Crying Baby Removed From Premium Class Cabin: Justified or Not?
I n the latest saga pertaining to the ongoing debate of whether or not children and babies should be permitted in the premium class cabin aboard an airplane, a member of the flight crew asked a husband and wife to move to the economy class cabin of the aircraft because their daughter was screaming and crying prior to departure for a flight operated by Delta Air Lines from New York to Los Angeles on Thursday, December 29, 2016.
Crying Baby Removed From Premium Class Cabin: Justified or Not?
Ruby — who will be ten months old on January 11, 2017 — “was so overwhelmed she couldn’t fall asleep”, according to this account which was posted by her mother Arielle Noa Charnas at her Instagram account; and some of the comments were rather brutal:
In case the link to the Instagram message is broken, here is the text from that message:
“On our way to LA a few days ago it was my first time flying with Ruby, I had a screaming crying sleepy baby who was so overwhelmed that she couldn’t fall asleep. My husband and I paid for first class so that we’d have the extra space and could lay down with her – once we were boarded I was getting tons of eye rolls and head shakes from fellow passengers on @delta because my baby was crying (as if I could just look at Ruby and say okay now it’s time to stop). I tried to ignore the people until 10 minutes passed and a flight attendant came over to me and asked me and my baby to move to the back of the plane (as if the people in the back didn’t matter). Give up our seats that we paid for and move. Apparently I was upsetting and getting a lot of complaints from the first class passengers. I started crying because I was so stressed and anxious and instead of the stewardess being helpful and compassionate she instead made the situation worse. I don’t know what’s right and wrong when it comes to flying with a baby but after telling a few people the story they were in shock. Thoughts? We’re headed back to NYC today and we’re hoping for a much better experience.”
Children in the Premium Class Cabin: Why The Debate Continues
There are basically two schools of thought of which the debate is comprised: those who believe that babies and children should have just as much of a right as adults to be aboard an airplane in any class of cabin; and those who paid extra to enjoy an experience which is supposed to be superior to that of the economy class cabin…
…and there are those who believe that passengers seated in the economy class cabin should not be subjected to the screaming and crying of a child — or a disruptive adult, for that matter — regardless of the cause or reason.
After all, there are countless times where many children behave better than certain self-important adults who for some reason keep asking people if they know who they are; 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.
If a person pays extra for the privilege in flying as a passenger seated in the premium economy cabin, is part of that experience not having to deal with the cries and screams of a baby — even if the parents pay for that experience? If the parents are indeed removed from the premium class cabin due to a child who is screaming or crying, should they receive a refund in the form of a difference between the fares of the premium cabin and the economy cabin?
If parents are unable, unwilling or too ignorant to ensure that their precious offspring cannot behave in a reasonable manner when in public — to the point that that child is extremely disruptive in the economy class cabin throughout the entire duration of a transatlantic flight, as I recalled in this article — then perhaps they should not be permitted to fly as passengers; but of course, that is not a viable solution.
Are There Any Viable Solutions?
The easy answer is that any passenger who is disruptive should be removed from the airplane; but is that premise fair to parents with an unhappy baby or infant who screams or cries for a legitimate reason — especially parents who do everything the possibly can to mitigate or eliminate any reason for a baby to scream or cry?
There are also people who wonder if children should travel at all because of uncomfortable or unnatural experiences which are unfamiliar to the child — such as adjustments in air pressure can be quite painful in the ear of a child who does not yet know how to equalize that difference in pressure, for example…
…but in a society where familial relations can reside thousands of miles away, how else can a child be with relatives as often as possible — especially if some of those relatives are unable to travel to be with the child?
Similarly with adults, I believe solutions to the issues pertaining to babies and children cannot be classified as “one size fits all.” Different children will react differently in similar environments; and it is up to the parents to ascertain what is best for their children…
…but we live in an imperfect world where unpleasant experiences can happen even when being as prepared as possible; and even when attempting to create a controlled environment — especially aboard a relatively confined space for hours at a time with no way to exit it until reaching the destination of the airplane.
There has even been discussion of child-free zones to be implemented aboard airplanes — as well as flights free of children altogether; five tips on traveling by airplane with a baby or young child; and seven tips for changing diapers while traveling — all covered in this article which I wrote on Friday, August 14, 2015.
Giving medication to a baby or infant for the sole purpose of ensuring that they sleep throughout the entire flight is an option of last resort and should not be considered unless absolutely necessary — but that is simply my opinion.
In an ideal world, all parents would do everything they can to prepare their babies or infant children for being passengers on a flight; and if that child is not ready for the flight, then the family would think twice about being passengers on an airplane.
As I have written in this article which addressed this issue in general, “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.”
Additionally, children — especially babies and infants — also need to eat, sleep and have their diapers changed when soiled.
With all of the aforementioned points mentioned throughout this article in mind — and it is by no means an exhaustive list — I cannot definitively comment specifically on the situation experienced by Arielle Noa Charnas on whether or not the member of the flight crew was justified in the removal of her family from the premium class cabin, as I have no idea why Ruby “was so overwhelmed that she couldn’t fall asleep”, which I believe is a key part of the question.
There are too many questions which need to be answered — and too many facts missing — before anyone can properly respond to the solicitation of thoughts by Arielle Noa Charnas pertaining to her experience: for example, were the factors which contributed to the “overwhelming” of Ruby the fault of the parents; the result of unforeseen circumstances — or a combination thereof? Was the general personality of Ruby conducive to being a passenger aboard an airplane — for example, does she cry and scream more than other infants her age? As this was the first time Ruby was a passenger on a flight, was she ready for the experience?
Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.