POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Feb 24, 2013
Question: What do you do if you have a chatty child and you have to fly with him? My son is very verbal (he's 4) and isn't afraid to start a conversation with anyone. He's not going to cry or scream or kick seats — but can he ever talk. Most people think it's cute, but he can go on and on and on. If the person beside him were trying to get work done, it would be pretty annoying. If we were in a group of three seats, I'd just put myself between him and the other passenger, but we're on a big plane and have two middle seats, so someone will definitely be next to him. Help!
Answer: I know exactly what you're talking about — I have quite the little conversationalist myself. First, don't decide who's sitting in what seat until you see who sits beside you. If the passenger to your right is in a suit and carrying a laptop bag, and the passenger to your left is a young dad whose wife and kids are sitting in another aisle, put your son next to the young dad. Other parents are traveling parents' best friends.
Second, pay attention to what's going on at all times. Don't get lost in a game on your phone or enthralled by the in-flight movie (no matter how amusing the re-dubbing of curse words is). If the other passenger is showing signs of annoyance or says, "That was an interesting story about Stonehenge, but now I'm going to work on my laptop," then you have to step in. Tell your son it's time to stop chatting with the nice gentleman or lady because everyone would like some quiet time. Have a new and interesting toy or book (or a few) in your carry-on. Load up your smartphone with games and a movie, and bring kid-size headphones. Basically, bring anything that would distract your son and let the person beside him get some peace.
Email travel etiquette questions to Lesley Carlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.