The real reason Robbie Williams doesn’t sit with his kids on planes

Robbie Williams demonstrates the art of directing minors to the rear of the aircraft. Photo: Getty

Robbie Williams demonstrates the art of directing minors to the rear of the aircraft. Photo: Getty

Earlier this month, British pop star Robbie Williams’ wife Ayda Field revealed a travel hack they use when flying with their four kids, and it is this: The adults fly first class while the children are booked into economy. Breathtakingly simple and effective.

This comes as the former Take That singer completes the Australian leg of his world tour, while also promoting the new, unimaginatively titled Netflix documentary, Robbie Williams. In this instance, the star travelled sans famille, leaving them at home in London. 

At face value, their rationale for seating the kids separately seems plausible.

“There’s no interest in raising brats,” explained Field, an actor who starred in US TV series Days of our Lives, speaking to The Sunday Times.

“My kids will know that [economy] is where they will sit in a plane until they can pay to put themselves in a different part of the plane.”

Cue worldwide applause at the couple’s wholesome determination to prevent their kids from losing touch with the real world. 

But could we please take a moment, once the frenzied clapping subsides, to recognise this for what it actually is – a convenient excuse? 

Robbie Williams and Ayda Field

Robbie Williams and wife Ayda Field.

As any parent will tell you, kids are hard work. Even with all the toys, video games, friends, play parks and Burger Rings that are available on terra firma, they’re tricky little things.

Trap them in a confined space for any length of time – which clearly includes all existing modes of transport – and the situation can only get more difficult. 

That’s why it wasn’t hugely shocking when a recent survey by UK supermarket Asda found that 63 per cent of parents admit they get anxious at the prospect of air travel with their kids. What really drove the point home was that 18 per cent of those surveyed went a step further, saying they’d rather deal with the anxiety that comes with starting a new job, than fly with their child.

We’re talking nerves, uncertainty, lack of social standing, financial instability – all preferable to cruising at 12,000 metres with your beloved offspring.

Field and Williams – who married in 2010 – have four of these small humans to wrangle, from their 11-year-old first born to the youngest, who is currently three.

The grown-ups are easily outnumbered, and no one in their right mind would hold it against them if they were honest about just how stressful, annoying, unpredictable and ruinously expensive travelling with children can be. That is the way all parents feel, regardless of their celebrity status or tax bracket. 

Instead, Field insists their decision to sit in separate cabins is for the good of the children. In everyday life, meanwhile, they stay grounded in a 47-room mansion that they reportedly bought for £17.5 million ($33 million). 

Of course, this isn’t solely about the in-flight behaviour of children. Another survey carried out by London’s Gatwick Airport found that the biggest cause of stress for travelling families is the reaction of other passengers.

Some 38 per cent had been on the receiving end of disapproving looks from people sitting nearby. These are adults who, in normal life, may well be polite, patient, empathetic and understanding. Thanks to the deterioration of manners that takes place after several hours breathing recirculated air, all the usual social niceties fall by the wayside.

Narcissist or not, no one enjoys being watched while they parent, whether that’s an audience of visiting in-laws or 500 passengers on an A380. 

In that sense, parenting is the ultimate leveller. We all find it impossible, and we all feel judged for how we tackle it. 

Unless, that is, we make our kids sit in a separate cabin. Because that’s not parenting. 

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