washingtonpost.com
Talk about Travel: Should there be child-free zones on airplanes?

Flight Crew
Monday, August 30, 2010; 12:00 PM

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Joe Yonan: Greetings, all, and welcome to your travel chat! What's on your mind? Feel like walking or running the next time you travel? thoughts on our poll question: Whether there should be child-free zones on airplanes? We are asking that after Skyskanner posed the question to 2,000 travelers, in response to a woman's suit against Quantas Airlines, claiming that a screaming baby on board a flight from Australia made her ears bleed. 59% said yes; what do you think?Tell your favorite story of a child-filled (or child-free) experience, and you could win a little prize. Let's chat!

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Arlington, VA: Is the child-free zone seriously under consideration?? Would LOVE this; would PAY for this. And I have an under-one-year-old baby, so I'm not a kid hater here.

Joe Yonan: It's not under consideration by any airline, as far as I know. But with airlines always looking for ways to make a little more money, I wouldn't be surprised if we see some take on it in some form.

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CAS Is TSA?: I was in San Francisco recently and I was surprised to note that the airport screeners wearing royal blue shirts had CAS, not TSA, on their shoulders. One of them told me that CAS stands for Covenant Aviation Security and is a PRIVATE company that the TSA subcontracts to. Apparently several other airports operate similarly. How is this possible? Wasn't the whole reason for creating the TSA the intention to make airport security a federal responsibility with national standards? What's going on here?

Christopher Elliott: To answer your question, though, private screeners were an option from almost day one.

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Travel with animals: Should non animal carrying passengers be informed of animals being carried on-board, especially if they're allowed out of their carriers?

Christopher Elliott: Yes. Particularly if it's a fuzzy pet that is bound to leave half the passengers sneezing. But there is no law requiring it, at least that I'm aware of.

Andrea Sachs: Also, according to airline policies, the pets must stay in their carriers during the flight. So if you are petphobic and see a cat or dog watching the in-flight entertainment, notify an attendant.

Joe Yonan: I'm going to try to bring Mister Red on an airplane sometime. He's a 100-pound Doberman. I'll either put a wig and a dress on him and teach him to walk standing up, or roll on the most ginormous carrier and demand that they find a way for me to put it under the seat. That will be entertaining.

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A couple of options: 1) Ban all children under 12 from airplanes2) Charge an enormous fee for people that want to bring children onto planes. The fee is then distributed equally as a rebate to all other passengers.

Joe Yonan: Harsh! As someone who traveled when I was 8, unsupervised, I object! But then again, I was an angel. Simply an angel. ;-)

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Car Rentals: Just came back from a wonderful trip to Utah - good prices on Southwest tickets and hotels/motels. The car rental was something else. About $1450 for rental of an SUV through Hertz ( even with a discount) for 8 days. What is the solution? Even a full sized sedan would have only been $150 less. BTW, there were 3 of us and it would have been very uncomfortable to squeeze us all in a small car.

Carol Sottili: The catch is the site doesn't reveal the car rental company until after you pay, and you have to pay in advance, but they use only larger, well known firms. I've never had a problem going that route.

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Labor Day Weekend - Flight to Europe: On Saturday, September 4, I am booked on a mid-afternoon flight from DCA to JFK with a 1:35 minutes between planes before flying on to Europe (no need to change the terminal, but changing airlines). Do you think this is enough time given the holiday weekend and the probable track of Hurricane Earl? Should I try to change to an earlier DCA-JFK flight? Thanks.

Andrea Sachs: I think that is a fair amount of time to make your connection, especially considering that you have already checked your bags and showed your passport.

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TALK ABOUT TRAVEL!: The last week of April 2010, my wife and I were coming back from a short vacation in Jamaica. Upon landing in Atlanta to take our connection flight to Washington area, the immigration officer screening the incoming passengers, wasted so much time asking us (We are both U.S. citizens for decades) so many irrelevant questions which we lost our connection flight.Obviously our luggage were check in for our final destination and went to Washington ahead of us , as a result the whole scenario exposed two crakes, in the system, annoyance and inconvenience for travelers, as a result of incompetence within immigration agents, as-well-as clear violation of security rules ( With all the hoopla about Security) which resulted by separation of passengers from their belongings.Traveling by air is so annoying these days that more and more people are going to avoid it as much as they can, and no wonder!! WHERE IS THE BEEF??M. Sarshar, M.D.

Christopher Elliott: I'm sorry this happened to you. Unfortunately, US Customs won't compensate you for a missed flight, leaving you at your airline's mercy. They should be able to do their jobs quickly and efficiently. And you make a good point -- the air travel experience doesn't end when you get off the plane. TSA and Customs also play a big part in making it a positive or negative trip. By the way, next time you fly -- if there is a next time -- you might want to consider leaving yourself more time to connect, knowing that the customs agents can be a little chatty.

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Dumb-question-free zone: Why should there be a child-free zone if a child's ticket costs as much as an adult's? And who, exactly, is this question catering to? Jerks? I propose a jerk-free zone.

Joe Yonan: Ah, if only! The problem would be in the testing, of course. I think many of us could agree on what qualifies, but getting that down on paper could be dicey. I see multiple-source hypothetical scenarios as the only way to tell. "Question 1: The elderly lady in front of you during boarding is struggling to put her carry-on bag in the overhead compartment. Do you: A) Offer kindly to help. B) Ask her if she would step aside so you can get to your seat. C) Inform her that she shouldn't bring on bags that she can't lift."

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Carry-on bags: This is a little off-topic to your chat, but I recently flew on Virgin America and they did something during boarding which I would love to see become more widely adopted. On a large cross country flight, there were tons of people lining up with their big rolling carry-on bags, you could tell it was going to be a nightmare for everyone trying to stow their carry-ons. So after the first class and infant pre-boarding, they let anyone who had 1 small carry-on (no rolling bags) got to preboard next. It was awesome. The rolling bags are out of control, they're all bigger than carry-on size anyways, so it was great that they had to be gate-checked, and when we boarded the plane there was actually room to put our small duffel bags into the overheads.

Christopher Elliott: That's a great idea. I don't know why more airlines don't do it.

Joe Yonan: I've flown Virgin America just once, and it was such a good experience that I can't wait to do it again. Such efficiency and courtesy, a rare combination.

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Child Free zones on airplanes: Yes. In fact, how about families finally paying their share? Frankly after some flights I think parents should be paying more! :-) I'd like to see no more free or reduced child/baby fares, including lap children.

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British Airways Luggage Policy: Hello Flight Crew, I hope you can answer this before I leave! I was planning to take my 21" upright carry-on bag on my flight to Greece next week, but from what I read on the BA website, it seemed that they consider that too big for carry-on, and it would have to be checked. If that's the case, I might as well take a larger suitcase. Is this correct?

Carol Sottili: Here's what I see on the BA site re: carry-ons:dimensions 56cm x 45cm x 25cm (22in x 18in x 10in), including the handle, pockets and wheels."So I think a 21" case should work.

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Travel - Airline Tickets: I was surprised to find that United Airlines charges $250 to issue a credit to reflect a reduction in airfare after a ticket has already been issued. In my situation, the cost of a ticket to Rome from Dulles in October (booked a couple of weeks ago) decreased by approximately $100. When I called to ask for the lower fare, the agent informed me that it would cost $250 per ticket to get any credit for a lower fare. Is this legitimate?Thank you.

Christopher Elliott: Sadly, yes. These change fees are huge revenue generator for airlines. If anything, I expect to see more of them in the future.

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Maine: I will be spending the week of Labor Day in Maine. We will be on Bailey Island. Plans for lots of lobsta and blueberries...any other suggestions? we will be hitting LL Bean but wondering if you have any "not to be missed" ideas.thank you!

Andrea Sachs: I would definitely take a drive up to Camden. Cutest harborside town, with lots of onwater adventures, plus good hiking nearby. Also, hop some ferries to any number of islands, including Monhegan Island (artists' haven) and Islesboro (like a woodsy Beverly Hills). Here is a story on my adventures.

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Negative travel report: The person who wrote in last week asking where they could warn other travelers about the tour they took could join Virtual Tourist - the destination guides offer a section to write tips of things to avoid, or tourist traps.

Joe Yonan: Thanks!

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Child-free Zones: How exactly would this work? Have the airlines figured out a way to stop sound from travelling through the air? This would be about as useful as the old day of having somking/non-smoking sections....smoke and sound can travel through a flying mailing tube.

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Economy seats restrictions: Seat sizes in economy are standardized. So why not the passengers who sit in them? Passengers should have a limit on their waist size who sit in them. Too big requires two seats. This is for safety and comfort of normal-size passengers.

Christopher Elliott: They are. Many airlines, notably Southwest, has a policy that requires passengers "of size" to buy two tickets.

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[fill in the blank]-free zones: Yes, yes, child-free zones! Those little imps do nothing but make noise and move around (how dare they!). But why stop there? I'd like a zone free of the following: large people who spill into my seat, tall people who push up against the back of my seat, nappers who tilt their seats, folks that don't shower, wear too much perfume, a perfume I don't like, or simply smell like their lunch. Oh, and give me a zone free of talkers, hummers, singers, burpers, and anyone who uses a lap tray which impedes my ability to get in and out of my seat to use the facilities (I like the window seat but don't see why I need to be trapped the entire plane trip!). There, I am now happy. And riding on a plane by myself if I had my way. I wonder how much THAT trip will cost me? Come on, people. A plane is nothing more than a public conveyance (think Greyhound bus with wings) and can be utilized by any member of the public (barring security and safety issues, thank you very much) who can plunk down the cash.You want the [fill in the blank]-free zone of your dreams? Charter a flight. Otherwise, embrace your fellow man (figuratively, please) and get to your destination with a smile and perhaps an excellent anecdote for that business meeting you're trying to get to. Oh, and be that passenger you wish "everyone else" would be - see if it catches on. Cheers!

Joe Yonan: You've got the right attitude. Love it.

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Air France flights, #checked bags vs. carry-ons: Hello--Love the chats. I'm submitting early because I have a doctor's appointment this afternoon. I'll be flying to and from Europe next month on Air France to Barcelona, Spain. Because I haven't flown on this airline since the 70s--from Paris to Madrid in August of '74--I have two questions about checked bags and carry-ons. Question #1: How many bags am I permitted to check when traveling abroad? Question #2: How many carry-ons am I permitted to bring aboard the aircraft? One bag will be a backpack, the other will be a small duffel bag. Thanks for the assist.

Carol Sottili: "1 accessory (handbag, notebook computer, camera, etc." with a maximum total weight of 26.5 pounds.You can check one piece of luggage weighing no more than 50 pounds. You can check a second piece of luggage, but that'll cost you $55.

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Childfree behavior zones: It is not "child free" zones that we need, but "respect zones" that we need. Of course, children as less mature and perhaps more prone to not realize that their crying and kicking seats in front of them are not respectful of others, but I've seen and heard adults make more noise and tap seats in front of them while listening to music. We need "child behavior free zones".

Joe Yonan: I second the idea for a "respect zone": Could we make it the entire world, please?

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Kids/noise on planes - headphones?: There weren't enough answers to the poll...I was mildly offended, not very. The question implies that kids are the only annoying passengers on airplanes. I find smelly people, loud people, and drunk people to be far more unpleasant than the average child or baby. I'd like to be segregated from those people...good luck figuring out how to do that. And as someone with sever allergies, I NEED to be segregated from pets, and there's no way to do that either. That brings me to my question. For coping with loud, annoying people of any age or stripe on an airplane...can you or the readers please recommend a good set of noise-canceling headphones for about $50 dollars? I need specific brand names, please, and can't afford much more than that. Thank you!

Joe Yonan: had decent experience with Sony noise-canceling headphones, but they're not as good as the Bose ones, which are way out of the $50 price range. The Sony are better than nothing, though!

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Southwest: Hi,I do not see how this would happen on Southwest. For example, a flight from Vegas lands in Chicago to pick up new passengers. Current passengers move to the front, naturally. One 5 year old child would not shut up (even at the encouragement of his father) the entire trip to Baltimore. I wish the flight attendant banned the father and son to another section of the plane. Southwest has an open seat policy. I would love for this to happen, even pay for it, but it will not work. Thanks.

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Travel Spelling: I welcomed the article by the Ombudsman with the title "As errors grow, so does a credibility gap", which appeared on the same day as this sentence in the Travel Section:- "Skyscanner, a travel search site that compares airline ticket prices, posed that question to more than 2,000 people after one Florida woman sued Quantas Airlines, claiming that a screaming baby on board a flight from Australia made her ears bleed." Quantas???? QANTAS!!! Are the proof readers doing this to you?

Joe Yonan: Ouch. I hate that. We all take responsibility for it -- reporter shouldn't make error, assignment editor (me and Zofia) should catch it, and copy desk should catch it. The copy desk is our last line of defense, and as you saw in the ombudsman's column, their ranks have shrunk, unfortunately.

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Thanksgiving in Aruba: I've been searching for fares and the lowest I've been able to find (without 12+ hours for a layover) is $730. I had no idea it was so expensive to go to Aruba. Is there some trick to getting a lower flight? Am I searching on the wrong day, or at the wrong time?

Carol Sottili: You'll pay through the nose for flights to the Caribbean or just about anywhere else over the Thanksgiving holiday. Price is closer to $400 round trip earlier in November. The old supply/demand explanation.

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Air Zones: I'd prefer they establish a quiet zone. Anyone who wants to talk above a whisper sits in either the back or front, and the ones who don't take the other. Children too young to follow verbal commands would have to join the talker zone.

Joe Yonan: Ah, the old quiet-car strategy taken to the plane. Interesting. I'd suggest that it be toward the front, because the back can often be noisier from the engine anyway (particularly on smaller planes, right?).

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Child-Friendly Areas on Airplanes: I have compassion for children who fly - their schedules are disrupted, its hard to sit still for a long period of time, etc. Its not the kids' fault - but what I take exception to are parents who have a "oh what the heck" attitude and make little if no effort to show consideration to the other passengers when their kids melt down. Case in point: when I was flying back on a nonstop flight from San Diego to Washington DC last month, a young girl (maybe 3 or 4 years old, I would guess), grabbed the hair of an elderly lady in the seat ahead of her. The parents' reaction was, oh isn't that cute. The lady whose hair was grabbed was gracious the first time, but as her hair was grabbed and pulled again, with no effort on the parents to control their child, she finally did turn around and ask the parents to please control their child. She said this in a firm but still nice way. The parents were huffy about it, muttering loudly that she must not like children. The lady replied that she has several grandchildren, and she wouldn't allow them to act like this. Spontaneous applause from those seated around her. Why not have areas of the plane set aside for parents and young children?

Joe Yonan: Great story. I do tend to agree that it's the parents, not the children, who are at fault when the kids are out of control.

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KIDS ON PLANES: There also should be a pet free zone as well

Christopher Elliott: And don't forget the peanut-free zone, too.

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child free zone: Yes, children can be annoying, but then so can the sound of the engine , the lack of leg room , the guy coughing behind you. Suck it up -- we were all children. Maybe we would have better kids if all adults responded to children wherever they are instead of ignoring them.

Joe Yonan: I like your thoughts about us all responding better to children. It does seem to help when strangers are nice, doesn't it?

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Sunmitting Comments to DOT: Personally I disliked the site and the confusion with it. So I did a work around. I emailed people directly: daeleen.chesley@dot.gov, blane.workie@dot.gov with the comments/concerns I had.

Christopher Elliott: That works, too -- although, in order for your comments to be considered in the rulemaking process, you need to submit them through one of the approved channels.

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Switzerland: just returned from a week in Bern, the Bernese Alps and Lucerne. My only regret: Should have spent more time in the Alps and less in the cities. The Moench, Eiger, Jungfrau mountains seemingly touchable from my balcony will be what I remember most.

Joe Yonan: Nice! And thanks for the pic!

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not just child free, add child full area: As a parent I would feel more comfortable flying if I knew the anti-child people would be far away from me and that I would be surrounded by families dealing with the same travel challenges as me. I think this is a great idea. I could be a lot more relaxed when I fly. Now that I think about it, I might be willing to pay a little extra if I knew the anti-child people would be kept away from me.

Joe Yonan: It works both ways, doesn't it?

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Surprised?: "I was surprised to find that United Airlines charges $250 to issue a credit to reflect a reduction in airfare after a ticket has already been issued"Why would anyone be surprised by that? Do you think you get to lock in a price and then get a new one if it goes lower? What if it goes up? Are you sending United a check?

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Florida Chick: my two girls, both quite slender, are great deals for their cross country seat-mates. they keep their elbows off the seat edges, put their bags under the seat, not above, and read or watch seatback entertainment. they have each observed that on several occasions the people beside them fully engulfed the armrest and 'spread out' in the space my kids do not take up.they are easy to get past for the bathroom and never get drunk, take off their shoes or page flight attendants.a good deal for adults nearby!

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Free ticket re-issue if fares go down?: Sadly, no, with most airlines. On the plus side, you don't have to pay any extra if the fares go up. Ridiculous? Any more than getting a discount if fares go down? If you buy a shirt or pants at a department store, or food in a grocery store, or a hotel room, do you get a discount if prices go down? You buy when it looks good and you take your chances.

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segregation is a bad idea: I resent any attempt to segregate families from the general population. Annoying disturbances are not restricted to people with children.We were flying home from Orlando and I was livid that the airport staff forced us to join a line of families that consisted of one security gate. I have traveled numerous times with my daughter since she was an infant and I am much more efficient at the security thing than the majority of non-business travelers. I don't mind having a dedicated family line but it should be a choice.On all of my travels, I would say that only once were children a problem and that was on a flight to Italy where an extended family of 10 people had commandeered the aisles.

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NYC for Labor Day?: CrewI am thinking about heading on the bus to NYC for Labor Day-- I have a relatively good deal on a hotel in Midtown. Will everyone be out of town? I have been to NYC before (and I went there for college 20 years ago), but I am torn about going.. A big part why I'm thinking of going is that I am moving to the west coast so this may be the last time for awhile before I'll visit NYC again.Thanks for your thoughts.

Joe Yonan: There will still be plenty of people in NYC, don't worry; even if a lot of locals head away for the weekend, believe me, it's no ghost town. If you got a good hotel deal, I say grab it. BTW, what hotel did you find at a good rate? I'm always on the lookout!

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Children on planes: I fly about once or twice a month. I have been noticing lately that many families (i.e. mother, father, toddler, and baby) book their tickets with separate seats, only to expect other people to move so that the whole family can sit together. I find it unacceptable that families book separate tickets and expect other travelers, who pre-planned and paid for their coveted window or aisle seat, to move because of their hastiness (or cheapness). I understand in certain circumstances, but why do these families feel almost entitled to forcing people move from their assigned seats? Why can't they simply pre-plan like the rest of us, or drive if they want to sit together? I don't mean to be harsh, but as a single woman who is frequently the target of being asked to move (I am tiny, so obviously it is easier to stick a smaller woman in a middle seat) I am just fed up.

Joe Yonan: I sympathize. Since I often travel alone, I do frequently get asked if I'll switch. If it's switching to another aisle seat, I'm fine, but I absolutely won't sit in the middle or window, because I just get too claustrophobic and stressed out. I pick my seat early so I can get the one I want. I don't mind being asked, but I do mind being snipped at if I say no.

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Please get out of my lap.: The kids are okay. What pains me is when people recline the seats. The only time they should be reclined is on an overnight flight where everyone reclines and goes to sleep. Otherwise it is just rude to slam your seat back onto someone's knees so you can have a couple extra inches. People are too selfish to consider the person behind them though, so airlines should disable the reclining mechanism.

Joe Yonan: Yeah, I think this is because airplanes foster an every-person-for-him/herself mentality. You think, well, they're letting me recline, and things are so cramped by gosh I'm going to recline! But I see your point.

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A different kind of 'baggage': Flight Crew,Can anyone recommend a good carryon that would be durable, carry a good amount of books/clothes, yet won't ignite a firestorm on this chat about taking up bin space? Your cousin-brothers at Slate had a writeup on a bag from Patagonia, but while it sounded good, it retails for $180, which is a bit pricey (I'd like to have enough to put towards the actual flight). Any good recs? Thanks!

Andrea Sachs: (I have been eyeing the Adventure Tote for $30.) Ditto for Eagle Creek. I would also suggest looking at eBags, where you can search by price. The site carries the major retailers, most of which are solid choices (read the comments before you buy).

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Alexandria, VA: People need to get over themselves and their feelings of self importance. So what if some kid cries on an airplane. Airplanes are the epitome of inconvenience. Should we outlaw all obnoxious behavior on airplanes? I'll vote for that. From the frazzled traveler showing up at the last second with a bigger than should be allowed carry on and then acting surprised when there's no space in the overheads, to the people that won't move their knees to allow you to get to your window seat to those people bringing their own stinky food on the plane to drunk college kids to the fat person who wants to lift the armrest, you should all be banned.And the planes can fly empty because when all get to say who is obnoxious, no one will be allowed to fly.

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MSC Cruising: I have an opportunity to take an east Canadian cruise on the MSC Poesia. Although the price is right and the itinerary sounds good, I am concerned because I've read that MSC, as a European cruiseline, allows rampant smoking. Do you know if this is true? If they do not allow it on the North American cruises, is the smoke smell still imbedded in the fabrics in the rooms from previous trips? Truthfully, this is the one point that will 'yea' or 'nay' the trip. Thanks for the Monday chats - I actually arrange my work schedule so I can be a part of them!

Carol Sottili:

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A very bad idea: We really need to learn how to get along with people who are no exactly like us. That includes children. Separating yourself from those who behave differently is just the first step on a slippery slope. No good.

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Childfree: I would, in absolute seriousness, pay a hefty surcharge to have a childfree flight. Yes, there are annoying loud adults, but between the wails and the smell of a loaded diaper, I'd rather not fly with kids if I can avoid it.I think everyone, even the most hardened kid hater, understands that sometimes children are just going to meltdown. The problem is not the meltdown. The problem is the parent's reaction to it, or rather, their non-reaction.

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Re Child Free Zone: Rather than a child free zone, I'd like to see a "stinky food" zone. I remember a flight from DC to Providence RI on which two passengers across the aisle from me had large smelly sandwiches the perfumed the area. But then I'd also like to go back to the good ole days when we dressed up for flights (that couple with the sandwiches were attired in running shorts and flip-flops), had two seats on either side of the aisle with decent leg room, and were served food (not the $5 box option).

Joe Yonan: As somebody who loves smelly sandwiches, I would like to sit in this zone, too -- particularly if people shared!

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Child free zones: I would love to see child-free zones on planes! I rarely fly, but when I do I always end up sitting around kids. I've had to deal with a variety of bad behaviors from my chair being kicked and listening to screaming during the whole flight. I realize that kids can't always control themselves, especially given cabin pressure, but I would like to see parents make more of an effort. In light of the fact that parents seem less inclined to parent these days I think that child-fee zones is a good compromise. I see no reason why families with kids can't be grouped together on the plane. Many trains have quiet cars so passengers can get work done or relax. It shouldn't be any different on a plane.

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Child free zones: The issue with children has more to do with babies and toddlers than if the children are say 8+ where they usually know how to behave.

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Peanut child pet free zones: But how will I bring aboard my baby elephant?!

Christopher Elliott: a pig on a plane a few years ago. Why not an elephant?

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SUV rental in Utah: Not sure where s/he flew into but if you fly into SLC you can get cars pretty cheaply but because of alot of off road driving in the state the cost demand for high clearance vehicles is high thus they can charge an extremly high cost.This would be even higher if this was rented in say st george or moab. Just like the larger airports the rental car costs are cheaper than those in smaller airports with limited supply.If the person planned on upgrading the vehicle at the time of pick up they can get away with charging alot as opposed if you reserved it on the time of your travel plans.

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New plane section: Perhaps we need a section of the plane for all these whining people who were never children themselves?

Joe Yonan: Snap!

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why now?: Is this change to noon permanent?

Joe Yonan: We're trying to boost our numbers, so moving to peak Web-traffic time. Do you like it, hate it, feel indifferent?

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NoVa: What is with people and the hostility. My guess is that they are all childless and have the same kind of self-entitled attitude this country has become famous for. If I pay full price for my child to fly, she gets a seat. Period. Do we charge extra for smelly people? Rude people? People who don't shut up while you are trying to sleep?My 3 year old just completed a very successful trip to Europe with us. She had her moments, but we were well prepared. She was mostly (relatively) quiet, and was very patient when we had an unscheduled 2 hour stop in Syracuse on the way home because Philly was shut down due to thunderstorms. I heard adults moan, groan and use foul language, and my daughter just sat back and went with it. She was more well behaved than most of the adults that thought they were soooooooo important. All the flight attendants and near-by passengers all told her how great she was.I think that by assuming children are going to be bad, we ensure that is going to be the case. Leave my responsibility to me and mind your own business.

Joe Yonan: I think if all parents were as skilled as you, and all children as well-behaved, we probably wouldn't be having this discussion! But I have to say, I have also had far more frequent problems with adult behavior on planes than with that of children.

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Any thought on what the cost will be: You add up child free zone say an extra $10-$20...peanut free zone extra $10-$20pet free zone $10-$20The airlines can get extra revenue......

Christopher Elliott: Please, don't give them any more ideas!

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animals on board: According to some posts on Flyer Talk you are allowed to bring your falcon on-board many Middle Eastern airlines. Apparently the falconer keeps the bird on his forearm.

Joe Yonan: CAW!

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Chicago - Playa del Carmen over the holidays: First, the kids zone - we were all once kids, so I don't see why there can't be a little empathy here. I've sat next to a pair of 6 and 8 year-old unaccompanied kids who were better behaved that many adults; a really handsome father who couldn't console a bawling infant who got the attention and help of every woman on the plane, and a clueless mother who brought nothing for her kid to swallow (cheerios, juice, goldfish crackers) to ease the pressure equalization on landing. If the parents are experienced flyers they know how to keep the kids occupied and quiet - maybe the airlines can do some education outreach.My question - I'm going to Playa del Carmen next week, and also have my plane ticket for 2 weeks there over the Christmas-New Year period. I thought it would be a good idea to try to negotiate a good hotel rate in December, while I'm there in person in September. I'm finding places that are $100 now (hurricane season) are $150 over the holidays (prime time.) What would you recommend as a strategy? There are TONS of mid-priced family run places - how do I find those willing to negotiate and cut a deal? Two weeks guaranteed? Up-front cash deposit? Should I just go for an upgrade? ( throw in breakfast?) I'm not typically a bargainer, but I know in my gut it never hurts to ask.

Joe Yonan: I think two weeks guaranteed, with a deposit, would probably open people up to bargaining, absolutely. It's worth a shot!

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DC to Gulf?: I've got a few bucks to blow, and the Gulf coast needs em. So if I wanted to take a weekend somewhere along there, where would you recommend? I don't particularly enjoy shopping or gambling; I like most other things--nature walks, history, culture, music, food, museums. Bonus if I could get there easily from DC because I could probably only do a Friday night-Sunday night excursion. Thanks!

Joe Yonan: Well, I always find it hard to resist New Orleans, where you've got the last four things on your list in spades.

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Maine: One thing absolutely not to miss is the Desert of Maine; it's not far from L.L. Bean and is well worth the visit. And yes, that's really sand there!

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Stop asking the Chat Crew about airline rules re: baggage sizes: Clearly you can access the internet - just go to the airline's website and look it up yourself!

Joe Yonan: We don't mind answering!

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Children issue not just about noise: Until I read the post about the child pulling the elderly woman's hair, I thought I'd just been unlucky to find one of the only children so poorly behaved sitting in front of me. The vile spawn stood up in his seat (while the seatbelt sign was on), pulled my hair and hit me. His mother simply said "oh, he wants to play." I was tempted to say "oh, I want to play, too!" and smack the monster. I understand babies/young children crying because they are in pain from the flight, but ASSAULTING other passengers is not OK.

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DC: I am really, really not a fan of kids in general, but on planes I mind the parents more than I mind their children. As on a recent flight that thankfully lasted only two and a half hours, why would you give your kid a bunch of toys that make noise? If I can hear the blips and bleeps and shrieks from his game boy and electronic whatnot, it's WAY too loud. Bless the flight attendant who came by (after 30 minutes) and asked her to shut them off.

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RVs for beginners: My wife and I, well, one of us has reached the age at which staying at campgrounds is no longer an option to due nighttime access needs. We would like to try renting an RV instead. Any suggestions as to what's the best way to experiment with a short journey?

Andrea Sachs: with big roads and communities of RVs, so you can get some tips.

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Renting a Car in Aruba: My last experience w/renting a car was not a good one (was nickeled and dimed by one of the cheaper places). I have never rented a car in a foreign country, but will be doing so next month in Aruba. Any suggestions for how to avoid a bad experience?

Carol Sottili: I'd probably book in advance through a company I know. Several name-brand car rental firms do business in Aruba, including Thrifty, Alamo, Avis, National and Budget.

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Child-free zone: I would love to see a child-free zone on airplanes...and would pay for it. A few months ago I flew from DC to Frankfurt via United. I decided to upgrade to Economy Plus for the extra leg room and also in hopes that there would less children since it was $97 to upgrade. However, I ended up being stuck next to a family of seven children (youngest was a baby up to 11/12 yrs old) who I don't think paid the $97/per ticket, but were probably placed there because economy was full.....very frustrating to pay for something and then see others get it for free because they weren't given seat assignments until boarding....

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Kids & Planes: Just endured flights to and from Orlando, non-stop travel and non-stop screaming babies and toddlers. I have teenagers, so I've been through the stages, and it's not that I don't understand that sometimes some children are capable of crying for hours. What I don't understand is why current parents of toddlers think it's acceptable to inflict their offspring's tiredness, or hunger, or bad mood, or whatever is making them scream and sob ceaselessly, on others. One solution? First, charge a higher fee for passengers under 5. Second, seat all families with infants and toddlers in the back of the plane, preferably with a curtain screening some of the noise. Maybe if the parents have to pay extra, they'll rethink the good old American road trip, and only the immediate family will have to endure the assault on the ears.

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are they going to make a soundproofed vault?: Not sure how they would do a child-free zone unless they are prepared to wall off and soundproof a section. We flew on a BA night flight to Heathrow and a toddler yelled all night for her Mama. Each time she yelled, someone apparently not her Mama would shush her, and she would yell again, only louder and the someone would shush her--louder. This went on the entire blessed night.... A child-free zone would have not helped--the unfortunate child and shusher were on the other side of the plane and invisible to me, but still very audible.

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Flying to Madrid: I will be traveling to Madrid on business at the end of September, and saw the only options for direct flights from Dulles are Aer Lingus and Iberia. Both seem to have mixed reputations online; do you have experience or recommendations for one or the other? Or is it better to fly a connecting flight on another airline? Thanks!

Carol Sottili: United offers a nonstop, but the flights are operated by Aer Lingus. I would do that rather than connect.

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Carry-ons: Lands' End has a new line of carry-ons (some rolling, some more duffel-style) that seem well-designed.

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Switching Seats: To the poster who wrote about being asked to switch seats. As a family with a young child, we try our hardest to book our seats together. Sometimes the airlines randomly assign seats based on availability or price point. These seats aren't always together, and we don't always know this until we check-in and the flight is booked solid. I'm sorry if I have to ask you to switch seats. You are within your right to say no. But, if you agree to switch, you may be saved from a headache of listening to my child cry for the parent they are not sitting by!

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Carry-ons: I LOVE LL Bean's adventure duffles--for storage and durability, you can't beat them. I'm petite (5'3") so carrying them when they're full can be sort of tricky--that's the only thing I have against them for flights. But they come in a wheeled-version, too, which would probably be better--too bad this was introduced after I got mine! Their backpacks are also excellent.

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Service Dogs: Are allowed in cabin and do not have to be in carriers. FEMA SAR Dogs travel in coach to training w/o issues. Their crates would not fit on the plane and yes the airlines do charge. I would rather have real dogs in cabin then twenty something tech nerds.

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Child-free zone?: What kind of "zone"? How huge are the plane people are flying that they cannot hear a screaming child from one end of the plane to the other? Creating such a zone would be unfeasible and leave most of the seats empty or require sound barriers between zones. Additionally, having such zones would just get the airlines another fee to tack on.

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Best Way to Get to Dulles Airport from N.E. DC: I have a 6:40 pm flight to London on Labor Day, and I need to find the easiest way to get to Dulles via public transportation. I'll be near the Rhode Island Ave. Metro station as a starting point. Does the subway go all the way there, or is there a bus I can take, or some combination of the two?

Joe Yonan: By bus: Metrobus runs a D.C.-Dulles bus (5A) that originates at the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station and stops at the Rosslyn Metro, the Tysons-Westpark Transit Station (at Jones Branch Drive and Spring Hill Road in McLean) and the Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride Lot (on Sunrise Valley Drive in Herndon). Buses depart L'Enfant Plaza every 25 to 45 minutes from 4:50 a.m. to 10:38 p.m. weekdays and depart nearly hourly from 5:30 a.m. to 10:35 p.m. weekends. Buses depart Dulles about every 40 to 50 minutes from 5:50 a.m. to 11:40 p.m. weekdays and about hourly from 6:32 a.m. to 11:40 p.m. weekends. The trip to or from L'Enfant Plaza takes about 50 minutes. Info: 202-637-7000, http://www.wmata.com. The Washington Flyer express bus travels from the West Falls Church Metro station to Dulles every 30 minutes starting at 6:15 a.m. weekdays and 8:15 a.m. weekends and holidays until 10:45 p.m. Buses depart Dulles every 30 minutes starting at 5:45 a.m. weekdays and 7:45 a.m. weekends and holidays until 10:15 p.m. The trip is 20 to 30 minutes. Buses depart Dulles at Door 4 on the arrivals level of the main terminal. Info: 888-927-4359, http://www.washfly.com.

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It's not just airplanes: I've noticed that a significantly growing population of parents are more lax about their children's behavior in public than used to be. This is not just an airplane issue. It used to be much more common that parents of fussy children would take the upset child out of the main area (say a lobby or rest room or outside) or would work on quieting the child immediately. Now, I see far more parents who let the child cry, or just stay in the area disrupting the experience for many around them. Rather than a child-free seating zone, I think it would be better if parents were to take their child to the back galley (provided that the attendants are not serving drinks at the time) or rest room area to quiet them down. I know that this is very disruptive on those in the last couple of rows, but with the walls, it should be easier to contain the complaints. I think flight attendants should be able to comment to a parent that they need to quiet their child. I just flew to the west coast and back last week and there were two sets of parents who did not make any effort to quiet a screaming upset child. To me, those were the passengers who were misbehaving and needed to be chided.

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spend some dough: I sometimes buy a small (packaged) toy or rattle and offer it, unwrapped, to a kid in meltdown mode. A small puzzle or jumbles booklet works well for older kids. My secret weapon is an old Timex watch with 'day-glo' face you press in the wind button and the face appears to light up.works well on evening flights with fussy tots; they press it on and off happily for 10 mins. or more. be proactive. worth the small bucks.

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Ageism: I am not sure why disliking children for being children is any more socially acceptable than disliking African-Americans for being African-Americans, Hispanics for being Hispanics, etc. This is about the clearest possible case of the empowered lording it over the disempowered as you can get. If you don't like kids, point the finger at your own bigoted self.

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Frequent Flyer Miles?: I am about 3000 miles short of a free domestic round-trip ticket on Delta, and 'm trying to decide if it's worth buying the extra miles to make up the difference (since the rest of my miles expire in February) or if the price of the ticket itself would end up being cheaper. Do you have any recommendations on good frequent flyer miles explanation sites or websites to buy/trade airline miles?

Christopher Elliott: There's only one way to find out. Get a price quote for a ticket, and then compare it to the cost of the miles. (You can value a mile at $1, but most airlines consider them worth a few pennies, at most, for internal purposes.) If it were up to me, I'd always err on the side of redeeming the miles sooner rather than later.

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San Francisco stairways: Havibng returned from San Francisco on Saturday, August 28, I enjoyed the article yesterday on stairways in San Francisco. However, you do readers a disservice by recommending a hotel in the Union Square area that charges $290 per nigh (and which was not among the recommended hotels in any of the three San Francisco guidebooks I had at hand). Reasonably comfortable hotels are available in that area for less than half that rate. We stayed in at the Andrews, in an acceptable room, with a great staff, good included breakfast and evening drink for about $105 a night.

Joe Yonan: Glad you liked the piece! I got my room at the Clift on Jetsetter, so it was more like $180, but I take your point. It's a great hotel, btw.

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How about loudtalking free zones? Or rude flight attendant free zones?: We travel with our children a few times per year. It is always stressful, no matter how laid back we try to make the trip. One these trips, i think i am most amazed at the rude behavior of supposed "adults". We have witnessed all types of bad behavior. Loud talking, swearing, inability to follow directions (cellphones on when they shouldn't be, reclined seats) and just general rudeness. Most kids (and frankly most adults) are considerate travellers. It is unfortunate that a few can ruin the experience for others. The big difference between "kids" and supposed "adults" is that "adults" should really know to behave better.I don't konw how many children witnessed the recent incident on the JetBlue flight by supposed "adults". Children are the problem? Really?To any airline that wants to start the childfree zone: the boycott starts with me!

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families and separate seats: Hey, we're not booking separate seats! What you are proposing is simply whack-a-doodle. Why would we pay the booking surcharge a million times over instead of booking all at once? Come on now, use common sense. We make a reservation, just like everyone else, and the AIRLINE assigns us seats that are not together. Then we're left to scramble to get our group back together, when we've already been assured 30 times that we would be seated together in the first place. Do you think we ENJOY having our family scattered all over the aircraft? Do you honestly think we don't call ahead to try to stop the airline from seating our 4 year old by himself in an exit row? We call, we confirm, and it makes no difference... by the time we get our tickets, the whole thing is screwed up and we're left scrambling. So I am sorry you have an emotional attachment to seat 16A but your choices are this: petition the airline to get their act together, babysit my child for the next 4 hours, or play nice and move your seat.

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multiple topics!: 1. don't complain when the airline won't lower your fare when the price drops if you aren't willing to pay more when the price increases after you bought your ticket.2. Child free zones are ridiculous, and I doubt they would be legal anyway, but I would like to see the lap child issue eliminated. No matter what, if you are holding your child, you are making the trip more uncomfortable for those next to you and less safe for your child. EVERY passenger should in his or her own seat, and kids should be strapped into a car seat on their own seat.

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New poll question: Which is worseKids on planessnakes on planes

Joe Yonan: "I've had it with these (expletive) kids on this (expletive) plane!" Hilarious.

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No Child Free Zones: But could we have No 20 something overeducated think they are important, can't stop texting or drinking zones on planes? The next time one of these fools tries to move my bag from the overhead storage down a few rows or from over my seat I wil personally stuff them into the overhead bin. And no I won't move so you can sit with your friends. I followes SW rules and got my seat on the aisle. Sorry if you were too drunk or lazy to do so!

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Newport, RI: I'm headed to Newport for a long weekend in October. Besides the mansions, what else should I make sure not to miss?

Joe Yonan: Believe it or not, it's also got a pretty fun nightlife scene.

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Traveling to Paris: Hi Gurus: I'm deciding between flights to arrive in Paris (from DC). One arrives at around 5:45 am, the other around 11 am. in Paris. I'm thinking we'll be dog tired once we arrive and won't be able to check in to our hotel until mid-afternoon. So, it would probably be best to pick the later flight. Any tips, tricks, or other things to consider when deciding?

Carol Sottili:

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Families sitting together: It would be great if it were always possible to find three or four seats together (I've got twins). This, sadly, isn't always possible. Our Saturday night flight was recently cancelled and rescheduled to early Sunday morning. We HAD seats together on the cancelled flight. Not on the new flight. So, it comes down to self interest. Do you want to be a possible new best buddy for my kid or let me collect the brood? Fortunately, there are enough current and former parents out there (along with understanding adults) to help out those with the younger set.

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Children: I don't need a childfree zone, I'd just like parents to parent their kids. It's not okay for your son to scream for daddy from Chicago to Seattle while you read a magazine. Or for your baby to scream while you do nothing to soothe her. And don't let your kid grab my hair either. It's long for me, not for your child to fondle.

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families and separate seats: "We make a reservation, just like everyone else, and the AIRLINE assigns us seats" When I make a reservation I pick my seat. But I book early and don't go standby. You get what you pay for.

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Children: I once arrived at my seat to find the woman next to me changing her baby ON MY SEAT, without a changing pad. When I sat down (gingerly), she said that she knew no one liked sitting next to a baby, so I could trade my (aisle) seat for her husband's (middle) seat. I did it so that the family could sit together, but there was no "please" or "thank you" involved. The whole experience was quite odd.

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Child Free: Once on an overnight flight, we were assigned the seats in the front (which has the space for bassinets). My husband quickly scanned the back rows...identified a family with a young baby and offered them our seats in exchange for theirs at the back.I was obviously miffed to give up the extra leg room, but mid-flight found that the front seats which had three babies was so loud with the babies crying, parents shuffling around constantly that was glad we moved to the relative quiet of the back rows. My husband was actually thinking the same - and not really being kind to strangers :)Now with a kid of our own, we love the bassinet seats and ensure we book far in advance to get those seats.

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Child free zone: I don't think we should cut the kids a break. If an adult started screaming on a plane that person would be escorted off. We are supposed to accept that in a child? If a child can't follow the same rules that apply to adults it should not be traveling.

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Kids: If we can't do child-free flights, could we at least do "no changing diapers in your seat" flights? And as a subset of that, "no putting dirty diapers in the seat pocket in front of you" flights? (Sadly, dear readers, this was not an isolated incident.)

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Momma of a baby: To the poster who said all kids should be in a car seat - safety issues aside, if you want to hear a screaming kid the entire way, strap 'em down! Sorry, but this is not the way to keep kids quiet. It limits how the child can be soothed and distracted. For a breastfed baby, mom can't feed them when they're strapped in (breastfeeding babies during takeoff and landing helps with the ear pressure issue - remember, babies can't chew gum and you can't explain to them to yawn to release the pressure).I'll be flying with my baby for the first time when she is a year old. I'm already dreading the nasty passenger reactions to having a baby near them, before she even makes a peep.I've encountered enough rude, loud, drunk and smelly passengers to largely outnumber the upset babies I've heard.Now the 4 year old brat kicking on my seat - that's a parenting issue and infuriates the heck out of me!

Joe Yonan: I ALMOST said the same thing about the car-seat thing. One of the reasons parents hold their child is to keep them from screaming! Thanks for this.

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Assigned seats: Hello,Except for Southwest, how is it that people are not choosing their exact seats when booking? I'm confused by the family posters saying that they try their best. Are they using a discounter website and taking their chances? If that's the case, then pay more for the actual airline website.

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For the Flyer going to Madrid...: Iberia certainly does fly direct IAD-Madrid, or at least they did when I took them about 2 months ago! As for their reputation, I think they are pretty much the same as any domestic airline, and wouldn't hesitate to fly them again if they were the cheapest/most convenient option...

Carol Sottili: I see it now. Only certain days of week.

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frugal trip ideas for the dogs: So when it comes to travelling, our family always has to take into account the cost of boarding our dogs.We were thinking of taking a short weekend road trip where we could take the dogs but does not involving camping. Any recommendations?

Andrea Sachs: There are loads of options, because so many hotels these days allow dogs. I am not sure of what you are thinking: city, country, ocean, river. One suggestion is Shenandoah, which has loads of pet-friendly accommodations, such as river cabins and the Skyland Resort. After Labor Day, beaches ease up on dog restrictions, so consider the Outer Banks or the Jersey Shore.

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Delta miles expiring: For the question about buying miles - not a good idea as 4000 miles cost $112. I would join the delta rewards dining program - earning a few miles will keep those expiring miles active for another 24 months.

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Joe Yonan: Whew! That was a hot topic, indeed, wasn't it? Well, glad we could give you space to vent, and hopefully you also learned a little bit of something in the meantime.Now for our giveaway prize: It goes to the chatter who titled his/her post "(fill-in-the-blank) zone" and said, among other things, "Embrace your fellow man (figuratively, please)," good advice humorously put. Email us at travel@washpost.com, and we'll send you a little something.See you next week here at noon. Until then, happy travels!

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