a soiled diaper in the vicinity of where people are consuming food.

There are those who say that those adorable babies and toddlers simply “do what they do” and cannot yet control themselves the way older children and adults — well, most adults, anyway — can; while others argue that if that is the case, then leave your babies and toddlers at home, as they have a right to enjoy travel without having to be subjected to the sight and odor of freshly discharged fecal matter.

Some might argue that the odors emanating from aircraft lavatories can be far more pungent than what a baby can produce — but then again, should that not be the appropriate place where a baby or a toddler should have his or her diaper changed?

Parents might either believe that they are being as discreet as possible when changing the diaper of their child at the seat on an airplane — or perhaps they may not believe that they are being noticed or seen, similar to that inexplicable phenomenon of a person picking his or her nose while in a car waiting for the traffic light to change. Maybe there is a plausible reason as to why the parent is unable or unwilling to take his or her child to the lavatory to change that odoriferous diaper — such as being required to stay in your seat while the Fasten Seat Belt sign is illuminated, perhaps. If so, I would like to hear those reasons to present all sides of this issue fairly. Please post them in the Comments area below.

In a broader sense, this appears to be all about a matter of responsibility, awareness and respect for fellow passengers. While there are circumstances and situations which may necessitate a parent to travel with a baby or toddler — and while there are certain things a parent cannot control with regard to his or her baby or toddler — there are actions which parents can take to ensure that any disruption which their may child is mitigated or eliminated. In this case, that could include the following suggestions:

Use an appropriate place to change that diaper. Unlike years ago, many lavatories and rest rooms are now equipped with tables for the specific purpose of changing the diaper of the little one. Use it.

Ensure you have an adequate amount of the proper supplies. This includes diapers; a soft cushion such as a small blanket, pillow or pad; baby powder and other items which may help reduce the offensive odor while simultaneously ensure the comfort of the baby or toddler; cleaning supplies; plastic bags — preferably ones which can be sealed — in which used diapers may be placed for disposal purposes; and any distractions which could help reduce any impediment of the enjoyment of fellow travelers and diners, such as a pacifier or a favorite toy.

Change the diaper of your child before you board an airplane. This may be difficult to achieve successfully, but it is possible. This is one tip imparted by FlyerTalk member GoldenRetriever when FlyerTalk member Nassau considerately asked for advice from fellow FlyerTalk members about changing the diaper of a baby aboard an airplane.

Choose a flight with the least amount of impact on fellow passengers. In addition to this being difficult to predict — as well as other factors such as the cost of a flight — this can be difficult to achieve but also possible to accomplish successfully. For example, if you can book a reservation on a flight when you believe that the baby or toddler will most likely sleep during the entire flight, this could minimize the need to change a diaper during a flight — or, at least, the amount of times a diaper has to be changed during a flight.

Have a small offering to your fellow passengers, just in case. If for some extreme reason you are unable to minimize the disruption of the travel experience of your fellow passengers, at least offer them a little something for their trouble — a drink coupon or a chocolate bar, for example — to acknowledge that you are indeed aware of them and the possible effect on their travel experiences. This action may not excuse you from changing that diaper in an inappropriate area in the minds of the passengers — but at least perform a gesture of good will of some type so that you do not appear to be completely ignorant of the fellow passengers.

Ensure that the used diaper is properly disposed. Use the aforementioned plastic bags in which to place used diapers just in case you cannot immediately dispose of them properly — and close the plastic bags to reduce the odor of the diaper from affecting fellow passengers. Ditch the plastic bag containing the used diaper in a proper receptacle — and if that diaper contains solid fecal matter, first dump that fecal matter in the toilet and flush it before disposing of the used diaper in a proper receptacle.

Wash your hands after changing diapers. For obvious reasons, this should go without saying — right?!?

The bottom line — I was going to say no pun intended but I changed my mind like a parent changes a diaper — is that the days of family members living within a short drive of each other seem to be gone; and the Internet has increased the accessibility of travel and destinations for families. Grandparents, for example, who live far away and cannot travel due to health reasons should still have the opportunity in interact with their grandchildren in person — and parents traveling with babies and toddlers help that opportunity become a reality. However, it is the responsibility of the parents to ensure that they do not contribute to the deterioration of the travel experience of their fellow passengers, as well as the dining experience for their fellow diners — and completely attempt to ensure that the experience of changing the diaper of a child as inconspicuously as possible can go a long way in keeping the travel and dining experience as positive as possible for all.

What are your experiences with parents who change the diapers of their children in what you believe are inappropriate areas? Are you a parent who has either advice or experiences to impart about changing the diaper of your child? Either way, what are your thoughts about the “real poop” on taking care of the biological needs of the child while away from home?

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Comments (Showing 20 of 25)

  • CyberNomad at 5:24pm May 17, 2013

    I have no problem with breast feeding. But changing diapers in a seat next to me, when I might be eating? Would parents change diapers on their dining room table during a meal? If parents are at a nice restaurant, would they change the diaper on the table as other people around are trying to eat? If not, then they shouldn’t be doing it on the tray table next to me.

    Airlines should have a rule against this. It would never be allowed in a restaurant, and it’s an obvious health code violation, so why should it be allowed on an airplane?

  • LabCat at 1:22am May 18, 2013

    Completely agree with CyberNomad on all counts. I too have no problem with breastfeeding on a plane, or most anywhere public. Mothers can and usually do cover up. And needless to say, breast milk is not unsanitary nor does it have a stench that permeates adjoining spaces. Indeed, I’d rather be next to a breastfeeding mother than someone who brings on an odoriferous fast food meal to eat.

    Diaper changing…. I have a huge problem with diaper changing at a seat – on the seat, on the tray table, in the aisle, anywhere except the lav, where the rest of us go to do our business. What if a guy decided to whip out a plastic urinal to use at his seat instead of going to the lav? No different than the diaper, yet that man would have a welcoming committee at his destination eager to speak with him about his indecent behavior…

    I understand the concern of some parents that the lav is hardly the cleanest place for their children, but please have some respect for the rest of us. (Changing mats – which ought to be in every diaper bag anyway – can take care of most concerns with the cleanliness of the lav.) I don’t want to see a soiled diaper. I don’t want to smell a soiled diaper. I don’t want to touch a soiled diaper. Please please please, parents, consider others around you.

    And if a diaper is changed in the lav, the rest of us can at least pretend the parent has washed his/her hands…..

  • The Deal Mommy at 3:39am May 18, 2013

    Thanks for the shout-out! Let me just say…at my seat? No way! Just gross, not to mention logistically untenable in coach. Suck it up and use the lav, and stock up on disposable “pee-wees”: http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2401404. Dirt cheap and tailor made for situations like these.

  • jamesteroh at 7:37am May 18, 2013

    I also have no problems if someone is breastfeeding at their seat. It’s natural and no unsanitary.

    I do have a HUGE problem with diaper changes being done anywhere but the lav. Tray tables are used for eating, I don’t know of any restaurant that would tolerate a diaper change on one of their tables. I have also seen parents change diapers in the skyclub using a chair or table, if you are in a club, again use the bathroom, they have changing tables in them for that purpose.

    I’m not trying to sound stuck up, but I wish parents sitting in coach would change their infants in the coach lav and not the first lav. Last month someone in coach brought up their screaming infant to use the first class lav to change them there while the FA was starting the meal service and was in the lav for over ten minutes. The pax in F had to listen to a screaming infant during the meal service and it also made the lav inaccessible for F passengers. Towards the end of the flight the same passenger did it again.

  • 8factors at 7:46am May 18, 2013

    Breastfeeding is fine, but please change the diaper in the lab – common sense maybe?

    On a flight CLT to YYZ last week a lady change a diaper right in her economy seat and then proceeded to hand the diaper to a flight attended. I felt for the FA but damn, the expression on her face was priceless LOL

  • Brian Cohen at 10:13am May 18, 2013

    How about this as a set of real-life examples of “what-if”s, LabCat?

  • LabCat at 1:31pm May 18, 2013

    Ah yes, Brian, DYKWIA celebrities (or almost-celeb in the case of the almost-Olympian) behaving badly. Or should I say piss-poorly?

  • Asiaflyguy at 4:46pm May 18, 2013

    As a father of two children under the age of three, there are numerous issues I agree with in this article. 1.cheange your child in the LAV, whenever possible, I say whenever possible, as not evey single plane flying has changing tables in the LAV, thus leaving no place to privatly change yoru child, My wife has had to change it next to the exit door on a flight (not in the US), however, it was not pleasant for anyone, but was that the partents fault, no, I blame the airlines for not being more accomidating to families on board.Also, if yoru child is over 30″, good luck in changing your child in the LAV, they dont fit!! So should I not fly with my child becuase the planes LAV is the size of a phone booth?? And if you are on a regional jet, which now in the US is quite common aircraft for 2.5 to 3 hour flights, your screwed, as they are even smaller yet

    While I share your outrage at changing babies on the seat and or tray table,(I would be the first to say somthing to a parent who changed their child on a seat or tray table)
    I have seen my share of other outragous uses for the tray table. Just two weeks ago, a man who clearly had a very bad cold was sneezing all over his tray table for the entire flight, I am sure the airlines did not properly clean the tray table for the next customer.
    A flight last year ~ across the asils from me, a woman proceeded to put her foot on the tray table and self manacure and paint her toes. pretty dispicable behavior, and of course there is always the travelers who feel the need to remove their shoes as soon as they get on board, with and some without socks which have the same odor effect that a soiled diaper has in the sabin of the aircraft. The list goes on…

    My point is that yes, babies require additional care and supervision than that of the adult passangers, however, that extra care and supervision is not always easy as the airlines continue to shrink the size of the planes space to make way for another seat to two. Your points are well taken, and yes there are parents who should take more care in providing care for their children, but as I have found, there are just as many adults, who should know better to take care of themselves and behave appropiatly in public on board as well.

    There are always two sides to every argument. Even before I was a parent, I was always sympathetic and empathetic to parents traveling, its one of the hardest and most stressful things you have to do, mostly because you are so worried about the child upsetting the other passengers. So insted of rolling your eyes and mumbling under your breath the next time you see a mom or dad with a child, perhaps a smile, nod and word of support and encouragement could help.

    As for the ‘entilted” customers who are sitting in F, like 8FACTORS, on numerous occasions I have been instructed by the FA to use the F LAV on more occasions than I can recall, because as we all know, one cannot gain access to the F cabin unless granted special dispensation by the FA or by popualr vote of those sitting in F, also, on many aircraft the F LAV is slightly larger than the Economy LAV, and trust me, the extra few inches makes all the difference in the world. I’m sorry if a a baby crying spoiles your lunch, deal with it, be a human being. AND really, how many people us ethe LAV during meal service 8FACTORS, I fly F an know that the LAV is all but accessable during meal service due to the parade of food and beverage up and down the asile, so come down off the cross, someone else needs the wood!

    Those of you that have a beef with airlines allowing babies to fly, take it up with them and suggest they creat an ICON on their seat map that shows where a parent and their child are sitting, then you can have the opportunity to sit far away from them or choose a different flight all together…

    Safe Travels to all

  • Asiaflyguy at 4:48pm May 18, 2013

    I mistakingly refernced 8FACTORS in y coments when I meant jamesteroh, my apologies

  • jamesteroh at 7:38pm May 18, 2013

    People flying in the first class cabin are either paying a premium (in $ or miles) to sit up front or have been upgraded due to their flying status and should have the right to a peaceful flight.
    I have seen plenty of people seated in coach come up to use the first class lav on domestic flights (both with infants and without infants) without asking the FA even though the curtain is drawn and an announcement is made to use the lav in the cabin you are ticketed in.

    If the F lav is empty and the infant is quiet, I really don’t have a problem with them using the lav on a day flight. If an infant is crying, especially on a redeye flight, it is unfair to the passengers in first trying to sleep to bring a screaming infant up front. While most of my upgrades are complimentary, there have been times I have paid to fly in First on a redeye and will chose the last row. The entire first class cabin shouldn’t have to deal with a crying infant unless the passenger is ticketed in first.

    Not trying to sound entitled but if someone is paying for First class to sleep better, they shouldn’t have to deal with it. If someone wants to use the First class lav then buy a first class ticket.

  • Asiaflyguy at 6:14pm May 19, 2013

    The percentage of customers flying in F who actually PAY for for aF seat is very low, all of them are upgrades due to status and milage redemption.

    Clearly james teroh does have the entilted mindset and hope that you enough all of your deserved restful sleeps.

    Just curious, since the airlines place most of the babies in the bulkhead row, which is just a closed curtain away from yoru ever so exclusive F cabiin, what to do about crting babies then, send them to the back of the plane, is that far enough away so you can get a restful sleep…

    Karma is a wonderful thing

  • jamesteroh at 8:38pm May 19, 2013

    Most of my redeyes are on a 757, which means there is no direct current behind First class and you have the wall and a lav separating it so there is a easy access to a lav without coming up front but some people (again all passengers) ignore the curtain.

    I don’t remember seeing an infant on a redeye. Even so,, if they were sitting in the bulkhead on a 757 you couldn’t hear them anyway. And if someone is sitting in the bulkhead in economy they are probably a frequent flyer that knows the rules since you have to fly at least 50,000 a year to sit in the first three to five rows since they are economy comfort seats or you have to pay an additional charge to sit up front.

    The ones with entitled mindsets are the ones that are too cheap to pay for a first class ticket or fly enough for upgrades and feel they should have access to first class aneminities because they have kids. I have seen enough parents on here complain that if people don’t like kids on airplanes, to fly private or fly an airline that doesn’t allow children, this is the same thing someone doesn’t like the size of a coach bathroom, then fly an airline that has acceptable coach bathroom space or pay for a first class ticket.

  • ILovetheReds at 8:48pm May 19, 2013

    As someone who flew with my kids when they were infants, my wife or I would have never thought of changing our infants on a seat or tray table. The only time I would see that to be acceptable would be if for some reason the aircraft bathroom didn’t have a changing table.

    We would always use a changing pad as well. I was an airline lounge recently and there was a changing table available and someone decided to change their baby on the counter of the handicap sink and didn’t even have the decency to put a changing pad down.

    And if passengers insist on using the seat, use your own seat, don’t use someone else’s. I was on a flight earlier this year which went out with empty first class seats and saw a passenger come up and use the aisle seat to change their infant on (probably because there was more room and the seat was bigger) . The flight attendants are as much to blame for not stopping this behavior.

    As far as the argument goes about using the first class bathroom for diaper changes, those bathrooms should only be used by first class passengers (unless the flight attendant has the aisle blocked with their cart and specifically tells the passenger to go up front). When I fly with my kids, or even alone, I only use the first class bathroom if I am seated in first class. If I am in coach I use that bathroom (I also will not use the coach bathroom if I am seated in First and it’s occupied).

    And don’t flush diapers. My wife had a flight delayed and missed her connection and the flight had a MX delay because someone was flushing diapers and maintenance had to repair it.

  • JulienMSP at 11:59pm May 19, 2013

    asiafly, using the excuse “most of the passengers in F are non-revs” or whatever you said immediately nullifies your argument as it’s pretty IRRELEVANT how they got up there–it’s also none of your damned business and reeks of jealousy.

    You don’t get to use F lav’s when you’re not in F..period..case closed. change your baby in the Y bathroom like you’re supposed to. Use a changing pad, and if there is no “table” (and frankly, i’ve never seen there NOT be a table); then put a changing pad on the seat of the toilet and change them there. Then wipe the toilet lid off with a wet wipe/sanitary wipe. All things that should be in your diaper bag if you have a child. Don’t inconvenience other people on a flight and call people “entitled” who call you out on it–all for the sake of “being a human being.” (lamest excuse in the world)

    I’m sick of Americans thinking they can do whatever the hell they want and if someone says something about it–we’re being “entitled.” You can do whatever you want as long as it doens’t inconvenience someone else or break any laws/rules. You should also strive EVERY DAY to be considerate of other people in EVERY situation. This goes for everyone in the world; in every situation. Don’t hold up lines with 43890898 questions when a line is super long, stop making a bunch of excess noise when you don’t have to, dont’ take kids on a plane/bus/restaurant/store if they are just going to scream the whole time, stop crowding the area in front of the boarding gate when you’re in anything lower than SkyPriority. (You dont’ even have a reason to get up until after SkyPriority is called)…the list goes on. I love being a grouchy old man at the ripe age of 35.

  • ok2uselane at 7:16am May 20, 2013

    I guess I was fortunate enough that when I flew with my son, when he was still in diapers, he did his stinkiest business BEFORE we boarded. Nevertheless, I still carried plenty of diapers, wipes, and plastic zip-lock baggies to contain any used materials. In the several flights we undertook over those years, I recall changing in the lav, and on the floor. The floor was, by far, the easiest to deal with as I could actually move without contorting myself or my son. Don’t think for a minute that I felt comfortable changing him on the floor. It was embarassing and degrading, to say the least. But, I also, did the changing quite rapidly (you figure out how to do that to avoid the “fountain of youth”). Hand sanitizer was also used… I can’t recall any objections by my fellow pax. However, it may have been that they never even noticed. Also, my son’s unexpectedly excellent flying behavior probably contributed to the pleasant experience for all involved. I say this because, if my son had not been so well behaved on his first airplane trip (ie. screaming, crying, gassy, etc.), I would not have flown with him as an infant or toddler again. It’s just the right thing to do, for all involved! I agree that ALL airlines need to provide better places in the lav for changing, that would make things easier for everyone. But, parents should not think that they are entitled to ruin everyone else’s trip with their child. They ave a responsibility, too.
    That’s my two cents.

  • MissRoseDarrensAngel at 7:56am May 20, 2013

    I will never get out of my mind the time I flew from LGA to DTW. A family came on board with 4 kids under age 6. They were a few rows ahead of me. The noise of the kids did not bother as as much as the fact I noticed sometime during the flight the mother changed the youngest child’s diaper. How did I know that? She had a fresh diaper in one hand which I could see at the place I was at, plus the smell. I could smell the stuff a few rows back. It was enough I had a migraine that I had taken medicine and a diet coke to go away, it just aggravated it.

    Changing a diaper should be done only in the lavs. I have a niece and nephew, and can remember there were times the baby/toddler diapers were absolutely filthy, and it is a challenge to keep them still and not spread the mess. Who ever was the caregiver ensured the diaper was changed in a bathroom not in a public place. I do not think this is just an issue on airplanes but on trains & other public places especially cafes, restaurants etc

  • jamesteroh at 8:01am May 20, 2013

    Well said Julien. You should change your infant in the lav of the cabin you are ticketed in. Doesn’t matter if someone is in first class because they are paying or using miles or from an upgrade (and if people get upgraded it’s only to seats the airline can’t sell and we have paid for that upgrade with the loyality to the airline). On an international trip you can’t get upgraded unless coach is oversold and they do an op-up or use miles or a SWU on a M+ fare ticket (which is oftentimes more than a discounted business class ticket), so most of the people are paying over $4,000 to sit up front and have the right to not have a screaming infant from economy being carried through the business class cabin.

    I have also been in the skypriority security lane at airports and have seen parents who aren’t SP (I have seen their boarding passes and it didn’t have the SP banner on it) actually cut to the very front of the SP line because they had an infant. Now those parents are the ones that are acting entitled.

  • dcpdxtrans at 9:59am May 20, 2013

    I have posted to others on how to fly efficiently with kids…

    Any frequent flying family knows to avoid 757s–none have baby changing stations. We learned this the hard way. We tried, in vain, to change our infant on the toilet seat or whatever was available. It was too precarious, and the safety of our son was at issue. It was disgusting that we had to change him on our seat and under a pad. UA, our airline of choice domestically, has ignored requests to upgrade the 757s so we just avoid those birds.

    As for changing at a seat a diaper that is only pee, I don’t particularly have a problem with this, especially if the parents are equipped with hand sanitizer and sanitizer (and not baby) wipes, wipe everything down, and engage in that activity, for example, if the plane is about to land or during turbulence.

    Finally, we always use night diapers when flying–extra absorbency and space…

  • CyberNomad at 10:44am May 20, 2013

    dcpdxtrans , I have a major problem with changing a diaper on the seat next to me, even if it’s just pee. I don’t relieve myself or perform bodily functions in the seat. I paid for a clean, sanitary seat. I’m also going to eat there so it’s a food serving area. Would you change the diaper sitting at the table in a restaurant? Of course not, the restaurant would throw you out.

    I hope that airlines make a rule about this and remove passengers who decide to expose me to their diaper-changing, because obviously not all parents understand that it’s not acceptable to expose other passengers to bodily waste. If you can’t afford to choose another airline, or a cabin class that has a lav with a changing table, then you can’t afford to fly! Flying on the cheapest and most convenient flight is not a right.

  • harvyk at 7:16pm May 20, 2013

    Having had the unpleasant experience of having to do more than my fair share of in-flight nappy (diaper) changes (on both short haul aka 737 / 767 and long haul 777 / 747), I will always go to the lavs for two reasons.

    1. Typically they have a change table which drops down from the wall making the experience a much easier one. Even if there isn’t you can usually use the lid of the toilet as a makeshift change table, esp if you have a changing mat which you place down on top.

    2. Typically they have a nappy bin for easy disposal of such things. I will always wrap up the dirty nappy in a plastic bag first, and then drop it into the designated bin.

    I have never personally entertained the idea of changing my kids at the seats. If nothing else, if some of the mess escapes, then we’d be stuck with that mess for the rest of the trip.

  • dannysixpack at 7:52pm May 20, 2013

    @asiaflyguy

    nothing like blaming others for what you are guilty of. sounds like you’re a typical DYKWIA over-entitled flyer who thinks his s??t and his kids s??t doesn’t stink. It’s because of you, and people like you, that I would fully support a total ban on flying with children. That being said, quite often I have been pleasantly surprised. When I see an infant board the plane, I usually cringe and hope they sit very very far away from me. I wouldn’t lift a finger to help someone traveling with an infant because I think it’s inappropriate and cruel to travel by air with an infant.

    that being said I have often been pleasantly surprised. some PARENTS are well behaved and their infants are too. some parents of older children let them run amok, scream and yell, and hope the flight attendants will babysit and discipline them.

    so I don’t blame the infants (or the spoilt children), I blame the parents who don’t parent, who do satellite parenting, and create a disgusting, unsanitary and generally awful experience for their children and fellow travelers.

    it sounds like your kids fit the disgusting bill, as they have a parent with an over-entitled – screw everybody but me, attitude. I hope they rebel and grow up to be kind, decent people.

  • harvyk at 9:19pm May 20, 2013

    @dannysixpack

    As an unfortunate parent of young children who have in the past run amok on a flight, do not assume just because the children are not under control, that the parent is not trying to do everything within their “what is considered socially acceptable” power. Sometimes no amount of activity books / their favorite foods / brand new toys brought specifically for the plane / repeats of Dora the explorer on AVOD will alleviate that boredom.

    The problem is also in part, travelers who feel it is within their rights to judge how a parent is handling their child, who feel that we as parents should have perfect little angels every time, but are also the first to jump up and down about child rights should we actually do anything to bring our children into line. We have gotten some massive “evil looks” from fellow pax when we have told our children off, an almost “how dare you scuttle that child individuality and self expression” at the same time another pax is giving the look of “your doing it all wrong, if that was my child I would…”.

    So next time you travel on a flight with small children, remember that chances are that the parent is as much confused about what they can do from the point of view of actually raising the child, as what they can do without every second “stick their nose into other peoples business because they have nothing better to do” type pax threatening to call the local authorities on landing.

  • CyberNomad at 10:42am May 21, 2013

    Harvyk, I don’t care if parents are doing everything possible to control their children. If their children can’t behave on the plane, they shouldn’t be on the plane. Your children are not entitled to fly. Flying is not a right. By having paid for the ticket, I am entitled to a clean seat where I’m not exposed to bodily wastes as I’m sitting there for 8 hours. By having children, it does not mean they are entitled to be on the plane if they can’t handle it or you can’t handle it.

    All the parents who are saying, “under some circumstances it’s ok for me to change diapers in the seat if I really need to” are saying they are entitled to fly. All the parents saying, “I’m doing the best I can to control my children” are saying they are entitled to fly. Obviously parents don’t understand that they are not entitled to fly, and therefore airlines should make rules, such as no diaper changing (or other exposure to bodily wastes) in the seats. Another option would be to have designed flights or sections that are no-children.

  • harvyk at 4:21pm May 21, 2013

    @CyberNomad,

    So say on a 5 hour flight, with the kids having being angels for the first 4 hours, who then get bored and want to get off, we should have asked the pilot to pull over and we’ll swim the remaining 500 miles? What if it’s the second flight of the day and the kids are normally very well behaved?

    I mean this with all due respect, but my kids who have paid for their seat just like you (and child rates are often the same as Adult rates these days), have as much right to travel from A to B as you do, and don’t give me that stuff about kids being badly behaved, I have seen and experienced far more adults behaving badly or just being plain rude on planes than I have kids.

  • puddinhead at 6:06pm May 21, 2013

    @harvyk there was a story about a woman who was singing on a flight and the flight was diverted so they could throw her off. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/woman-thrown-off-plane-for-repeatedly-singing-whitney-houston-hit-i-will-always-love-you-8613901.html

    She paid for a seat. She had a right to fly from A to B. Yet her behavior got her kicked off the flight.

    If kids scream and yell or run up and down the aisles, then this looks like an appropriate response. Land the plane and kick the family off.

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