Outrage of the Week #2! British Airways Treats All Men as Pervs

Dear Readers: Businessman Mirko Fischer is disgusted with British Airways for treating all men as perverts and I hope he sues their pants off (as it were).  Here’s tsafhdfahr
the deal:

The airline’s policy states that a grown male is not allowed to sit next to any child he doesn’t know.  It doesn’t matter if the kid’s parents are elsewhere on the plane, the revolting pervert…er…possessor of a Y chromosome MUST change his seat or the plane will not take off.

I am so on Fischer’s side! His suit arises from a trip he and his 6-months-pregnant wife were taking. His wife wanted to sit next to the window to be more comfortable, so he sat in the middle seat. Next to him sat a 12-year-old boy. The steward asked Fischer to change his seat and when Fischer refused, the steward ostensibly raised his voice and Fischer felt humiliated. Eventually he did change seats, but he is suing to make his point (and he’ll donate any compensation to charity): It is wrong to treat ALL MALES as a sexual threat to children. As he put it so well:

“Statistically, children are far more likely to be abused by a member of their family. Does that mean that British Airways are going to ban children sitting next to their own parents?”

It really doesn’t surprise me that it is a British airline with this policy, as Britain already demands adults undergo background checks when they want to have ANY contact with children — be it as the class mother who brings in cupcakes, or as the mom or dad who carpools kids more than once a month.

It is a country gone crazy with pervert fear, seeing smut in every smile and depravity in every dad. But the best way to protect kids from abuse is not to separate them from the entire adult male population. It is to teach them to say no to untoward advances, and report on anyone or anything creepy.

A creepy, weird, sex-obsessed airline, for instance. — Lenore

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102 Responses to Outrage of the Week #2! British Airways Treats All Men as Pervs

  1. shortylion January 18, 2010 at 9:22 am #

    Wow, that is crazy. I hope this guy gets some press and embarrasses British Airways to change their policy.

  2. Amy January 18, 2010 at 9:48 am #

    I generally hate this lawsuit crazy world, but if ever a case was ripe for a lawsuit, this is it!

    I flew home from Europe this summer with my 4 children. We couldn’t all get seats together, so my 7 year old daughter was seated in the row in from of me. A wonderful man sat next to her and was so sweet and helpful to her the whole long way. He helped her get her headphones to work and unpack those plastic utensils.

    Being male doesn’t make you a pedophile!

  3. Mad Woman January 18, 2010 at 9:54 am #

    How ridiculous! We’ve had our children sitting next to unknown males on all forms of public transport and never, ever had an issue. I’d like to see if they could cite even one case of a male abusing an unknown child while on a plane, surrounded by other passengers. And even if there is ONE case (I can’t say for sure that there isn’t), I still think it’s silly to paint all these men with the same brush.

  4. HSmom January 18, 2010 at 10:30 am #

    Wow… just wow…. This makes me so sad. I worry about what kind of world my children will live in as adults. I hate to think of my dear, sweet baby-loving sons as being thought of as child molesters simply because of their Y chromosomes.

  5. Tana January 18, 2010 at 10:37 am #

    insane! my dad has flown a LOT over the years, and i can’t tell you the times i’ve seen him come off of a plane carrying a stroller, a car seat, or even a small child b/c some lady was traveling without adult company and he had offered to lend a hand. i’m willing to bet none of those ladies thought, “what a pervert!” more likely, “i’m so glad this guy was on my flight!” but that was before men became more and more limited in their interactions with other people for fear of being seen as predatory. free-range men, ftw!

  6. Catherine Scott January 18, 2010 at 11:01 am #

    Go easy on British airways! Save some blame for the other airlines for whom this is also policy, stated or not!

    Can have the occasional positive consequences. When I was flying home (to Australia) from Scandinavia (on another airline, not BA) with my 10 year old daughter, the cabin attendants ‘suggested’ to the man sitting next to her that he might be more comfortable elsewhere. His relocation mean that she and I had three seats to share among our two selves, much more comfy than the regulation two.

    Not that this compensated for the fact that my daughter was used as ‘proof’ that airport security does not target particular types of person at EVERY airport we went though on our European trip: she was taken aside and patted done for ‘just a wee random search’, as the Scots security person said when I finally lost it over the manhandling she was routinely subjected to. ‘Oh look! A little blonde girl! Lets pat her down!’

  7. Luca Masters January 18, 2010 at 11:15 am #

    “Statistically, children are far more likely to be abused by a member of their family. Does that mean that British Airways are going to ban children sitting next to their own parents?”

    This is an abuse of statistics. The relevant statistic would be normalized to how much access family members have v. strangers.

  8. Andy January 18, 2010 at 11:21 am #

    The ONLY thing this article makes me feel good about is the fact that it didn’t happen in America. It’s only a matter of time, however.

  9. Kelly January 18, 2010 at 11:24 am #

    Ugh, what will the world come to next?! Even here in the states it’s ridiculous. I bake cakes a lot for friends and my husband is so sweet to take our daughter out on Daddy Dates to get her out of my hair during crunch time and they often go to a nearby park to play. He gets all sorts of nasty looks from everyone if I’m not there and it really frustrates him. His other dad friends get the same thing and we live in a rather progressive city IMO (Austin TX). It makes me sick that a father can’t even be in public with his own children without being viewed as some sicko because there isn’t a woman in sight.

    I can understand an attendant suggesting to another passenger that they might be more comfortable away from kids, but only if that reason is to keep that person from going insane because kids can get wacky on flights, but because he *might* be a predator? Ridiculous! I hope he sues and wins!

  10. JeninCanada January 18, 2010 at 11:29 am #

    I’m really hoping Mirko wins his suit!

    Just as all people are not rapists, not all people are child molesters. (I’m using gender neutral language on purpose as it’s possible for both men and women to be both predators and victims/survivors of assault). It’s only a small percentage of any population that commits these crimes, and that population is often allowed to offend over and over again, allowed by the state/gov’t or by family/friends who know the abuse is happening but can’t/wont do anything about it.

  11. Annie @ PhD in Parenting January 18, 2010 at 11:36 am #

    Could I have him sit next to my child instead of the snooty woman who was shooting us dirty looks every time my 4 year old asked me a question on the flight?

  12. Sam Caldwell January 18, 2010 at 11:36 am #

    Sadly we forget that there ARE female sex offenders as well. Perhaps it would be safer for us to put these children in the baggage hold. No other passenger would be riding with them…and since the baggage hold is never pressurized, these children can be safely transported without fear that even the most determined passenger can gain access to them.

    …oh wait…that wouldn’t work either.

  13. SKL January 18, 2010 at 11:47 am #

    I do think the statistics are important. How often does a total stranger sexually bother a child in a public place? I mean, even when it isn’t a family member who is doing this, it’s usually someone who has had repeated contacts, has stalked the child for some time, and/or has abducted the child to where nobody could see what he was doing to him/her. Wouldn’t most adults be afraid the child would holler if a stranger put his hand someplace where it didn’t belong?

    A friend of mine was once telling me the woes of a long international flight he had recently taken. When most everyone was asleep, a small boy tugged on his arm and said, “will you please take me to the toilet? My dad is asleep.” So he obliged. That was about 20 years ago. If it happened today, what do you think might happen?

  14. Kimberly January 18, 2010 at 12:14 pm #

    My sister and I often sat separate from our parents on flights. I can thing of 2 problems with our neighbors. 1 – rowdy teenagers that tried to open the emergency door in flight, so sis and I were put on that row.

    2) a woman that refused to believe I am deathly allergic to Peanuts she
    a) threw the wrapper on the floor towards me
    b) swept off the Table top towards me
    c ) refused to let sis up to go to the bathroom. (she was planning to get our parents)

    So we asked the stewardess for help. When the man across the way heard he offered to switch seats with the woman. He and the stewardess both spoke to our parents on landing and told them what happened. At baggage claim, the woman stormed up and started to complain about us – my Dad told her walk away or I’ll call a cop and have you arrested for trying poison my child. She hightailed it out of there.


  15. Mae Mae January 18, 2010 at 12:41 pm #

    I have an idea, Sam. The airplane should have a daycare section that is staffed by screened workers. That way the children can’t be exposed to any potentially dangerous passenger. It would also make flying with my children a much more enjoyable experience 😉 Sounds like a win/win to me!

  16. Randy January 18, 2010 at 1:18 pm #

    I have a better solution. Quit flying. Vote with your pocketbook, give up a little (or a lot, depending on the sacrifice) bit of convenience, and let your government and airlines know that there are limits to what you will tolerate. Mine were passed by years ago, and I will not fly again until some drastic changes are made.

    If more people were willing to sacrifice the teeniest bit of comfort and convenience things might change. My expectations of the traveling cattle aren’t that high, though.

  17. Marion January 18, 2010 at 1:32 pm #

    I really hate the “let’s treat every man as a potential child molester” attitude. I have two young sons, and it makes me heartsick that they will someday be viewed as such.

  18. Shaylene Haswarey January 18, 2010 at 1:44 pm #

    This story is pathetic, and I hope he wins! First, let’s use some common sense! Why would a man, with his pregnant wife, touch a 12 year old who is in the same row as his wife?

    When Lenore mentioned British policies, I think these policies are also here in the US. My son went to a public school in Orange County, CA. If a parent wanted to volunteer for the school, they had to get their fingerprints and a background check done at the local police dept. What drove me even more crazy was the fact that the parent had to pay to get done! How weird! All schools need volunteers who serve the school for free. The volunteers have to go another extra mile to pay for a background check! What next?

  19. Ben January 18, 2010 at 1:51 pm #

    Knowing the British it was probably the steward freaking out, but that does make me wonder: just what was the kid thinking?

    And just what is supposed to happen if you’ve got a plane full of unknown males and a single kid? Are they going to delay the kid’s flight or put him/her in a row of their own for the entire trip? Neither sounds particularly appealing when you take into account how bored a minor can get when waiting for extended periods of time.

  20. Toadette January 18, 2010 at 1:55 pm #

    A friend of mine had his US visa cancelled, also banned from the US for 10 years and put in the sex offender list (i think) because he was chatting with a boy on a airplane. He is mexican and he was travelling from UK to Dallas. He sat next to a kid and was chatting with him unaware of the crazy paranoia of airlines. This was 3 years ago. This was the first time I ever heard of that crazy laws. He was handcuffed on arrival at the airport and detained 3 days in the US in some kind of legal limbo because the crime was committed on international waters or something and he is mexican. And nor the US or the british airlane wanted to take responsability. He was later deported to Mexico on the third day.

    I was also changed from my seat 6 months ago in a LAX -> Narita flight because 2 japanese girls were seated next to me. It was a JAL flight. Fortunately I had an empty seat next to me in my new location.

  21. KATIE January 18, 2010 at 2:00 pm #

    centerfolds in daily newspapers and a pervert behind every smile – ironic or just sad. I hope he wins the suit and gives the money to a charity that really does help kids.

  22. Nicola January 18, 2010 at 2:31 pm #


    I hope you win that suit. Sue the pants off of them for humiliation, pain and suffering, and being morons. Ah, guess you can’t sue them for being the last – but go all out on the first two and anything else you can and best of luck. This kind of idiocy needs to stop.

  23. Eileen January 18, 2010 at 6:49 pm #

    My father-in-law came with me and his grandson to the playground for the first time recently… He was trying to be helpful and give another toddler a boost up the steps to the slide. I had to hurry to warn him to back off just moments before that child’s mother rushed up to confront that strange man…

  24. Helen January 18, 2010 at 8:22 pm #

    Thank you for being outraged for men, too. What a disgusting rule!

  25. erica January 18, 2010 at 9:18 pm #

    I’m an education student. I needed to observe a classroom for an hour or so. When I contacted one of the local elementary schools I was told that I needed to write a letter of intent, it needed to be reviewed by the school board and then I needed to undergo a criminal background check. All for an hour of supervised observation. I contacted another school to see what their policy was and they simply said, “Sure, what day do you want to do it on?” And nothing more. Are there really that many child molesters that are going to act as student teachers/observers? We teach our children to live in such fear of everyone that they don’t have a chance to truly live.

  26. erica January 18, 2010 at 9:24 pm #

    Sam and Mae Mae –
    What if there are children who are molestors? Its starts off somewhere at some age, right? Perhaps airlines should have cubicles in place of seats. And just so there is no human contact, the stewards can just hand the peanuts through a little slide out tray. Each cell, I mean cubicle, will have it’s own bathroom. That way it will be certain that no one will see, hear or touch one another.

  27. Peter January 18, 2010 at 10:10 pm #

    British Airways seems to be officially admitting that (all/many/some) children seated next to unfamiliar males on British Airways have been molested during the flight, whereas no children seated next unfamiliar females have been molested in-flight. Shouldn’t this be making worldwide headlines? Why is the press ignoring this huge molestation problem on British Airways? Are they so dependent on BA advertising revenues that they are willing turn a blind eye to all of those children being molested on all of those flights? What about the children?

  28. Lafe January 18, 2010 at 11:13 pm #

    Pathetic! This is just as acceptable as a policy stating that blacks can not sit by whites, or women can not sit by children. It’s simply unacceptable in a civilized society, and it should be stopped immediately. Why do we consider broad discrimination against a minority or women to be a despicable thing, but then allow this policy to exist, discriminating against all men? Sickening!

  29. Madrocketscientist January 18, 2010 at 11:16 pm #

    Here’s outrage #3


  30. Corey January 18, 2010 at 11:41 pm #



    All adults in all restaurants in Glasgow are child molesters.

    Therefore, you must bring your 15-year-old daughter into the men’s room when she has to go.

    But then… of course… you’d be arrested yourself, right?

    I am trying to visualize the look on my 16-year-old daughter’s face last year if we’d been on vacation there and I’d told her she had to hold it or come to the men’s with me.

  31. NJMom January 18, 2010 at 11:43 pm #

    I have the sweetest picture of the AIRLINE PILOT, just after touching down in Tampa, holding our our 18 month old daughter. Needless to say, he didn’t know her. British Airways should put that in their pipe and smoke it. Oh right, they probably are smoking something because they developed this outrageous policy. I’m glad they are being sued.

  32. billy January 18, 2010 at 11:51 pm #

    I truly can’t believe this…!!!! How completely ridiculous…!!!! I am so outraged to even imagine this kind of predicament for a grown adult male…… A FULL GROWN ADULT MALE….. in fact, all grown adult males………being shamed and forced out of their seats because of a child?!!?!! You have got to be freakin kidding me…!!!!! Um, I don’t know maybe you should of— MOVED….THE…… KID!!!!!!!!!!!! DO NOT humiliate a MAN and force him out of his seat (next to his pregnant wife or not) to suit a companies absurd parranoia based needs for a child……And THEN, don’t EVER……., EVER let another single child on to your planes again if your so parranoid about them being touched…… so much that you have to distrust every MALE and make them feel like they are being pre-accused for molestation…?!?!?!? This is so insane to me I can barely type without cursing…… Oh, I am so glad I wasn’t there, and it wasn’t me…… They would still be surgically removing my foot from someones backside….. For anyone to start thinking that all males could be potentially harming, or touching children and not thinking them as protectors and leaders could seriously damage the minds of children and also the minds of a society already struggling with so much badness….. “CAUTION” is one thing, having a child sit up front to keep an eye on him as a flight attendant or not to have single children of a certain age on-board at all…..But spreading “FEAR” and “DISTRUST” for all men who sit next to children is another thing and this should NOT be tolerated……WHATSOEVER !!!!!! I hope he wins the lawsuit and I hope they have to go on record in front of the public and appologize for their ignorance.!! They should feel incredibly embarassed and very humiliated like they made that man feel…..

  33. NJMom January 18, 2010 at 11:52 pm #

    Ok, it’s official…after reading outrage #’s 3 and 4, I will not continue with my fantasy of visiting the British Isles (which is mostly a fantasy because we can’t afford to go). Gone are the visits to the little town in southern Scotland where my ancestors hail from (ending in a preposition–sorry). Gone are my visits to Cornwall to see if there really are palm trees there. Gone is my walking trip with the children along Hadrian’s Wall. Gone is the sailing trip in the Lake District to recreate Swallows and Amazons with the children. Phhhht. I’m done. I don’t like England anymore.

  34. Teacher Tom January 19, 2010 at 12:15 am #

    As a male preschool teacher, I think about this prejudice all the time. Before I started teaching, I sat down with one of my teachers (a man) and asked him what he thought about it. What could I do if I were unfairly accused of anything untoward?

    He shook his head and said, “You’ll have to move to Bimini.”

    I’ve now been teaching for 8 years, knowing that even one allegation could end my career. I would only work in a cooperative, where parents are in the room with me, getting to know me and coming to trust me. Our rule is simply that an adult can ever be alone with a child that is not one’s own. I hate it, but it protects me.

    I don’t even know if it’s statistically true that men are more likely to abuse, but the prejudice is pervasive. I even had one parent tell me that she’d never told her father that her daughter had a male teacher because he would “assume” that I’m a pervert.

  35. Edward H. January 19, 2010 at 12:20 am #

    Isn’t there some sort of Airline Passenger Association that can collectively voice our outrage to all airlines about these insane policies? Absolutely unbelievable!

  36. Dot Khan January 19, 2010 at 12:21 am #

    Would it be O.K. for Susan Smith to sit next to her children?

  37. sylvia_rachel January 19, 2010 at 12:22 am #


    I mean, even if the airline had had some reason to suppose that Mr Fischer might be a child molester (which they didn’t have, and don’t have, as far as we know), is it even a little bit likely that this situation would present a good opportunity? I mean, aren’t actual child molesters generally quite good at hiding their activities? And don’t they overwhelmingly target kids they know and have some kind of hold over? (The only known child molester I’ve ever met–obviously he wasn’t a known child molester at the time I met him–was the husband of a friend of my mother’s whose infant grandchild I babysat a couple of times when I was a teenager. They had four kids, all of whom he had sexually abused for many years, and the reason he got away with it for so long was that he told all of them their mother knew what he was doing and approved. Could he possibly have pulled that on some random kid he’d just met on a plane? Of course not.) How much of an idiot would you have to be to put the moves on a strange kid with your wife sitting right next to you? Have you ever even tried to have a conversation on a plane that the people across the aisle from you can’t hear?

    I’m not normally a fan of pain-and-suffering lawsuits, but in this case, as a means of publicizing this airline’s (and probably other airlines’) idiotic policies, bring it on!

  38. Jon Daley January 19, 2010 at 12:26 am #

    Of course, when we flew on Lufthansa to Switzerland, the airline refused to allow our boys (3 and 5 years) to sit with us – they had to sit (separately) a handful of rows in front of us. The person next to the 3 year old offered to switch their seat.

    The person next to the 5 year old wouldn’t, until he chattered to her for an hour. Too bad she wasn’t male, maybe we would have been able to sit together as a family.

  39. pentamom January 19, 2010 at 12:40 am #

    What none of you realize is that it’s common practice for people to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on international flights so that they can hopefully be placed next to a child, befriend the child, and then hunt the child down in whichever country he lives in to molest him. It’s the most practical way to find victims, now that kids are never let outside alone anymore.


  40. Jon Daley January 19, 2010 at 12:42 am #

    @pentamom: ha!

    (and a double ha at your username)

  41. Melissa January 19, 2010 at 1:00 am #

    Very sad. I hate the idea that we’re robbing our kids of the opportunity to get to know *strangers* and possibly make a new friend.

    When I was 16 I went with a church group (no parents…just a few adults with half a dozen teens) to Peru. On the flight home from Iquitos to Miami I sat next a man, OMG!!! A man I’d never met berfore…Double OMG!!!

    Turns out he was a doctor visiting Iquitos again after having been there on several doctor-mission trips. He told me all about the trips he made with other American doctors up and down the Amazon treating indviduals who didn’t have access to regular medical care. I believe he was a dentist. It was the most fascinating conversation and really made an impression on me, a sixteen year old teen from rural Indiana.

    The perv-hysteria is doing more to rob our children of the opportunity to make friends, meet new people and also learn to follow their instincts if something seems wrong. If, god forbid, there was a perv on a plane, what would he do? There’s people everywhere, and staff up and down the aisles constantly. Seems pretty safe to me, actually.

    Also, considering the recent turn of events on the Christmas flilght into Detroit, I feel fairly certain that passengers these days aren’t likely to tolerate any suspicious activity from another passenger, you know. I’m just sayin’.

  42. sylvia_rachel January 19, 2010 at 1:19 am #

    @Jon Daley — I once arrived with my three-year-old to check in for a flight from Toronto to Calgary (~4 hours) to find that we had been seated separately and because the flight was fully booked, it wasn’t possible for me to change our seats on the self-check-in thingy. I inquired again at the baggage drop-off desk and was told the only possibility was to ask at the gate and see if the person seated next to DD was wiling to switch, so I did that. “I really doubt that anyone else wants to spend four hours sitting next to my recently potty-trained three-year-old,” I said, and sure enough, sufficient seat-switching took place that we were able to sit together. Nobody seemed at all concerned that Something Bad might happen to DD as a result of sitting next to a stranger, though. These days (DD is 7 now) I might just let it go, reasoning that she’s now capable of getting her own snacks out of her backpack, reading to herself, and getting herself down the aisle to the washroom — but it sounds as though these days the airline might not let me.

    @pentamom — LOL 😀

  43. Davonia January 19, 2010 at 1:44 am #

    I worry about crazy stuff like this all the time because my husband is a student/ at home dad to our boys. We’ve had to explain some things at the boys’ school because he is their step dad and has a different last name. Luckily the school and teachers have been open minded. I worry about what will happen if we have a girl in the future…

  44. Jacqui January 19, 2010 at 3:53 am #

    Catherine Scott:

    Good for you, someone was discriminated against, and you reaped the advantage!

  45. Blake January 19, 2010 at 4:02 am #

    I seem to remember a man on another British Airways flight being asked to change seats away from his DAUGHTER because of the “Evil men must sit elsewhere” policy, and was only allowed to stay when he actually proved that it was his daughter. What happened to Britain? They used to have the most expansive empire in the world, along with some of the most respected rulers and prime ministers (Churchill and Thatcher come to mind) in the world. Now they’re turning into a bunch of pansies who spend time imagining that men present a greater threat to society than the Nazis and Soviets combined times two (did I just invoke Godwin’s Law here?)

    I must admit, though, that I rather like the idea of having a separate children’s area on planes. Everytime I fly, I usually have a little brat who makes a nightmare out of the first and last hours (if the flight’s less than two hours, I’ve got a crying brat the entire time) not very far away from me. Unfortunately, it’ll also eliminate room from the plane, making it even harder for me to get some rest (I’m 6’4″; try being comfortable in economy like that).

  46. Aaron January 19, 2010 at 4:41 am #


    That’s great. Just quit flying. I would like to agree with you. I really would. But I conduct research in Asia and I travel there (usually alone) frequently. So just to assure that I am not treated like a pedophile I should vote with my pocketbook by not flying. The other option: a ship. So 20 hours of inconvenience versus 30-40 DAYS aboard ship? Thanks, but no. Airlines will continue to get my money.

  47. Nancy Disgrace January 19, 2010 at 4:45 am #

    It comes as no surprise to me the British are actually slightly less paranoid than we are here in America. As far as this reverse sexism it’s an obvious double standard but no one seems to care on either side of the Atlantic .

  48. Diane January 19, 2010 at 4:58 am #

    Thirteen years ago my husband and I flew to England for our honeymoon. We took a red eye flight and about four hours into it I got very tired and fell asleep taking up both my husband’s and my seat. He was in the restroom at the time and instead of waking me up he went to sit in an empty seat next to a 13 year old girl traveling alone. They struck up a friendly conversation. When the flight attendant asked if the girl was ready to see the inside of the cockpit my husband asked if he could go along, too. The attendant was fine with that, so my husband got to accompany an underage girl he didn’t know into a plane’s cockpit while it was in flight over the Atlantic Ocean! After we landed, the girl thanked him for keeping her company on the long flight. It’s sad how quickly times have changed for the worse and more suspicious.

  49. Susan January 19, 2010 at 5:11 am #

    “Statistically, children are far more likely to be abused by a member of their family. Does that mean that British Airways are going to ban children sitting next to their own parents?”

    I would love for the airlines to apply this rule! I could finally just relax and read on a flight like I used to.

  50. Peter January 19, 2010 at 6:00 am #

    I am that worst of worsts — a male in his 30s who really likes small children. My twin sons are now five, and since I have the maturity of a three-year-old, they had pretty much outgrown me. So I started to “teach” Religious Education to two- and three-year-olds at our Unitarian Universalist church. It was mainly a selfish act — I just like to play with little kids. They’re fun.

    I give the kids hugs and roll around on the floor with them, and in the UK I’d be hauled off to jail (or “gaol”, as I understand they call it there). I do understand parental wariness, but as usual, it’s a matter of degree. I read one item recently about a British mother who was at her son’s grade school to pick him up. Another kid hit her son, and she told him not to do that — politely. An administrator called the cops (“bobbies”?) and she was arrested.

    Our attitudes toward children’s safety are similar to our attitudes about safety from terrorism. Yes, there are real issues. Yes, there are real dangers. But we are scaring ourselves to death — or, more accurately, we’re scaring ourselves out of living.

  51. Peter January 19, 2010 at 6:02 am #

    As a P.S., I also read an item a few months ago about an airline with a similar rule. When an adult man sitting next to a young girl was told he’d have to change seats, the girl looked up at the flight attendant and said, “But he’s my daddy!”

  52. idahodogs January 19, 2010 at 6:09 am #

    I quit flying a couple years ago because the TSA is so ridiculous. Now instead of spending a whole day traveling to fly 2 hours, I spend a day-and-a-half in the car with my husband, stopping whenever we want, sightseeing the whole way and basicly having a good time. And if I take my shoes off, its to stick my feet out the window 🙂 For peace of mind alone I will happily spend an extra day en route

  53. Stephen January 19, 2010 at 6:18 am #

    The only solution I can come up with is for British Airways to verify that each flight has an adequate ratio of heterosexual and homosexual adult passengers. Simply place all female minors next to gay men or straight women, and place all male minors next to lesbians or straight men.

  54. Liz January 19, 2010 at 8:17 am #

    I’m trying to remember where, but I *have* read about at least one child being abused on a plane, so it’s not completely off the wall. And I might not wonder at this policy for red-eye flights, but to institute this policy across the board…

  55. Sara January 19, 2010 at 8:49 am #

    Unfortunately, Stephen, most pedophiles self-identify as straight men, so that wouldnt work.

  56. Lisa January 19, 2010 at 9:13 am #

    I completely agree. However, I did see a *horrible* situation on a plane once. Mom and 3 yo had the middle and window seat of one row, and dad had the aisle seat one row in front of them. When the flight attendant realized that the family had been split up, she asked the man in the aisle seat next to the woman and child to switch aisle seats with the dad.

    The man, who frankly did look a little perv-y, flat-out refused.

    There was no reasoning with him. The flight attendant explained he would still have an aisle seat–one row closer to the front of the plane at that. She explained it would be a nice thing to do, since it would allow the family to sit together for a long trans-continental flight. She even offered him a free drink. But there was no convincing this man. And he refused to so much as even state a reason *why* the move would be a problem.

    Even creepier, once the plane took off, he spent the entire time trying to chat up the boy and his mom. Gross.

    I realize this is not a common situation, but I would be all for a rule that would make it mandatory for an adult man or woman to switch seats to keep kids with their parents–so long as they get the same type of seat (aisle, window, etc.), in at least as good a part of the plane, and so long as it didn’t separate them from their friends and family.

  57. BMS January 19, 2010 at 9:44 am #

    I haven’t flown home to Chicago in about 8 years. We started taking the Amtrak and never looked back. 24 hours on a train is much less trouble than all the crap you have to go through to get on an airplane these days.

  58. Mae Mae January 19, 2010 at 11:08 am #

    Hey, Lisa, could you let us know what a guy who’s a “little perv-y” looks like? Seriously, I’d like to know for future reference.

  59. Lisa January 19, 2010 at 11:23 am #

    @Mae Mae: That’s a good question, in part because it’s understanding what sets off our creepy-radar helps us transmit that to our children.

    In this case, it was mainly the way the guy kept leering at the 3 yo and the young, sexy mother from the moment he sat down–even when the flight attendant was talking to him, very rationally, about moving to a comparable seat to allow the family to sit together.

    When you can’t take your eyes of a young boy and his mama’s rack when another adult is trying to have a conversation with you, something is wrong.

    I guess that got confirmed when this lecherous guy didn’t stop staring at and chatting up the boy and mom for the entire flight, wouldn’t look any of the flight attendants in the eye, and got exasperated any time dad turned around to talk to mom and child.

    I should add that I have flown several times each year for about 20 years and have never seen anyone else who even remotely raised my hackles–even when they were men sitting next to kids that weren’t theirs.

    This was an exceptional situation, but it did make me think that there should be some policy about *allowing* families to sit together, especially when it’s not dramatically inconveniencing other passengers.

    And while I think it’s important to not make kids afraid of every stranger (or engage in these silly policies that British Air is doing), I think it’s also important to help kids identify when they get a creepy vibe from someone and that it’s OK to stay away. When I was growing up in the 70s and 80s, we called it street-savvy.

  60. Bob Davis January 19, 2010 at 1:53 pm #

    About the only good thing I saw in this whole discussion was the part about some folks getting so fed up with airline travel that they switched to Amtrak (we pro-rail partisan can use all the help we can get to encourage rail travel). Unfortunately, some of us do have to or want to visit places on the other side of the ocean, and the old days of the Queen Mary steaming between New York and Southhampton are as gone as the Wabash Cannonball.

  61. helenquine January 19, 2010 at 8:53 pm #

    I see more and more of this women are inherently good and men can’t really be trusted attitude. The British Airways thing has bothered me for years and it’s not just them – several airlines follow the same sexist, harmful rule.

    While looking for cool things for my kids in London I found the Natural History Museum’s Dino Snores sleep over. Great looking program. Sadly they also take the view that though women can do no wrong, men can’t be trusted with girls. http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit-us/whats-on/nights-museum-events/dino-snores/dino-snores-faqs/index.html – groups of girls or mixed groups must be accompanied by a female adult, groups of boys can have a male or female adult.

    Do these people realize that girls have dads too? Just what do they think is going to happen to girls that sleep in an open hall in somewhat closer proximity to men that won’t happen to boys sleeping in somewhat closer proximity to women? It makes me really angry to think my husband would not be able to take his two daughters to something like this.

  62. Sky January 19, 2010 at 8:57 pm #

    “I don’t even know if it’s statistically true that men are more likely to abuse”

    Teacher Tom, it is definitely statistically true. In studies of molestation cases in schools, the percentage of offenders who are male range anywhere from 80 to 96%, depending on the study you are looking at. Considering that female teachers outnumber male teachers 12 to 1, this of course means that male teachers are **much more** statistically likely to abuse children than female teachers. Men are only 8% of the teaching population, but account for at least 80% of the cases of child molestation. This is why the prejudice arises, and why many parents feel automatically safer with a female teacher, even if the percentage of male teachers molesting children is actually small. Unfortunately, this means more and more men are driven out of the profession, leaving fewer male role models for children, and further distorting the picture. If your child has a male teacher, the odds are 1 in 100 s/he’ll be molested. But if your child has a female teacher, the odds are only 1 in 10,000.

  63. AirborneVet January 19, 2010 at 10:38 pm #

    You know, it just occured to me that maybe the UK has been instituting these laws because of the large Muslim population in the country. These laws seem very similar to Shari’a law. The basis for women and girls covering up, keeping the sexes separated, etc. is supposedly because men can not control themselves.

  64. helenquine January 20, 2010 at 12:38 am #

    AirborneVet – neither BA nor the Natural History Museum are following laws. They have instituted their own policies – they are not legal requirements.

    There’s a possibility the policies would run foul of the equality and discrimination laws that exist in the UK and Europe – but someone would have to sue (in a UK court – Mirko Fischer is suing in the States) to find out.

  65. Dan January 20, 2010 at 12:45 am #

    I haven’t read all the responses to this outrageous policy, but has anyone made reference to the popular stereotype that the 12 year old boy was probably in more danger (or delight) from the male steward than from the guy with his pregnant wife?

    If the airline is going to bend over backwards (or forwards) to cater to stereotypes; that is a far more prevalent one.

    Shame on you, BA. I do hope that this is an expensive stupid decision for you to have made.

  66. GORN61 January 20, 2010 at 6:28 am #

    Sounds a great policy to me – as a man who often travels alone, I’d love to be prevented from sitting next to grizzling rugrats.

  67. GORN61 January 20, 2010 at 6:33 am #

    > Another kid hit her son, and she told him not to do that — politely. An administrator called the cops (“bobbies”?) and she was arrested. <
    Bullsh1t. Can you provide a reference?

  68. Ralphinjersey January 20, 2010 at 10:25 am #

    Are these the same British who let the shoe bomber fly? Just curious.

  69. helenquine January 20, 2010 at 2:42 pm #

    Ralphinjersey, said: “Are these the same British who let the shoe bomber fly? Just curious.”

    No. This is British Airways. The shoe bomber flew on American Airlines from Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris.

  70. kalle P January 20, 2010 at 6:29 pm #

    I t is not correct, the rule at bruitish airways is that unacompanied minors, that are traveling by themself, has to sit next to another child or a woman.
    the headlines in the newspapers would be even bigger if something happend to a kid that was traveling by themselve.
    it is a terrible world that makes an airline have this kind of rules but it is to protect not to upset people..

  71. Katie January 20, 2010 at 11:03 pm #

    Is there such a thing as being too careful??? Is there time to treat each passenger on a case by case basis? I would not want my sons sitting next to strange man on a plane and I am happy that there are rules to protect them.

  72. helenquine January 21, 2010 at 12:48 am #

    Of course there is such a thing as being “too careful”. All these measures have costs.

    In this particular case the policy meant a pregnant woman had to sit in a less comfortable seat – something that will increase her stress and, I suppose it could be argued, could potentially have a small but harmful impact on the fetus. In a more general sense the assumption that a person is inherently less trustworthy based only on their sex is the sort discriminatory prejudice that has harmed many lives – stifling talent and pushing people into less suitable roles all to fit in to a social ideal. Men, women and children lose out when we push men out of the domestic sphere, just as we all lose out when women are pushed out of the economic sphere.

    And the benefit? Possibly a statistically tiny reduction in risk for one thing – (sexual?) abuse from a random stranger on a plane with others watching. I’m not sure how many documented cases there are of this happening. It certainly isn’t something you hear about much (and I’m pretty certain that’s not because it’s so common papers wouldn’t bother with it). And along with that possible risk reduction there may be an increase in other risks – I’m sure there are plenty of vices we can attribute to women more than men – maybe they’ll have greater access to prescribed anti-depressants if they sit next to women and be more likely to OD.

  73. GORN61 January 21, 2010 at 3:28 am #

    > I would not want my sons sitting next to strange man on a plane <
    Then don't put them on an aeroplane on their own in the first place, you paranoid imbecile.

  74. Mark Uhde January 21, 2010 at 6:16 am #

    I emailed BA to inform them that next time I go to visit my grandma in Northern Ireland I will be making sure NOT to fly British Airways. I’d encourage the rest of you to do the same (as appropriate for your situation). Money speaks.

  75. Amy January 21, 2010 at 7:11 am #

    Did you know the same thing happen to the mayor of London, Boris Jonson?


    He was on a BA flight next to some children and was asked to move because they “have very strict rules.” He had to work to convince the stewardess that they were his OWN CHILDREN.

    He says, “To all those who worry about the paedophile plague, I would say that they not only have a very imperfect understanding of probability; but also that they fail to understand the terrible damage that is done by this system of presuming guilt in the entire male population just because of the tendencies of a tiny minority.”

  76. LindaLou January 21, 2010 at 4:46 pm #

    “If your child has a male teacher, the odds are 1 in 100 s/he’ll be molested.”

    I’m sorry, but I don’t see how that could possibly be true. Calling B.S.

  77. animallover7100 January 22, 2010 at 1:53 am #

    “If your child has a male teacher, the odds are 1 in 100 s/he’ll be molested.”

    iv e had male teachers before they were just really nice. one really annoyed me though to many stupid jokes.

  78. GORN61 January 22, 2010 at 2:57 am #

    “If your child has a male teacher, the odds are 1 in 100 s/he’ll be molested.”

    But probably by a relative, rather than the teacher.

  79. elise January 22, 2010 at 4:13 am #

    I am confused…so by making this guy switch seats was he no longer able to sit next to his pregnant wife in a seat that he paid for??? I’m sure when he booked the tickets he booked 2 seats together.

  80. helenquine January 22, 2010 at 4:21 am #

    Elise, he was asked to switch seats with his pregnant wife. So she would be in the middle seat next to the kid and he was in the window seat. Though I believe other men have been asked to move to different rows.

  81. GORN61 January 22, 2010 at 5:51 am #

    Perhaps we should have separate children’s cabins. Keeps everyone happy.

  82. GORN61 January 22, 2010 at 5:54 am #

    > The shoe bomber flew on American Airlines from Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris. <
    Yay! Although to many septics it's all just "Foreign" anyway.

  83. Sarah January 23, 2010 at 3:42 am #

    Couple of days late, but I wanted to add a memory of mine…

    My 4 year old brother and I (7, I think) flew from Houston to Miami by ourselves for the first time to visit grandparents. It was a really crowded flight, and while my little brother was excited, I was sad. Luckily, there was a really nice man who was sitting in our 3 seat row that played with us for most of the way. I imagine he’d be scared to talk to us now, and I’d have probably cried the entire flight 🙁

  84. Jack January 23, 2010 at 8:11 am #

    Congratulations to Mr. Fischer!

    The only cases of pedophilia of which I have personal knowledge were: My ex-wife who was caught fondling an infant male child; and a sixteen year old girl in the neighborhood who was caught fondling a ten year old boy.

    Too bad that he did not file his case in the United States. Perhaps he will consider doing that also. The USA has a very strong statute against gender discrimination. British Airways is clearly guilty of the most blatant and sadistic case of gender discrimination possible.

    If this ever happens to me, I will do everything possible to destroy the airlines forever. Hopefully others flying British Airways into or out of the United States will do the same.

  85. ksd January 23, 2010 at 10:27 pm #

    This is a rude response for a Socratic discussion….
    “Then don’t put them on an aeroplane on their own in the first place, you paranoid imbecile.”

    everyone has a right to express their comments. Please take the high road people.

  86. GORN61 January 24, 2010 at 2:59 am #

    > This is a rude response for a Socratic discussion…. <
    Oh, you poor baby. Anyother mollycoddled Yank, wanting to nanny society into middle-class paranoia, while your kids turn into obese, hamburger-filled mental vegetables?

  87. GORN61 January 24, 2010 at 3:01 am #

    So, Jack, just why is it you are so vocal in demanding the right as a man to sit next to solo-travelling children? Is it boys or girls you want to sit next to?

  88. Helen January 24, 2010 at 4:12 am #

    GORN61 – ksd’s response indicated nothing about her nationality, class or children’s eating habits. What she did indicate is that she’s interested in a conversation based on an exchange of ideas around the blog post rather than name calling.

    Personally I’m with her.

  89. GORN61 January 25, 2010 at 3:09 pm #


    My apologies for some of the posts that have been made in my name here. I had a young person visiting me who clearly thought it was amusing to post what he clearly thought was anonymous abuse. As I don’t normally have a teenager in the house, the need to lock up my PC hadn’t occurred to me.

    I’ve had a word with my nephew, and I think he realises he’s done wrong, but it is rather hard to tell.

  90. Jennie January 26, 2010 at 9:48 am #

    This sort of thing really concerns me. My husband and I ended up in a rather awkward situation when we were travelling with my young son. We were to be seated next to a 12yo boy and my really sweet and inoffenseive husband was asked to sit away from the boy, due to politically correct concerns. As I was to be brest feeding my son during takeoff and landing I protested. I mean really, I ask you what is worse. Sitting my skinny and gentlemanlike husband by the 12yo, or squishing him in next to my much larger self with a breast hanging out to feed the baby. The young boy sat at the window and I sat on the isle, and we all chatted. The young lad was curteous enough to ‘overt his eyes’ when I was feeding (and lets face it, the view out the window during takeoff and landing is much better anyway. My husband was not asked to move. I was relieved.

  91. Shannon January 27, 2010 at 12:17 am #

    Oh, I don’t know that GORN’s nephew’s comments were so outrageous. Of course ksd has the right to post anything she wants, but she should realize that in doing so in a public forum, she might be mocked for the kind of knee-jerk “OMG what about the children” silliness she expressed here, apparently after failing to read all of the good reasons provided in this comment thread for why sitting your kids next to a man on a flight (the vast majority of men aren’t pedophiles, most victims of abuse are victims of family members, etc.) isn’t a risk that should even be on the radar. She persists in her OMGness despite evidence, and the appropriate response to someone who’s been presented with evidence and refuses to believe it is, in fact, mockery. That’s the only way things will change in society broadly: when every Mommy who makes some ridiculous remark about how the pedophiles are constantly coming for her precious babies receives nothing but an eye-roll and a snide comment in response.

  92. camper February 7, 2010 at 10:08 pm #

    That’s a nice blog

  93. Mary March 4, 2010 at 4:08 am #

    Unfortunately men have to face this kind of discrimination in more places than on an airline. My husband works in Early Intervention and he gets the evil eye and is constantly asked why he is in the school building (despite his badge that says he works there & the extensive background checks he had to pass before being employed) on a regular basis. Meanwhile, a woman can walk around with no ID and never asked to show any proof that she has the right to be there. I’ve known male Youth Services Librarians who have been questioned about their choice of profession, I guess people assuming that only a pedophiles would be male and want to work with kids. I wonder how we got to a point where we assume every man has bad intentions when it comes to our kids.

  94. car review September 9, 2010 at 5:39 pm #

    The ONLY thing this article makes me feel good about is the fact that it didn’t happen in America. It’s only a matter of time, however.

  95. Laparoscopic Surgery : October 26, 2010 at 4:43 pm #

    british airways is the best airline that i have been into, great crew and great service-`:

  96. Bernard August 18, 2012 at 9:21 am #

    That’s the same racist behavior as Montgomery Bus showed in the 1950’s when Black people might have been asked to move if another White people sat beside of them. If I might ever been asked to move my ass, I will not do that and I will reply with the words “I am not Rose Parks, but I will not move as well.” and if the plane stays grounded for hours it is not my fault.


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