Yes they can be rude but if you've been working, say, Sydney to Brisbane and back 6-7 times a day it's bound to get a bit old at some stage. I'm afraid it's a consequence of cheap air travel. Pack as many people in as possible with minimal amenities (you don't need a meal on a 1 hour flight anyway IMO) and passengers with huge expectations for their budget $49 fare and sparks will fly. I know you are a seasoned traveller Butt so I know you know the deal but there are a lot of people out there who expect to be treated like royalty on a basic budget airline and if they don't get the silver service they think they are entitled to they cause aggro.

As for kids, when mine were preschoolers we simply didn't fly because it was too much hassle for everyone concerned. On the few occasions I absolutely HAD to be somewhere for an important reason I went solo and left the kids home with their father. I know I was lucky to be able to do that but even so, the kids didn't need to be there with me anyway.