An outspoken traveller's online rant about sharing a trans-Tasman flight with a "screaming" baby has opened up a discussion about babies on planes that has Kiwis taking sides.

Lesley Hamilton, former press secretary to Sir John Key, posted a complaint to Air New Zealand on Twitter, telling the airline it should offer "seat select" to let flyers know whether they would be seated next to a "screaming baby" or only put babies in seats after row 20.

Hamilton pointed out that she did take the time to entertain the crying baby during the flight but doubled down on her initial comments by comparing babies to "support hamsters" and labelling them "annoying extras".

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Many readers who offered their opinions on the story supported Hamilton's idea of a separate space for babies on planes.

"She is of course right," wrote one person. "Being 'a parent' it seems gives you extra rights to impose your kids on those not even related or friends of you. It wouldn't go astray to have a requirement that when travelling on all aircraft that you are assigned to a section of the aircraft if you have children under a given age, who are unlikely to be able to meet the social etiquette of flight for extended periods of time."

Others pined for the days when air travel was a more exclusive club.

"Unfortunately in the world we live in, any old dog can fly," one man opined.

"Don't expect the 'good old days' of immaculate etiquette. My last experience was a toddler screaming the entire way from London to Dubai."

One correspondent cited Air Asia's quiet zone, a concept developed by the Malaysian airline that sees kids under 10 banned from certain sections of the plane.

Another flyer, who regularly travels across the Tasman in his role as a fly-in, fly-out worker, told the Herald that being seated next to babies "makes his blood boil".

"Surely with all the computer technology that airlines have available to them, they could sort out seating arrangements. McDonald's has a kiddy area, why can't airlines?"


Many, however, believed that individuals could take action to remedy the problem themselves.

Some commenters suggested that noise-cancelling headphones should be a standard part of any traveller's kit, while others shared stories of passengers who stepped up to help soothe upset children.

"On a flight I was on recently a grandfatherly type lifted a crying child from its mother and walked up and down the aisle singing gently," one person wrote.

"The baby stopped crying immediately and gazed at him enthralled, then fell asleep. Not all heroes wear capes."

Air New Zealand has been contacted for comment.