Dear Grandparenting: It had to be the worst airplane trip ever. The problem wasn’t the weather. It was two very small passengers and their grandparents who were obviously very overmatched.

The little boy sat two rows behind me, except he wanted nothing to do with sitting. His name was Andrew. The little girl was farther up front but her voice really carried. She liked to hear herself talk too.

The flight took three hours. There was no relief. It was like they took turns crying or screaming or carrying on. The noisy little boy sat between an elderly couple who mostly bickered about what to do. I stopped counting how many times they repeated, “His mother promised he’d fall sleep right away.”

It’s bad enough putting up with uncomfortable airline seats in planes packed to the gills with humanity, including some very weird individuals. But there’s no feeling quite like settling in for a nice flight, only to be interrupted by the piercing cry of an infant starting to crank up. It could make for one very long flight.

A stewardess mentioned that grandparents were in charge of those children. Now I happen to be a grandmother and I ALWAYS carefully pack for my grandchildren when we fly: snacks and goodies and some things to entertain them.

When you’re trapped at 35,000 feet, you’re on your own. Nobody is riding to your rescue, nowhere to run. Be prepared or prepare to be sorry. Perhaps you will call attention to the problem. Floyd Blue, Thousand Oaks, California

Dear Floyd: The mere sight of infants in an airplane boarding line is enough to set stress levels rising, and for good reason.

So when actor George Clooney and wife Amal recently flew their six-month-old twins to London, they showed up with noise-cancelling headphones for other first-class passengers, along with little notes that apologized in advance for any inconvenience. The rest of us aren’t likely to ever be so lucky.

Segments of the airline industry are exploring ways to improve the experience of flying with small children for all involved, installing child-free “no crying” zones that exclude children or hiring “flying nannies” with child care training to entertain them.

Assumptions are the mother of many miscues. Don’t bet on it if advised your grandchild will sleep through the flight. Grandparents tasked with the responsibility should consult airline guidelines and take along audio/video gadgets that entertain small children for hours. Hope for the best while expecting something less, and don’t forget the earplugs. We never fly without them.


Tammy Silverstein, of Owings Mills, Maryland, overheard grandson Mason talking to his sister in the hallway when she invited the family over for Sunday brunch.

“Don’t throw food under the table if the dog isn’t there,” warned Mason, “because it will rot and get stinky and then you get in trouble.”

Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.