Just as those who bring their horse onto an airplane must show that the animal is equipped with a poop diaper, and can stand quietly between the passenger’s legs and a bulkhead, babies should be certified to be “plane ready” as well.
A doctor’s note, combined with a medication receipt, would get one a stamp on one’s boarding pass, indicating that one’s baby is equipped. The agent at the boarding gate would scrutinize the baby:
Does he or she look calm, quiet, and glassy eyed? — you can pass.
If not, of if you don’t have the required paperwork, you could have the option of having your baby sedated right then: a quick aerosol puff, after you have signed a waiver.
If the baby awakes on the plane, and starts to make a fuss, a cabin attendant could give you a choice: pay a hefty thousand dollar fine, or sign a waiver and hold the baby up for a puff of sedative.
Some parents might even want the sedative for themselves. It could be offered for a fee — an adult dose. Some might need that to get through a five hour coach class flight, in which they are shoulder to shoulder with someone to the left and the right, can’t stretch their legs because the overhead bins were all full and so they had to stuff their computer bag in front of their feet. Better to just go under and wake up when it is over.
In fact, maybe all passengers should be sedated. Just like interstellar voyagers going into cryogenic sleep for thirty years while they travel to a nearby star, air travelers could be packed into narrow bunks like in a submarine and sedated. The airlines could get a-lot more people on the planes that way. They could load people with robotic arms, filling every available space.
Instead of waiting for your flight, which is usually delayed — waiting in a crowded boarding area where there is never anywhere to recline, and you are squished in with a crowd of other people — some of whom obviously have the flu — as densely as on an airplane, you could go to a boarding prep area and be immediately sedated, and loaded onto a pallet. Planes could all be like cargo planes. No in-flight service would be needed. And no baby would ever scream the entire way, making your flight even more insufferable than it already is.
Even better, go into sedation at the start of your journey. Uber could have a sedation service, which delivers you via a specially equipped van that can hold a number of pre-sedated travelers. At curbside, passengers could be scanned and loaded just like luggage, and shuttled to their plane on conveyors, the way that luggage is. Babies too.
If you get to a destination and your baby is missing, there is no need to worry: a baby who arrives without a parent will not be revived: the baby would be kept sedated, and conveyed to a flight that will get the baby to its final destination, perhaps even deliver the sedated baby to your hotel.
These ideas would surely improve on air travel the way it currently is. We’d miss out on that oh-so-wonderful airport experience — the hugely long walks to gates (I have had to do that with an injured ankle), waiting for trams, and waiting, and waiting, and waiting for one’s plane at a boarding area that has mostly fast food stalls, bars, and junk food kiosks. Or the frantic mile long run from one end of an airport to another, dragging one’s bag, to catch a connection, since one would be shuttled, sedated, to one’s connection just as one’s luggage is. And it would be so nice to not have to hear the continual announcements on the PA.
And passengers would get what they seem to want most: the cheapest possible flight, no matter how miserable it is, except that sedation would remove the misery!