Ridiculous or not? Let’s ban babies in first class once and for all

Should an airline’s first class section be adults-only? Ask passengers like James Armstrong, and you’ll hear a compelling reason for keeping babies in the back — if not off the plane entirely.

“I was on a flight from Bangkok to Beijing,” he remembers. “Royal Thai Airways.”

Just to set the stage, this is what Thai’s first class section looks like. Nice, huh?

Anyway, there was this German couple with two young children seated a few rows away. “One of the children was running about, loud and disruptive.”

And sick.

With junior making the rounds, touching the seats, sneezing and sniffling all over the place, Armstrong became infected.

“Nothing like spending two days in Beijing in bed with the flu,” he says.

Babies on planes is a hot topic again, thanks to Octomom’s little incident in business class last weekend and Malaysia Airlines banning young passengers on some its larger jets. Originally, Malaysia said its actions were in response to complains from other premium passengers. It later changed its tune, saying it didn’t have the proper facilities to accommodate infants.

Either way, its move got passengers talking.

“I’m quite serious when I say that I’d rather be on a flight with smokers than with babies,” says reader Dick Carlson. “I’d love to see an airline that offered adult-only flights – maybe late evening or redeye. While I understand that the little squirts have to travel somehow, having one squawk and scream five inches from my ear isn’t anything I want to endure for six hours.”

By way of full disclosure, I used to think babies on planes were a nuisance, no matter where they sat. And I had to laugh when Ryanair announced it would begin offering child-free flights earlier this year.

Look at the date on the press release, in case you’re wondering if they’re serious.

But there’s a kernel of truth to its joke.

“When it comes to children we all love our own but would clearly prefer to avoid other people’s little monsters when traveling,” Ryanair’s Stephen McNamara is quoted as saying. And those words certainly ring true for a lot of passengers, even if Ryanair didn’t really mean it.

I hear the same sentiments from among younger airline passengers and articulated by childless thirtysomething airline commentators. They don’t want to sit next to anyone else’s little monsters, let alone their screaming little monsters.

The “ban babies” from first class — and indeed, sometimes from the plane altogether — proponents’ argument goes something like this. (I’m quoting without attribution, because I’ve received several email that are virtually identical.)

I pay a premium to sit in first or business class and I don’t want my to be disturbed by a crying, screaming or misbehaving child.

While I understand the parent pays as much as I do, I don’t disturb them by screaming or crying or misbehaving and I should not have to deal with their child if they are screaming or crying or carrying on.

Some children are absolute angels and some act like they are the spawn of Satan. While I understand a child’s or baby’s reaction to the change in environment is unpredictable that doesn’t mean anyone should be subjected to it either. A person’s choice to have children and fly with said children does not take precedence over or trump my choice to not have children.

Then there are also a great many parents today that think the world should have to deal with it because “s/he is a child”, when the reality is if you choose to have children you should not inflict them on others, especially strangers.

As clichéd as it sounds, your perspective changes when you have monsters of your own. Notice, I didn’t put “monsters” in quotes. I’ve endured too many flights, and one or two in first class, where my kids didn’t behave well.

So I actually find myself sympathizing with those who would want to keep children, and particularly babies, out of the very best seats. Infants probably don’t belong up front any more than they do in a five-star restaurant. But keeping kids off the plane, period? Not practical.

If young passengers were barred from flying, then how, pray tell, would they travel? By boat? Or spending four days strapped into a baby seat of a car?

“I find crying babies on a plane just as annoying as the next person, whether they’re in first class or not,” says Linda Snow. “But ever since air travel was invented, the rule has been, ‘You get what you pay for.’ If people can pay for first class and want to travel with their babies, they get to.”

Malaysia Airlines’ decision to keep babies out of its first class section on certain flights is as courageous as it is controversial. It acknowledges the fact that its premium cabin is an experience meant primarily for adult passengers.

There will no doubt still be angry parents who think their little brats deserve to sit in first class. Fortunately for them, they have a choice of airlines.

And in the end, the market will decide whether baby-free premium cabins will fly or not.

(Photo: Kind Sir/Flickr Creative Commons)

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirportParkingReservations.com

With nearly 20 years in the industry, over 128 airport covered in the U.S. and Canada, and over 1,000 Hotel and Parking Partners-we provide travelers the best options on how to get to the airport when flying. Whether you want to; drive yourself and park near an Airport (Airport Parking), stay the night before your flight at an airport hotel and leave your car (Hotel and Parking Package), or take a shared Shuttle/Private Car/Limo to the Airport- we got you covered. The best deals can be found online, and booking a reservation has never been easier. You can explore all of our options by visiting us at AirportParkingReservations.com, ParkSleepFly.com, AirportParking.com, and ShuttleFinder.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Cavalry Travel Insurance

Cavalry takes the worry of out travel by providing 24/7 access to medical and security professionals combined with the best medical evacuation and security extraction services. Cavalry gets you home safely when you need it most. Learn more at Cavalrytravelinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at Sodexoinsights.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by G1G.com

Since its inception over three decades ago, G1G has continued to revolutionize the travel insurance industry by being the only aggregator to operate a customer portal, placing all of the user's primary needs in one place. We have continued to innovate and disrupt the market by reimagining the way travel insurance can be delivered to the end user in ways no competition can. Simply put, no one knows the market as well as its founders and no one else shares G1G values and mission.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

Send this to a friend