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Why Jetblue’s “Flybabies” program is actually terrible

Flying with a baby.

Does this idea make you shudder?

For many parents, the answer is a resounding “Yes!!” Having to think about coordinating a long day of travel in a cooped up environment, wondering if your little one will nap or have a blowout at 30,000 feet, can make most parents break out in a cold sweat. And for many moms and dads, one of their biggest worries is what their fellow travelers will think of them — or possibly even say to them.

In response to the joy that is flying with small children, JetBlue just announced a program called “Flybabies,” where every time a baby cries on certain flights, all passengers will receive a 25 percent discount on a future flight. If a baby cries four times, that means a totally free ticket on a future flight. Jetblue describes this program with a (meant to be) heartwarming video.

Cute video, right?

However, I’m here to tell you why this is an absolutely terrible idea.

First of all, as a parent who has flown many times with my young kids, I know exactly how the moms in the video feel. Flying with babies can be hard! I agree that there is a lot to worry about — from remembering to pack enough outfits to trying to get through security without losing one of your kids.

But you know what I don’t worry about? What other people think of me. I know I am doing my best, and if my baby cries, that’s life. When my little one cries, I will try to nurse him (and probably have some people judge me for that! Oh, the irony!), or rock him, or get up and walk around.

But despite all these soothing techniques, sometimes babies need to cry, and the one thing I won’t do is feel bad about it.

Some quotes from the video really bothered me, such as when one mom said that when people see you traveling with a baby, “people give you some dirty looks” or that you can tell the other passengers were “wishing we weren’t on the plane.”

How sad that other human beings — who were all babies once too, remember — treat our smallest citizens this way. How unfortunate that this speaks volumes about our society, that we would give a mom a dirty look because her baby is crying and wish she wasn’t around us.

I get it: a baby’s shrill cry isn’t fun. But realize how lucky you are to be on a flight kid-free and to not have to worry about fixing it! You get to sit there and read a book and relax, and yes — maybe you’ll need to tune out some crying, but again, this is life. We are all valued members of society, and even on days when adults have temper tantrums, they, too, deserve to be respected. So do our babies. And the parents caring for them.

JetBlue’s program might seem like an awesome idea at first, but think about the message it sends: that we need to be compensated to tolerate the smallest, most innocent members of our society. That grown adults should be paid to display the compassion they should extend for free.

So please, the next time you are sitting next to a mom and her stressed out baby, realize she is infinitely more aware that her baby is crying than you are. Please don’t need a financial incentive to “cope” with this little one who doesn’t understand what is going on. Offer a smile and a helping hand if you are so inclined, but at the very least just tune it out. Your understanding will go such a long way, and kindness doesn’t cost you anything.

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About Dr. Jennifer Lincoln, Bundoo OB/GYN

Dr. Jennifer Lincoln is a board-certified generalist obstetrician/gynecologist and attending physician in Portland, Oregon. She primarily works on labor and delivery has recently been certified as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.

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