My love-hate relationship with airlines (I love to hate 'em)

  @FortuneMagazine February 10, 2014: 5:55 PM ET
QUI22 airline passenger
(Fortune)

When you board a plane with an almost-2-year-old in tow, you know that every other passenger is eyeing you warily with one thought: "Please don't let her be my seatmate."

As a frequent business flier, I understand what my fellow travelers are hoping for: a chance to catch up on reading, watch a movie, or take a nap. So on a recent flight with my toddler, I came prepared with a backpack of tools to keep my son quiet: books, sippy cups, animal crackers, toy cars, and -- the pièce de résistance -- a portable DVD player.

The DVD player was the magic charm. For over an hour my son sat silently watching Disney's Cars. Then the flight attendant passed by and heard the faint sounds of the movie's dialogue, and -- unprompted by any fellow passengers -- demanded that we either use headphones or shut off the player. (Clearly she's never tried to get a 20-month-old to wear headphones.) I protested. She insisted, citing company rules. I shut off the DVD player. My fellow passengers paid the price, suffering through the meltdown that ensued when Lightning McQueen's big race went black. This rule -- which may make sense in certain situations -- did not make sense in this one. Trust me, every passenger in earshot would have voted to hear Cars over the sounds of a crying toddler ... or the sounds of a desperate mother singing "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" 83 times in a row to quiet him.

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