Should Children Be Banned From the Premium Class Cabin?
S creaming children ruined the experience of Patrick Smith being a passenger seated in the business class cabin — an experience for which he splurged for the full airfare — from Bangkok to New York, leading him to ask whether or not children should be banned from the premium class cabin.
That actually happened on one airline, Patrick — but it was limited in scope; and it did not last long.
After already having banned babies from the first class cabin on its Boeing 747-400 aircraft, an announcement from Malaysia Airlines in June of 2011 revealed that the ban would also be imposed upon delivery of its first Airbus A380 aircraft in June of 2012 — but that controversial decision had been rescinded only a month after the announcement.
Originally thought to affect all babies, the ban was then thought to only affect those “lap children” who did not have their own seat.
Back in 2010, passengers were pushing for airline flights for adults only — no children allowed. “In July, Qantas settled a lawsuit from a woman who claimed that she suffered hearing loss after sitting next to a screaming 3-year-old boy on a 2009 flight from New York to Australia”, according to this article written on November 12, 2010 by Douglas Quenqua of The New York Times. The terms of that settlement were not disclosed. “In January, AirTran removed an entire family from a flight before takeoff from Fort Myers, Fla., because their 3-year-old girl was hitting the parents, making noise and refusing to take her seat. And in March, a 42-year-old woman allegedly grabbed a boy (3 years old, again) for kicking her chair during a Southwest flight to Las Vegas.”
Somehow, though, the adults-only flight and the banishment of children from the premium class cabin never really caught on. Why were those policies not popular?
I have a theory; and no, it is not an original theory: it is not the children who are at fault. Often, it is the parents who are responsible for teaching their children how to behave properly in public. In many cases, it can be done successfully…
…but you cannot ban the parents from a cabin of an airplane or from the airplane itself, leaving the children alone. Besides — why punish the child? He or she needs for someone to care for him or her; to encourage learning; to show the child how to get the most out of life — especially when it comes to travel.
It really irritates me when a child persists on being mischievous — kicking the back of my seat, for example — and the parent either does nothing about it; or repeats idle threats. “You better stop by the time I count to three…one…two…I said stop! I am going to count again…” There is absolutely no excuse for that. The child is not exactly excited that the parent cannot seem to count all the way to three. I personally would be embarrassed if I were the child.
“Hey — at least my mom can count all the way to three. What can your mom do?!?”
I do not expect children to be prim and proper at all times. They are children. They want to play. They need interaction. They are curious about new things, new people, new experiences. In fact, I encourage the idea of children traveling. To me, travel is the best learning experience, with the world as the best classroom to be found.
As a moderator on FlyerTalk for years, I have seen members belittle fellow members who are younger than 18 years old simply because of their age. That behavior is just plain wrong, in my opinion. I personally think it is wonderful when a teenager logs in to FlyerTalk and wants to find out all about different types of airplanes; asks about different places to go; and wants to collect frequent travel loyalty program miles and points.
It sure beats them feeling neglected and resorting to joining gangs, getting wasted or committing crimes.
As much as I despise screaming children who kick seats and whine when they do not get their way, I absolutely enjoy watching the eyes of a young child fill with wonder: discovering how to move that window shade up and down for the first time; visiting a new place in a foreign land; hearing music he or she has never heard before; and speaking that first word in a language other than the one he or she normally speaks. The questions a young child can ask through innocent eyes may cause an adult to stop and think “Wow — I never though of that!” and look at things in an entirely different way…
…so Patrick Smith — who is the author of Ask the Pilot — I respect your opinion and enjoy reading your articles; but my vote would be no: children should not be banned from the premium class cabin of an airplane. There are countless times where they behave better than certain self-important adults who for some reason keep asking people if they know who they are.
Many children certainly behave better than these people who fought over seat recline; or this man who pushed a debate over boarding protocol too far to the point where he was arrested; or people who defecate in hotel pools solely for fun.
In my opinion, the ideal solution would be for parents — as well as other influential figures in the life of a child — to pay attention to the child; to continuously set a proper example; and to teach their children on how to behave while out in public — but without stifling the natural need of the child to learn, grow, wonder…
…and just be himself or herself.