Should Kids Be Banned From First and Business Class?


Two Experiences Rekindle the Debate.

Business class digs on the A380. What could possibly ruin this?   Photo by the author.

Fancy digs on the A380. What could possibly ruin this?    Author’s photo.

 

June 29, 2016

I CONTINUE to be astounded by the sheer number of people traveling around the world with babies, toddlers, and other preschool-age children. Even more astounding is how many of these kids are traveling in first or business class. These tickets cost thousands of dollars, yet it seems there’s no shortage of travelers well-heeled enough to be jetting around in the forward rows with two, three, even a half-dozen small children. How the demographics of air travel have changed, indeed.

Kids are kids. They cry, they run around, they yell, they misbehave. I understand this completely. It’s nobody’s fault, and I accept it. To a point.

 

Experience 1:

I was in Bangkok, looking for a way home. Poking around on Kayak.com, I found an excellent last-minute fare on Asiana, one-way to JFK via Seoul-Incheon, for a little over $2000. (Bangkok has become a mega-hub served by over 90 airlines and fares from the city are very competitive, making it an ideal place for scoring deals like this.) I was excited. Asiana is a five-time SkyTrax winner and is considered by many to be a top-tier carrier. I bought my ticket, picked out my window seats, and couldn’t wait to get to the airport.

And it was downhill from there.

It starts at Bangkok’s Suvarnubhumi airport. My ticket gives me access to Thai Airways’ Royal Orchid Lounge, shared by the various Star Alliance members, of which Asiana is one. Getting access to the lounge is of course part of the whole premium class experience, and I left the hotel extra early to enjoy it.

But when I get there, I discover the lounge isn’t simply overcrowded (as so many premium class lounges tend to be these days). It’s overcrowded with kids. I cannot find a quiet place to sit. The kids are everywhere and they won’t shut up: yelling and crying and running around like it’s recess on the school playground.

The centerpiece of this chaos is an obnoxious guy in a Russian soccer shirt and his belligerent offspring. He’s something of a Vladimir Putin lookalike, sprawled sockless on a sofa with his naked feet hanging over the rail, playing a game on his phone. Around him is a spray of plastic toys deposited by his five — count ’em, five — preschool-age children, who when they aren’t tossing toys around are shrieking and throwing food at each other. They’re unbearably loud. Every so often Vlad claps his hands and scolds them in lazily indignant Russian. They ignore him and carry on.

The waitstaff, for their part, couldn’t care less. When I complain to the woman at the desk, she simply smiles and says “Oh so sorry sir.” Absolutely no effort is made to actually quiet the kids down.

And if the Putin clan isn’t annoying enough, elsewhere in the room at least three infants are crying.

I try not to let it get to me. I distract myself with the buffet, helping myself to a gin and tonic, a miniature pastry-pillow labeled “chicken roll,” and some finger sandwiches made with institutional-looking white bread. I close my eyes and imagine myself on the plane, only minutes from now, sitting back in my business class seat, surrounded by peaceful luxury.

When boarding is announced, I practically run onto the plane. I stow my things and settle in for the five-hour ride to Incheon. I’m relaxed and happy.

And then I hear the sound. It starts as a crackle. Then a whinny. Then a staccato series of gasps and yelps and piercing cries. These are the noises that only a baby makes, and that baby is in business class, three seats over from me.

And as babies are wont to do, the little darling treats the rest of us to a five-hour long, blood-curdling repertoire of periodic yelping and screaming fits. It’s the unpredictability of these fits that’s the worst part: It’s quiet, quiet, quiet; then suddenly there’s screaming. It’s quiet, quiet, quiet again; then suddenly there’s more screaming. This repeats over and over, at erratic intervals of varying duration and loudness.

But it’s all right, you see. It’s okay, because the best and most important parts of this journey is yet to come: I’ll have two hours to kill at Asiana’s lounge at the amazing Incheon airport, followed by the 13-hour flight to JFK in my state-of-the-art “Smartium” business class seat on the 777. Fine, kid, go ahead and cry. The rest of this trip will be great.

Asiana has separate lounges at ICN for first and business class. The business lounge is a sumptuous room of dark wood-tones, plush chairs, a piano and rows of bookshelves. The shelves give it an almost library aesthetic, and I like that. Libraries are quiet. I help myself to a triple espresso and set up my computer at a table near the back. There’s nobody around and I have the whole rear corner to myself.

Asiana lounge at ICN.   Photo by the author.

Asiana lounge at ICN.   Photo by the author.

Once again, at least for a moment, I’m relaxed and happy.

Until, hardly three minutes later, as I’m scanning through some emails, again I hear a tell-tale noise. It’s a creak-creak-creak-creak — the sound of a wheeled apparatus approaching. Somebody’s roll-aboard bag? No. It’s a baby carriage. Actually, it’s a baby carriage flanked by a mom and two toddlers, one on either side of a strapped-in infant. And this foursome of noisemakers is aimed directly at the table next to mine.

As the carriage wheels in alongside, there’s a great and sudden clattering of toys, food containers and juice cartons. Things spill to the floor as the mom yells orders in Korean at the two toddlers, who answer back in barks and squeals and a chorus of hollering.

I gather up my stuff and bolt for another table. This is only marginally helpful, however, because by now the place has filled up, and no shortage of the visitors are kids, most of whom are carrying on. A man comes out of the restroom with his two tiny sons, maybe three or four years old. The kids burst into a run, and as they pass me one of them lets out a scream so shrill that I think my coffee cup is going to crack.

And now, finally, it’s time for the Big Flight.

I made sure to choose one of the window seats with the console facing outward, toward the aisle — this creates a cubicle effect, as if you’re sitting there in your own little private jet. This is going to be awesome! I’m going to put on my Asiana slippers, drink some wine, watch some movies, and dine on gourmet food before stretching out to rest in my full-flat sleeper.

Asiana business class.   Photo by the author.

Asiana business class.   Author’s photo.

That’s the plan, anyway. Until.

Until I look up from my complimentary newspaper and there — there! — one row ahead of me, and directly diagonal to my seat, is, you guessed it, a baby. My skin goes prickly hot and and my pulse starts racing. There’s just…. it can’t…. I mean… how can…..? No!

Yes!

And I would love to tell you that this time I got lucky, and this was one of those quiet and well-behaved babies who whines for a minute and then, miracle of miracles, utters nary a peep for the rest of the flight. Don’t you love when that happens? Those are the flights that restore our faith in both air travel and humanity at large. Look at that adorable child napping peacefully like that.

But this is not one of those times. This is not one of those babies. This kid is neither napping nor quiet. He’s as loud and angry as a lawnmower.

Nothing shuts him up. And he’s of that certain age — that age between infant and toddler, when a voice begins to gain the sonic traction that allows it to really carry. At the height of his discomfort this tiniest of humans is pushing ninety decibels. It’s a wailing, electric, claxon-like sound, like a nuclear attack alert, loud enough to rattle my tableware.

The racket comes and goes, comes and goes. Reading is impossible; sleeping is out of the question. The only escape is watching movies with the volume cranked up (unfortunately Asiana’s entertainment system is terrible and offers only a few boring choices). The last hour of the flight is the worst. The kid cries nonstop. It is so loud you cannot hear the public address announcements from the crew.

When we touch down at JFK in September sunshine just before 11 a.m., I don’t feel the least bit sated, refreshed or relaxed. On the contrary I am exhausted and stressed-out.



 

Experience two:

There’s a lot to like in Emirates business class on the Airbus A380. The sleeper seats are spacious and comfortable. The carrier’s “ICE” entertainment system is second to none. The menu is eclectic and the food is tasty. Amenities are all around you, from the duvet and mattress to the luxurious lounge and bar in the back of the upper deck. What could possibly ruin this?

I’m at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, walking up the jet bridge that leads to the upper deck, when a huge family of at least a dozen, six of them kids, rudely cuts the line. Please, I say to myself, don’t let them be sitting near me. There are almost a hundred seats in the A380’s business class, so my chances are good, right?

Wrong. They aren’t just seated near me, they are seated all around me. They are in the row ahead of me, in the seats next to me, and in the row behind me too. The adults in the group are obnoxious enough, shouting across the aisles at each other. The kids, though, take it to the next level. They’re screaming, running up and down the aisle. They’re climbing over the seat-backs, their heads popping up, whack-a-mole style. One of the little girls is yelling out to her sister, whose name sounds like the word “Bay.” Every two minutes, for the next seven hours, she will scream,”BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!”

When I can’t take it any more I walk over and ask the mother to please control her children. I feel like the biggest asshole in the world, but this cost me a lot of money, and the whole point was to be comfortable and away from the usual racket.

Slouched in her chair, the woman looks up at me contemptuously. “They are only children.”

This is a standard rebuttal. We paid for the tickets, the argument goes, so we have a right to be here, and hey, it’s just kids being kids, right? Actually, no, I’m sorry, this is not a legitimate justification.

As the flight goes on, there’s no escape from the racket. Not even in the bar in the A380’s rear cabin — the bar! — which as the hours pass has becomes a sort of day-care center full of mothers clutching their crying children. Perhaps they are congregating here out of courtesy? After all, people in the bar are socializing and drinking, not trying to sleep. Maybe, but that doesn’t excuse the one woman who has placed her toddler on one of the bar’s semi-circular sofas and is playing The Screaming Game. The Screaming Game goes like this: The kid screams, and mom screams back. The kid then screams louder, and mom screams back, also louder. The kid then lets out a piercing, blasting, hell-on-earth screech of enough decibels to blow the rudder off the airplane. Mom screams back yet again, louder still, in demented encouragement, then looks around, smiling, as if to say, isn’t my shrieking child just the cutest darned thing in the world?

I am not making this up.

Trying to chill at 35,000 feet.   Photo by the author.

Trying to chill at 35,000 feet.    Author’s photo.

And here’s the thing:

When you’re flying in long-haul first or business class, you aren’t merely paying for transportation. You are paying for comfort. For luxury, even. This is premium class, not economy class. That includes not having your experienced wrecked by disruptive passengers of any age. This isn’t about protecting the “arrogant” flyers up front from the noisy riffraff in steerage. But in premium class there’s a higher standard and greater expectations. And while perhaps you have the right to bring your kids along with you, you do not have the right to ruin the experience of those around you.

Unlike a high percentage of the people who travel up front, I was not flying on company expense or cashing in frequent-flyer miles. I paid out of pocket for my ticket, and I did so to be as comfortable and pampered as possible. This is not something I normally can afford, and my expectations were high — as they should have been. And the fare I paid was a steal. What about those people who pay six, seven, or ten thousand dollars for a premium seat? Shouldn’t there be some assurance that they won’t be subject to needless discomfort over the course of their journey?

Neither is it the offended passenger’s responsibility to deal with the problem by, say, buying a pair of noise-cancelling headphones (a commonly offered non-solution). For one thing, most premium cabin seats are already equipped with noise-reducing headphones, and they do not block out the sound of a yelling kid. But more importantly, it throws the onus onto the person being annoyed, rather than the party doing the annoying. It’s like saying: I reserve the right to destroy the peace and quiet of those around me, and it’s their responsibility to deal with it.

Notice also that my experiences cover two different phenomenon. The first involve infants crying through no fault of their own; the other involves children, which is to say their parents, simply not giving a damn. Both are vexing issues, but it’s the latter that’s the much bigger problem. This isn’t so much about kids crying, annoying as that can be, than it is about kids, toddler age and frequently older, who scream and who shriek, and whose parents seem to find this either entertaining or otherwise unimportant. Thus, it’s less an issue about children being brought into a place where they simply don’t belong, than an issue about adults who fail to control them.

How carriers might deal with this is a tough question. Noisiness in the context of a lounge can easily be addressed by asking the offenders to please hush down, and, should this fail, being asked to leave. On the airplane, though, you can’t simply relegate families to another section of the plane. Maybe it’s time for more airlines to start enforcing an age limit. It’s is a difficult issue, because more and more high-end flyers are traveling with youngsters, and the last thing airlines want to do is alienate their most valuable customers. The key, maybe, is knowing the point at which you begin ticking off more people than you’re making happy. Some carriers, including Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia, already have restrictions, either banning kids below a certain age outright, or establishing kid-free zones within a particular cabin.

Nobody in any section of the plane wants to deal with a noisy kid for thirteen hours. But if you’re going to do something, it would only makes sense to start at the front, in premium class, where there’s a much greater expectation of comfort.

 

Note to readers:

You are welcome to leave your comments below, but please refrain from insults and, especially, threats. Since this post was first published in 2015, I’ve received buckets of hate mail, up to and including threats of bodily harm. It astounds me how frequently certain people insist on making this a personal thing.

Rarely will you hear somebody say, for example: “I feel that families with small children have every right to be in business class, and the fact that children might be noisy is a risk that any premium class passenger has to accept.”

Instead, I am called “despicable” and “disgusting” and there is something “obviously wrong with” me. Or, as one letter-writer put it, I “should be pitied.” And those are among the more polite comments I’ve heard. Do the people who say these things realize how defensive and irrational they sound?

And the most pompous, insufferable, and insulting comments of all are those that insinuate non-parents are somehow less humane than everybody else, and that those without children exist in some half-developed state where true empathy and understanding are impossible.

Please stick to the issue itself. This is not about me.

 

Addendum:

Update: July 1st, Kennedy Airport, a good example of what I’m talking about:

A woman with a stroller is standing in a crowded boarding lounge. In the stroller is a two or three year-old girl. The girl is not crying, she is screaming, at the top of her lungs — just shrieking and shrieking and shrieking, angry as a tornado, throwing things and carrying on and demanding to be let out of the stroller. It’s so loud that you can’t even hear the boarding announcements. The mom, for her part, simply stands there, chatting away on a mobile phone, as if none of this is happening. She makes absolutely no effort — nothing — to quiet the apocalyptic wailing of her kid. This goes on for about fifteen minutes.

 

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LUXURY AIRLINE SMACKDOWN. THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE OVERRATED.



 

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483 Responses to “Should Kids Be Banned From First and Business Class?”
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  1. Ed says:

    My wife and i have flown twice this year in business class, and are doing a business class trip from london to australia at xmas with emirates, All with our year old in tow.. I dont dislike children as much as i dislike people like you on flights. There are two amazing things in this world, the first is one that money can buy (and you are clearly entitled and feel that money should buy you priviledge) which are “noise cancelling headphones” – the second, is tolerance. Children are developing humans who are learning to control their emotions, you’re an adult who clearly hasnt learnt to control his yet.

    In life we are faced with problems that we cant control but solve – control your life, rather than chosing to put yourself in situations where you feel the need to do nothing about it but moan and complain. Do tell me, if you hve children, would/do you relegate yourself to the back of the plane with those who, from your tone, deserve a poorer flight experience because they are poorer/spending less?

  2. Lesa Williams says:

    Dear Business Class Traveler,

    I held a job that required I fly EVERY single week of EVERY single year. I do enjoy flying. I was single with no children at that time. No. I don’t think all kids are cute. Yes. I know all kids misbehave. I agree that children can make your flight miserable. I used to carry gum and fruit snacks in my already heavy briefcase for those parents who neglect to learn that tiny ears experience great pain in flight.
    I found children to be the least of my flight worries. Since I traveled so much, I was a platinum level flyer on ALL the domestic carriers. I had free rein of ALL the domestic carrier lounges. The persons I found unbearable during flight were the first class perverts. Yes. You read that right. I cannot tell you how many perverts, in first class, touched me inappropriately. I cannot tell you how many of them were removed from first class (during the flight) and detained at the end of the flight to allow me to get through the airport and on my connection flight without them chasing me down. Believe it or not, twenty-something females are business professionals, too. Men do not get accosted in first class by female perverts.
    Now back to children. I am now married and have two boys. They are seven years apart in age. Neither started flying until AFTER one-year-of-age. Both were groom for this task. I wear a suite (even on vacation) – they wear dress shirts. They NEVER disturb fellow passengers. They are groom to be curtious

  3. monika says:

    I am actually a mother with a 3 years old toddler, and we do business class only, so.. In a way I agree with you – why do you have to spend thousands and pull up with somebody’s child yelling, but at the same time – parents like me have also right to do business class if they want to, i mean we also spend thousands for it. It is all about common sense – our son is perfectly well behaved and just play his cars etc, or watches movies, if he has a melt down we just apologize to others and try to clam him down asap or walk him through the plane. It is obvious nobody shall let their kids run around and yell in plane no matter of the class.

  4. Sue says:

    This just happened to me too, flying Air Canada from Geneva to Montreal. Not one but TWO screaming toddlers and their amazingly proud parents in business class. The kids were permitted to run up and down the darkened aisle, prohibiting sleep for everyone else. The moms took turns walking both of them, pacifiers in mouths, in laps around the plane. As soon as they would take them back to the seats, the screaming would start again.
    We spent 3X the coach rate for our seats, and there was absolutely no ability to get any rest (the entire point IMHO).

    Moms: Don’t use pacifiers, they do not work. And do not let your child walk (or run) in the aisle at all. They will want to do it incessantly. Walking them around does not work, it just makes it worse.

  5. David says:

    Some valid points but I stopped reading as I lost interest. It became just blah, blah, blah, whah, whah, whah.
    A pointless exercise in futility. People generally don’t give a sh*t about anyone else. And it seems more evident than ever that money can’t buy class even if it can buy First/Business Class.

  6. Sophia Williams says:

    You know what might work? A “family class” cabin. In the family class you’d have the same three tiers of seat, a few rows of standard seats, some intermediate booths (containing 4 to 6 seats each so that at worst with a family of 10 children one adult could accompany each child) and some roomier booths for a higher pricepoint again with service and food equivalent to business and first class. Then instead of a “bar” there would be a play-zone where kids could burn off some energy on long flights. Parents who wanted a premium service could get a first class booth in the family cabin and refrain from bothering others and their kids could feel free to play. There could be age appropriate video games on the entertainment system. The staff on the family cabin could be trained to defuse tantrums and help get babies to sleep.

  7. Aaron says:

    What I got out of this blog:

    1) Lower class passengers have to deal with screaming kids and I don’t care.
    2) I pay a lot of money to be spoiled by an airline.
    3) I shouldn’t have to deal with the problems of a lower class person.
    4) I am entitled

    • Patrick says:

      “Lower class person”? Aaron what are you talking about? We are discussing cabin sections on an airplane. You don’t have to extrapolate this into some weird class/culture thing. Your comment is a little bizarre and I don’t understand your gripe. The simple fact is that some people do pay considerably extra to sit in premium class. The same way that some people buy nicer cars than other people, or nicer houses, or bigger TVs, or a better computer, or better produce at the supermarket… or they otherwise splurge on whatever makes them happy. And yes, by doing so, they are “entitled” to whatever perks or added benefits that products entails. In this case, it’s better comfort. That’s why first or business class exists.

  8. Tricia says:

    I paid for a United “First Class” upgrade for a four+ hour flight, this was the second leg of an intl flight on my way home because I have back issues and my previous flight was miserable.

    I get to 1st class after my 8 hour flight in economy premium across the isle are two children over 5 and the mom was sitting next to me, she was nice – said it was their 40th flight. Behind me was a very loud baby, but I figured the parents were smart to get into first class so they can all be more comfortable. I’m a parent, I tried to be chill and empathetic but the kids across the isle would yell, shriek and cry over every little thing, the charger didn’t work, they were done with their drink or food, I tried to tune it out but mom next to me would get up every time they yelled, would “shhsh” them in the loudest whisper I ever heard, then 2 minutes later do it all over again. Finally after she got up for the 10th time she spilled her all over me. She felt really bad, asked them to apologize to me and their response was “why? you were the one who spilled on her”

    The issue I have the children were in their own isle in 1st class unattended. Economy plus has a row of 3 with plenty of legroom that should have met their needs. I wouldn’t have minded sitting next to the chid and helping them out either. Even basic signage that says “quiet please” or “respect your fellow passengers” would go a long way for kids and adults. Babies you can’t help, but maybe some parents need to get a clue.

  9. Robert Phillips says:

    I have just complained to Easyjet (who haven’t bothered to respond) after a three hour twenty minute shreik-a-thon by a baby around 1.5-2 years old on a flight from London to Athens, Greece-it was so bad the mother was crying too! I complained to the staff as we got off and they were rude-it was the most horrendous experience in more than 50 years of flying and the staff not only did nothing to help but were rude too. The baby was sitting right behind me and I had bought a premium ‘speedy boarding’ seat which was considerably more expensive than the seats behind me-but it’s not the expense- Babies on flights are a huge problem. I was flying down to Australia last December on China Southern Airlines-all was fine for the London to Guangzhou section then the Guangzhou to Sydney flight had 6 babies directly behind my business class seat in Economy in cots attached to the bulk head – all the mothers went to sleep with noise canceling headphones on and left the babies to scream for 8 hours!!! I complained and was moved up the business class section but I could still hear them! – the entire business class was so angry and everyone complained.

  10. Bas says:

    Babies do not belong on a plane, and especially not on long haul flights. Other than in some very specific circumstances, parents should just wait a couple of years until a child can articulate that its ears are hurting. Holiday destinations that can be reached by car are also fun.

    For older childres, there is no excuse for poor behaviour and airlines should either refuse people at the gate or simply ban them (the parents in this case) for a period of time, similar to people who drink way too much, if the kids cannot be controlled. Luckily the social norm for the overwhelming majority people is still that in public one should behave.

    The argument that these parents have also paid for it, is a strange one. Paying does not imply that you are entitled to do what you like or be obnoxious to people around you (especially in a confined space). I understand that competition is stiff and airlines do not want to lose clients but in this case in my opinion it is nothing more than setting some boundaries for the minority that needs reminder.

    • KM says:

      Hi!

      I traveled extensively all my life. My mother recounted how my sister was sobbing, and she was doing everything to pacify her, and it took time to calm her. That just happens with little people. She was on a flight because her grandparents lived thousands of miles away. A man said to my mother, “I never flew anywhere until I was old enough to behave.” Obviously it really hurt my mother’s feelings, because all these years later, she recounts the story of her first born. Ironically I would say being courteous is fundamental to behaving!

      I’ve had my fair share of flights with crying children, those who kick the back of the seats (which is rude and parents should control) but honestly nothing crazy. But you know what I have had repeatedly? Rude people, mainly men, who have imbibed too much. I’ve had my seat continually hit as one man recounts stories to another, I’ve been denied access to get up by my seat mate to go to the bathroom, on a long haul flight. I’ve been hit on, I’ve endured lots of profanity. I’ve had big people ooze into my seat. I’ve sat by smelly adults. Given my druthers I would have chosen a baby to sit by.

      Lastly, I am a mother. We are also adopting internationally. Traveling we may buy business, to get a flat bed. I will, as I always do, try to help my child stay free from meltdowns. But if they can sleep better to endure a long trip it would be worth it. A mile up stuck in a tube, let’s all just try and extend kindness!

    • Gesq1 says:

      So, 15-20% of the world’s population shouldn’t fly in your opinion? Because some of them are loud? The fact that you’ve chosen not to breed doesn’t somehow bestow upon you the ability to only have to deal with people of your own age (and class, I assume).

  11. anon says:

    i took my little brother (5) on a business class on a 4hr trip by myself when I was 14. He is disabled too and I was able to keep him under control. He is naturally a sunny natured kid with alot of exuberance but the trip went without any tantrums or the like… It depends on how they are brought up I guess because we travel alot on planes – at least one international flight a year. But I wouldn’t stand for any bad behaviour at all on the plane because it is totally unfair to other flyers..

  12. Patrick says:

    I’m always astonished by articles like this. I’ve never read anywhere on an airline site that you are guaranteed a quiet peaceful experience anywhere onboard an aircraft. They advertise what amenities you’ll receive, how those particular amenities will ideally help you to relax, but in terms of ambient noise, they are quite silent. If we’re talking about infringing on your “right” to quiet because you paid so much for your ticket, what about the children’s rights? Presumably, their tickets were also paid for, were they not? Should your conception of what is right and proper trump theirs? They are children, after all, and have an excess of energy to expend, are noisy to some adult ears, and simply move around quite a lot at times. Should they or their parents be equally offended at your intolerance? Again – if the premise that you paid for your ticket and therefore your expectations should be met as you perceive them, how do you reconcile that with the fact that the parents of these children also paid for their tickets and therefore paid for their expectations to be met? Further, if you’re an individual and paid for ONE business class ticket, should the family who paid for 4, 6, 8 tickets not be entitled to proportionally more of their expectations being met than you?
    I’m not sure i’m taking a particular position here, but I’m always astonished by the one-sidedness of these articles and comments generally.

  13. EH says:

    Totally agree Patrick. When we pay for a quality experience, such that an airline can offer, we should not be inconvenienced by parents with no class / consideration who either don’t care or think their kids are entitled to do whatever they want. A slightly different example: in business class from Europe and parent with kids in coach running up and down the aisle thru business class, father chasing the kids. Flight attendants, of course in the back gossiping w/ each other instead of enforcing the FAA rule about being in your paid cabin.

  14. A. Smith says:

    Agreed. Ideally for me, it would be great if there were a section towards the back 1/4 of the plane for children under the age of ten. Nor only should this apply on business/first class, but it should also apply for economy class. Three times this has happened to me before. Once on a Southwest flight from ATL-MSP, on an AirTran flight from ATL-MCO, and on an American Airlines flight from OGG(Maui)-LAX. On the flight to MSP, there was a nine-year-old sitting right behind me, and he was constantly kicking my seat, and kept on yelling “Moooooooommmmmmyyyyyy give me my iPad back!!!!,” as loudly as he could, while the mother of the child yelled back louder “Shut up! You are embarrassing me infront of the whole airport” This lasted the WHOLE flight. On the flight to MCO, however, there was a child next to me who, for the whole flight, was yelling “Land-o Land-o Orlando!” repeatedly, and for the whole flight. On the flight to LAX, there was a seven year old girl who decided to sing Disney for five hours straight as loudly as she could, therefore meaning that I would not be able to sleep.

  15. Butters says:

    They do use guidelines. It’s called a market driven economy.

    To say that the kids should be flying coach where they can annoy the unwashed economy fliers is like saying the folks flying J class should charter their own jets if they can’t stand the sound, sight, or smell of children.

    • Allison says:

      That’s ridiculous. I’ve flown with my toddlers and believe you me, they behaved. It is NOT alright to let children run amok in any circumstance. It’s a simple matter of teaching your children MANNERS. Simple courtesy.

  16. Amber says:

    I do agree that it is a huge annoyance to have toddlers and babies shrieking while you are trying to relax, read, watch movies, play games, do important work, or simply get some sleep. People spend a lot of money on these seats and they should be allowed to have the comfort of enjoying the luxury of their flight without a crying child (or two, or six) in the background. Airlines should set some boundaries or guidelines on what children are allowed in the business and first class cabins.

  17. Sandra Furness says:

    I agree with everything you have said. There should be a minimum age in upper & first class. These seats are very expensive and people are entitled to be able to enjoy their flight without being bothered by crying or badly behaved children. Some people want to sleep as they have meetings to attend as soon as they arrive at their destination, come on airlines, make a stand! Give us a break.

  18. Helmet says:

    I absolutely agree. I fly business where is it available and pay out of my own pocket for the seats. So many times (including last week coming flying from Bali – Dubai – London with Emirates) there are screaming infants on the flight in Business Class. Sorry, but it’s unacceptable to have toddlers and babies screaming in Business Class. I’m not being a big headed snob, it’s simple – I pay thousands of GBP so travel business for many reasons, one of them SHOULD be a bit of peace and quiet without screaming infants in the vicinity. It’s selfish enough to take toddlers on an aircraft anyway without having to ruin the flight for someone who has paid a lot of money for their Biz Seat.

    I know, I know, if they pay then why shouldn’t they be allowed to travel on Business, right? Wrong. I had a screaming baby in my earhole for the entire 9 hour flight last week with a family who treated the whole thing with such arrogance and care free attitude to other passengers it was incredible. Now I sound like a moron complaining, but I genuinely believe all toddlers and infants should be banned from Business Class. Next time I travel long haul I will be picking an airlines that does exactly that for that reason. Luckily, many airlines are now starting to do this and let’ hope for the day when all airlines do it and actually the day when toddlers and babies are not allowed to fly at all!

    Over and out.

  19. Pete says:

    I fly regularly, several times a month, in all classes, long haul and short, and I really can’t see the problem as such a big deal. Yes, noise and disturbance from babies and small children can be extremely annoying, when it happens right next to me. Even more so, when I feel tired already, which lowers my tolerance considerably. But I’m just as annoyed by 30 minutes of superfluous chatter on the intercom, “informing” me of such things as frequent flyer bonuses, duty free shopping and that the flight is actually taking the route to my destination, and not some other random route. Or flight attendants who insist on waking me during meal service. There are numerous reasons why I could feel annoyed on almost every flight, no matter whether I sit in seat 1A or 45E. In actuality, children are not really much of a problem, or no more so, than those other problems. Your example above is pretty extreme. And while I’ve told a cabin chief on Ethiopian once, who just couldn’t seem to stop, that enough is enough, it’s all part of the experience, and if a friendly word with the parents doesn’t help, and the flight’s purser can’t intervene successfully, well, then it’s time to don those noise canceling Bose Quiet Comfort earphones, my soft and comfortable Lufthansa first class eye mask and wrap myself in a blanket (or two if I travel in steerage), and cocoon myself away from it all. No big deal. It’s me, and no one else, who decides and CHOOSES to become annoyed or not.

  20. jo shields says:

    Dear Patrick,
    I am on your side.
    Out of control and shrieking children are just part of the astounding rudeness of travelers that is increasing in the air (and on the ground. Just spend some time in an urban coffee shop). I will also include airline employees (a very small number but shocking when they are encountered) in this statement.
    I don’t travel as much as I used to. When I did, I tried to fly in Business. I only encountered an incident like you described once. And it was ended only because of the intervention of a well known Academic/TV Host who finally spoke up, embarrassing everyone involved (including the flight attendants). He was given a round of applause.
    If we are counting, I will vote for a ban on children in Business/First Class.
    We have to take a stand for decorum and kindness.
    Jo Shields

  21. Planely Obsessed says:

    I never have flown Business or First, and the trip I’ve got booked this June in premium economy will be the fanciest I’ve travelled but I’ve never had a flight with a kid that screams the whole way. I’ve experienced those kids that scream or throw up but every time their parents quiet them and it’s all fine the rest of the way. I’ve probably had more experiences with annoying teens and adults than I’ve had with little kids (you know, the loud ones and the ones that kick your seat).
    I’ve walked through Business on my way down to the back and I’ve seen the kids lazing about in their oversized seat, picking their noses and wiping it on the seat and I can never recall seeing that down in economy. Once I was on a flight from Singapore to Zurich and the baby in front of me didn’t make a sound for the whole 13 hours. I had no idea she was there.
    I guess it’s just an “Awww, my little cutie wouldn’t hurt nobody” thing. The parents probably grew up as sheltered as their kids so that’s how they’re raising them!

  22. JustMe says:

    I have mixed experiences. First, I do agree with author that the screaming or unmanageable child is a nuisance IN ALL CLASSES. On one of my last flights, the child (maybe 1 year old) kept removing MY EYEGLASSES! Realizing the mother didn’t care (she laughed repeatedly), I was forced to hold a magazine to my left, and tie up my hair to avoid getting drooled on. GRRR

    That being said, it is the responsibility of the parents to manage this. I traveled (in first class because I was a frequent business traveler), with my infant. She stayed in a papoose thing I wore, and slept quietly throughout. I also traveled with her as a toddler … not only did she sleep throughout, but slept through us getting the stroller, gate checking the stroller at a second plane, and half way through the second flight. We made sure she had exercise and was ready for sleep before the flight, and while she never needed it, we had items to occupy her with while IN the seat. Had she not travelled so well, I would have left her home. I suspect fellow passengers were grateful after the flight that she wasn’t the headache they first assumed she’d be 🙂 She only really became a problem in late teens when she got horrible reactions during landing (ears) … and after one bad flight where she was verbally freaking out, I purchased earplanes, and voila.

  23. @LeeWhiteTiger says:

    Amused by your antics, but a 50-cent set of earplugs should do the trick.

  24. Alejandro Davila says:

    I feel your pain my friend, I’m too a frequent flyer. However this is a no-winning battle, airlines can’t just stop selling BC and FC tickets to parents with children. What they can do is to help parents to quiet their children, although this is cultural issue. Have you ever seen an expat asking a local to keep their children quiet? The scene this will cause will be worst then 20 children jumping around at the same time. Believe it or not, I kind of mix it up now days, on flights under 8 hours I just flight economy and save the bucks. On long haul flights, I take an chance but making sure I take with me my Boss Noise Cancelling Headphone, makes a huge difference. The world is getting smaller and with it, kids are part of the traveling experience too. As long as people can pay for the ticket, everyone can fly.

    Safe travels,

    Alex

  25. Alejandro Davila says:

    I feel you pain my friend, I’m too a frequent flyer. However this is a no-winning battle, airlines can’t just stop selling BC and FC tickets to parents with children. What they can do is to help parents to quiet their children, although this is cultural issue. Have you ever seen an expat asking a local to keep their children quiet? The scene this will cause will be worst then 20 children jumping around at the same time.
    Believe it or not, I kind of mix it up now days, on flights under 8 hours I just flight economy and save the bucks. On long haul flights, I take an chance but making sure I take with me my Boss Noise Cancelling Headphone, makes a huge difference.
    The world is getting smaller and with it, kids are part of the traveling experience too. As long as people can pay for the ticket, everyone can flight.

    Safe travels,

    Alex

  26. Claire says:

    Oh my, you have just saved me a fortune. I was literally about to book a flight with Emirates to Australia. Trawling through sites to ascertain minimum ages for business class. I’m travelling with my impeccably well behaved and we’ll mannered 13year old daughter. As a once in a lifetime trip for her I was going to book business class at an extra cost of about £5000. Economy it will now be, I can little afford all the extra to possibly not enjoy the experience. I will instead upgrade my hotels. I must also add, I think there should be a quiet section as you can get on trains for example.

  27. Agreed!! says:

    I agree with everything the author has said. I traveled business with my husband out of pocket many times and was horrified whenever this happened to us. Parents of misbehaved kids should at least make an effort to quiet them down.

  28. SteveP says:

    KLM has a 747 Combi configuration with a small Comfort Economy (premium) along the left side with the galleys on the right. This is sometimes promoted as the “family” section as it is close to the galleys, relatively compact and farther from the larger sections.

    As far as First/Business and kids go – obviously there are plenty of very poor parents with plenty of money, but it’s all about the money to the airline accountants. Enjoy!

  29. Sitaram says:

    I’m with you about the parents who don’t seem to care, don’t even think they should care. Having a colicky infant is one thing, but a spoilt brat (or bratS) running up and down yelling and screaming and the parents not even attempting to quiet them, is another.

    What I did not see you mention (or missed it if you did) is that this is a relatively small, closed environment, meaning not only is the sound pretty much in your face, there’s no possibility of escape. I would not (and I’m sure you would not) say this if this were, say, a mall or similar public area – we’d just be on our way to some other spot. Or get out of the mall entirely.

    Parents of unruly kids need to recognise this, and I would absolutely blame them for not doing so.

    Dealing with the problem, however, is subjective. In many cases it is a matter of opinion whether the parent is doing something or not, so it’s hard to enforce anything *fairly*.

  30. BG Davis says:

    The days when children were to be seen and not heard are long gone. As are notions of courtesy to other people. Even in Japan, where the standard used to be “you have no right to inflict yourself on other people,” by the 90s some Japanese yuppie parents would let their kids run wild in public.
    When I was young, the local movie theater had the “Cry Room” – a soundproofed room with nice seats, high in the rear of the theater, with a large soundproof (triple-glazed?) window so that occupants could view the movie. If a kid started crying, the parent was asked to take the kid to the Cry Room. If the parent refused, they were escorted from the theater. It worked.
    Something like this could solve the problem in the first-class airport lounge areas. As for the aircraft, things are so out of control now (pigs and horses as companion animals!?!) that any solution seems far away. Maybe certain flights for adults only?

  31. K says:

    Those are parenting fails.

    As a kid I was one of 3 girls and we lived overseas and travelled ALOT. We were carefully trained in how you behave in public, how you behave while travelling. Our parents also planned ahead. We had snacks, crayons, games, small blankets.

    As a mom I routinely travel with my 2 girls, who are likewise trained in how to behave in public and how to behave while travelling. And I, like my parents, prepare ALOT before hand with far more than just ‘how long will the flight/train last?’…

    You also have to include the walk from the car to the terminal, checkin, waiting for security lines, hanging out in the terminal, boarding and debarking. Not only do you need to consider drinks, snacks, restroom, and activities, but also how you layer them and how accessible they will be for use at the right time. We’ve been on flights direct from east to west coast US, 5 star hotels and 4 star restaurants OK.

    And, yes, those kids are legally yours. If you can’t ignore your yippy puppy chewing on someone else’s bag and running around tripping other passengers, then you can’t ignore your kids, even though some days you fervently wish you could. “They’re kids” is a chronological statement, not a social excuse. It may take a village, but random strangers around you are more like a trading post or gypsies in that not only are they NOT going to help take care of your kids, there will be truly unpleasant consequences if you get the wrong circumstances.

  32. martin says:

    It it time for the airlines to be aware of this severe problem which is the worst expericance (except accidents) on a flight. Whether in Eco or Business I experianced horrible sitations when beeing disturbed by crying children for hours and once almost was beaten by a father when I mentioned thomething.

    There are some first airlines who installed a Quiet Zone where children below 14 are not allowed. If I ever have the opportunity I would fly such an airline. Certainly it is more complicated to handle an additional section in the airplane but on the long term it will pay back for the airline, am very sure!

  33. Donald says:

    Its not always possible for parents to control smaller children’s behavior in an enclosed area like a plane. As they get older (from 0 on) the capacity to does improve, and it isnt really possible to remove a child from the area aas one would in a restaurant. That all being said though, at minimum, parents should at least have the decency to “appear” to care when their kids are disrupting the area and people around them, and appear to try to control them, even if there isn’t a lot they can do. I don’t fly business with my kids simply because of cost, but we often use lounges. All the kids receive a briefing before we go in, and we are cognizant of their behavior and its effect on other people there. They are told that this is an “adult area” and not a playground. When the kids were babies or toddlers, and you really can’t stop a baby from crying, I always felt really bad when they would start crying on a flight. I don’t even like it when someone’s baby or kid is kicking up a fuss on a flight, but if the parent at least appears to care and appears to feel bad, I mostly give it a pass. I don’t think kids should be banned from business or first class (though I’m not about to lay out that kind of money for my three kids to fly in business…they are lucky I pay to preselect their seats in economy, lol), but I’m with you totally on the thing about the parents who don’t even seem to think its a problem when the kids are disrupting the people around them.

  34. Kelli Campbell says:

    I have a 2 year old I will be flying with on a six hour flight in may. We have waited as long as we could to take him on this flight. I wish we didn’t have to. At age 2 he’s still not quite understanding that when he is mad or uncomfortable that a good scream and flail is not the best choice. I’m praying he will sleep most of the flight. I intend to have his iPad stocked with videos and apps and a carryon with new and I interesting toys he has never seen. I want him to be happy and entertained and QUIET. I don’t know how we will deal with his screams if he starts up bc there is nowhere to take him so his toddler moments won’t bother others. My grandfather, my son’s namesake, is 94. I’d like for them to meet before he passes. But truly, I wish we could avoid this long flight for at least two more years. Parents today do not give a rip about their obnoxious kids. At all. Now we won’t be in first class bc while my tall husband would have appreciated the extra leg room, we had no intention of bringing our toddler to that sacred space. Flying is horrible as it is and making it horrible for people who paid a premium for their seat is an asshole thing to do. I don’t think young kids belong in business or first class either unless they are well capable of using indoor voices and have parents who will enforce said voices. I hate flying.

    • BG Davis says:

      “At age 2 he’s still not quite understanding that when he is mad or uncomfortable that a good scream and flail is not the best choice.”
      Why not? A lot of children have been taught by that age.

  35. Caroline says:

    Amen! I paid for three first class tickets on a redeye Delta flight from SAN Diego to ATL last year and couldn’t believe our rotten luck. The entire night was awful because of a crying infant who wailed on and on for hours in the first class section. Worse was that ALL of the crew spent their time with this baby and mom. No service no nothing. I get it. I’m the parent of two kids who are now teenagers but when they were young we kept flying to a minimum and certainly didn’t spring for first class seats. When they cried they were dealt with, be it in a store, restaurant, and yes, a plane. At the risk of being self-righteous, we took charge of our children and didn’t allow them to go wild at the expense of others. It’s not just planes-I was riding on a one hour ferry ride in SC when a toddler had decided she had enough and threw down. Her parents said “just leave her to cry it out” but the rub was she threw herself on the floor and unleashed her fury for the entire ride. Are you kidding me?

  36. George G says:

    I feel your pain and it is out of control! If it is not kids it could be the “service” animal. I had a German Shepard the size of a moose in my aisle taking up the foot area. Travel is not fun!

  37. Vitsing says:

    I totally agree, enough-is-enough! Airlines please ban Kids from 1st Class and strongly consider banning them from Business Class or at least segregating to the back of the Class Cabin.

  38. Stephen Goldstein says:

    Loved reading this and couldn’t agree more!!!

  39. Ashton says:

    People today are not disciplining their kids enough.

    I firmly believe that those who fail to discipline their kids for acting out unreasonably are really destroying their kids lives with no regard for their thoughtless actions. These kids, through no fault of their own, will grow up to hate authority, throw a fit when they don’t get what they want, and will more than likely have poor morals.

    How can parents be so careless? If my kids disrespected me like that, they would be getting a spanking right there in front of everyone on the airplane. I don’t expect kids to act like adults, but respect is a concept kids should understand from a early age.

  40. Jill Gott says:

    Everything you have said is not 100% true….nope…1000% true! We live in the most permissive and egotistical time period in air travel. Sadly, these spoiled rotten hellions are the ones that appear in USA Today as killing their parents because they didn’t get those $500 sneakers……seriously……if anyone has the resources to fly Business or First…then they have the resources to leave the little darlings with a nanny……handicapped parents (blind/deaf) don’t you want a proper holiday? Leave “Freddy” on Elm Street with a sitter….

  41. David R says:

    With few exceptions, the current generation of parents is divided into two basic categories:

    1. I feel that my children’s happiness is paramount and I will sacrifice everything to ensure that. Including you.

    2. Although I recognize, deep down, that their behavior is a problem, I am unable to control my children. I lack either the strength of character or intelligence to achieve this goal.

  42. Joe Kultgen says:

    I sympathize. More so because I cannot afford to travel business class. When you add the irritations you’ve experienced to the already dismal grind of flying economy, well, I for one am thankful that passengers have limited access to weapons.

    Not everyone is equipped to be a responsible parent. These people sometimes need to travel long distance at more than surface transport speed. Even in cases where the child isn’t the reason for the trip, bringing them along may be the most economical solution. I’d charge at least as much as a business class ticket to supervise these kids during their parents absence, and a hefty deposit to ensure the parents would return.

    Perhaps it’s time they had their own class. Converted baggage compartment?

  43. Texan78730 says:

    The rudeness, self-centeredness, and complete lack of concern for other people in the world is endemic today. I am 76 years old and have watched a percipitious decline in value, mores, and morality, in today’s society.

    The attitude of “if you don’t like it, that’s your problem” is putting a serious rend in the very fabric of our society

    Class is nonexistent. People can’t even spell or use correct pronouns. Their electronic gadgets prevent their having to interact socially. They wouldn’t know how to carry on a conversation if their lives depended on it.

    I was in the travel industry from 1964 until retiring in 1999 and have spent a hell of a lot of time aloft. On the rare occasion a baby started to cry, the mother immediately tried to soothe it (probably its ears hurting from the altitude change). She made every effort not to disturb those around her. Even the stewardesses would offer to hold the child a while. Yes, they called them stewardesses then, they were a different breed from the flight attendants today.

    I cannot recall ever seeing a child in first class. Parents often took the aft seats in the aircraft to somewhat isolate themselves from their fellow travelers.

    Personally, I think children should be banned from aircraft altogether! AND their parents. Perhaps someone could start an airline called “Abhorrent Parents and Horrid Children”

  44. Maria Romana says:

    No hating here, either. I don’t see how airlines could make such a policy, nor should they have to, because any RESPONSIBLE parent will control their child. Yes, I do have children, now fully grown and making straight As in college. They were raised by a mostly-stay-at-home mom and very involved dad, not a daycare center, which I believe is the root of the problem we’re seeing today. When kids spend 80% of their waking hours in a room with 20 other kids all running around and screaming in an uncontrolled manner, that is what they learn to do. When instead they model their behavior after adults who are only unruly at home or in appropriate places like playgrounds and amusement parks, they understand that there is a time and a place for everything, and a restaurant or a library or an airplane first class cabin isn’t it! I did travel with my children when they were young, and it was a LOT OF HARD WORK to keep them quietly occupied and entertained for 4 and 5 hours at a time, but a concerned and responsible parent can do it. The haters are the lazy, irresponsible parents whose children will be running and screaming in their parents’ basements for the rest of their lives :).

  45. Lane says:

    No hate mail from me. I was a well behaved child and my children could have all flown easily in first class w/o being a nuisance. That being said, the airlines have every right to do what is in their best interest since they are all privately owned and travel on them is a privilege not a right.
    Designated sections for children is a reasonable approach.

    Those that have sent you hate mail forget that we have a right to peace and quiet whether or not we sit in coach or first class. Where does that right come from? The some place their right comes from to allow their kids to be annoying.

  46. Ufuk Özkurt says:

    Same attitude everywhere around the globe. I obviously “have” to make children, and thus I shall, then, understand the holy book of disturbing other people, because now I have reproduced… Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia help a bit. Are there any European airlines with an age limit?

  47. Bodi says:

    I don’t think it’s unreasonable that people in business class have an expectation of the amount of “space” or the experience they have when paying far more then people sitting in coach. It is a matter of consideration if after a given amount of time that a child not cry, scream or run around. regardless of age or even if their parents can afford the ticket. You’re correct kids will be kids. I know this because I have plenty. The Airlines are the ones who need to put limitations on where children can sit. A few people that have left responses have been fairly nasty and have accused people traveling solo of having a feeling of entitlement. Just because we have kids doesn’t entitle us to be disrupting. Give the kids a chance to settle down. If they don’t they should be asked to move or leave. Some places we don’t go because the kids are ill equipped to act appropriately. Not because they’r ill mannered. Simply because their kids.

  48. john says:

    My parents never had that problem. As a child I can see it because well its a stupid baby. Literally it’s dumber then a full on mentally retarded individual.

    But toddlers, naw that’s the parent. I know this because had we done anything, screamed, thrown a fit, threw something; my mother would of whooped our asses in front of first class lol. She sure as hell did to my brother in that department store haha. I believe the result I remember was damn near every waitress in the area complimenting them and us on how well behaved and refined we were. We even got free crap at restaurants lol.

  49. Ellen says:

    I also pay out of my own pocket for my daughter and myself to fly business class. We also paid for comfort and luxury. While I try my best to teach my daughter to be considerate to our fellow passengers and respect that most of them need to rest on the flight, as well as keeping her entertained and controlled with in flight entertainment, please respect that her ticket is not much cheaper than yours. I have also paid for our luxury travel.
    If you want to be in the truly special class of exclusivity, you might consider travelling first class suites.

    • Nate says:

      I couldn’t give two craps about what you paid for your toddler’s ticket – it won’t come near what the surrounding 6-8 passengers also in business cumulatively paid for theirs with the expectation that they have a comfortable experience, and who have no desire to hear your children make noise in premium class. Yours is the attitude that necessitates banning children from business and first.

      Kids should only be allowed in premium cabins with the understanding that if they disturb the other premium passengers during the flight, they will be involuntarily reseated in the back and two lucky passengers in coach will ride out the rest of the trip in seats you paid for.

    • Texan78730 says:

      I have an idea: why don’t YOU and your child book into a suite?

  50. Peter says:

    I think it is good the have a minimum age for kids to travel business class. A minimum age of 12 or 14 is ok, in my opinion. Mostly the younger kids a screaming on the airplane or hitting your chair from behind 😉

  51. Mother says:

    I have traveled a fair amount – at least 20 times nationally and internationally – with my now-2-year-old. I traveled at a frequency of about 30 times a year prior to having a child. I sometimes fly first or business class.

    To be honest, parents are the ones who should be complaining. The average joe just catches the shrapnel.

    Yes, it sucks for everyone when a kid is hungry or tired or angry or going through a developmental shift that makes them cry. However airports and flights are tantamount to being designed to make these problems worse, or even create the problems in the first place.

    When airlines and airports make even a passing effort to improve travel for families – give them their own spaces to wait for planes, give them seats where they can use bassinets, etc. etc. – the chance that the baby/child will be able to 1/ nap successfully 2/ get out their toddler energy 3/ not have to restrain themselves from something they don’t understand – goes up astronomically.

    It’s not that hard. I’ve seen good spaces provided for kids in airports. Most airports just don’t bother. If they did, everyone’s life would be dramatically better.

    Asking kids on a flight that’s been delayed hours at the gate – no the kids can’t get off, no they can’t have complimentary food – to keep it together is insanity. Seriously. It’s like asking a disabled person to please not piss themselves when no one helps them to the bathroom.

    It’s the airlines/airports you should be angry with.

    • Travel Agent says:

      PERFECT reply – Travel has become essential these days and shouldn’t be made impossible once you have a family. EVERYONE is at their worst when they are travelling. Tired, shitty, stressed, uncomfortable (and thats before you get on the plane) – and folks in the airline industry (especially passport control, customs etc) are not known for their customer service. Travelling with children is a NIGHTMARE and its the parents that suffer the most. If efforts were made to have a separate line for families, a play area near the gates etc etc, this would indeed give them a better start to being reasonable when on a long flight. WE traveled to Europe recently – a 28 hr flight in economy ( yes my american friends, when you live in New Zealand, we travel some seriously long flights) and although my almost 2 year old was well behaved – me and hubby didnt sleep…..AT ALL. For the whole time. ( My son did sporadically and mostly slept on us). If we could have afforded business class, YOU BET we would have done it. We would have done all we could to keep our son quiet and well behave because we are considerate people – but NOTHING can compare to the hell of travelling longhaul in cattle with a small child. Something needs to change.

  52. Ashley says:

    Hi, I’m a mom of a 2-year old and 7-month old getting ready to travel alone with the two babies and am seriously contemplating spending the extra cash to get us seats in business/first class. I’ve flown once with my toddler in first class when I was pregnant with my second. Behind us sat a family of five with an infant, a toddler and a 5ish-year old. I was surprised but happy I wasn’t alone among the single business travelers. It was a 5-hour flight but not one time was there any screaming. I had a arsenal of distractions for my toddler as did the family behind me. Yes, there was fussing, but nothing that overly disturbed our fellow travelers. With a squirmy toddler and potentially fussy infant, the extra room and accommodations is golden! The extra attention you get in first class from the stewards is so helpful. Re: examples in the article – Even though traveling is exhausting, your children are still depending on you. If you are exhausted, they are doubly so, which translates into doubly fussy, which means you gotta put in double the effort. Sorry but I do it too. Traveling in first class doesn’t excuse you from parenting during the flight or lounge). No one has the right to disturb others. Sure, you can’t always control kids, but even if you’re dead tired, you gotta try out of courtesy for others but also out of care for your kids. Plus if other passengers see you are trying they are more likely to help but making your kids laugh instead of cowering down. Just IMHO

  53. adam says:

    Quite an interesting article, i have 3 kids but cannot help but to agree with you. If I was paying good money for business, one of my main requirements would be sleep. I have had a similar experience where the air hostess just let them run up and down the aisles.

    This gets to my point, In my opinion it gets back to the airline to take responsibility, if the children are not in control and or are loud the parents should be given a warning and if not corrected should be moved with their children to the economy section.

    This should be in the disclaimer on the ticket.

  54. Stephen Thomson says:

    I have just booked 1st Class flights for my partner and our child to Dubai from London. Our child will be 20 months when we fly.

    First class is a huge thing for me and I assume it’s the same for nearly everyone else. I am paranoid about how our child will be on the flight. She is generally very well behaved but I don’t know how she’ll be on the flight. The last thing i want is for her to upset other travelers if she starts crying.

    If she does start crying, I will take her to the areas between classes until she calms down, but this isn’t an option when taking-off / landing. I was thinking about taking something with us, say a thank you card, to give to fellow passengers in advance just in case she does cry. Something along the lines of “This is our first long-haul flight with our baby. We can’t guarantee she won’t cry, but we’ll do everything we can to not affect you and we thank you in advance for your patience”. Does this seem sensible or weird? I think it lets people know that we are concerned about it and don’t want to be affecting other people, we aren’t rude obnoxious parents but there are some things that are out of our control.

  55. Olkolk says:

    I’d say that up to a point you have a valid point. Then again shouldn’t the airline supply with information on where kids or babies will be during the flight? If you pay for thousands of dollars why not demand a seat far away from a possibly disruptive infant of child? Better yet why not buy a pair of earplugs if you are so concerned or even propose a child zone in the aircraft? I’m sure that many would be relieved if they could park their children somewhere for the same money without having to deal with them for the rest of the flight.

  56. Amanda says:

    The part that deserves the biggest endorsement is this: “And the most pompous, insufferable, and insulting comments of all are those that insinuate non-parents are somehow less humane than everybody else, and that those without children exist in some half-developed state where true empathy and understanding are impossible.” It is a type of discrimination that I hate most — that women without children are inhumane. Regardless of why I don’t have children (choice or biological), it takes real arrogance to not see that the noise your children make is disruptive and unpleasant.

  57. Shell says:

    I totally agree with this – nothing worse than noisy children and screaming babies in business class. Airlines really need to consider their business class customers, 75% of which hate children in the same cabin!! Thank goodness something might finally be done about this so the rest of us can enjoy some relaxation and sleep.

  58. Now, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but if one were to play devil’s advocate and substituted gays, blacks, the obese, renters instead of homeowners, etc. in place of ‘kids,’ and then tried to justify it with why people with X, Y, Z, traits (I can’t stand the smell of hair gel, I prefer not to be around those who might have Sickle cell anemia, overweight baggage is charged, why not overweight people, etc…) should not be allowed in a certain place… IMO it’s pretty clear whether the OP is in the right or in the wrong here. We’re all renting space up there… now if this were one’s own plane, then heck yeah, discriminate all you want, we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone… THEN it’s your right.

    • Kristen says:

      What a ridiculous comparison. This article is about poor beviour during a flight that is ruining the experience for the rest of the paying customers. Period.

      • Ken says:

        @ Kristen : The article refers to kids as a whole and makes the assumption in the first paragraph that all kids behave poorly.

        I don’t know where all of you are flying but IME, I rarely run into misbehaved children at the front… or adults for that matter. On average I’m out and about 20-30 times a year. Certainly not enough of either group to think there should be blanket ban on any particular group.

        Again you’ll note though, the author does seem to attempt to make it a blanket ban. It’s not as if he is singling out say, drunk or unruly/violent adults. To me that suggests either personal resentment or okay, maybe just real bad luck in winding up on flights with rowdy kids more often than not.

  59. B says:

    Agree w author. I hate to sound like a jerk, but I recently traveled a cross country domestic flight and both times there were at least 2 toddlers or younger in first, disrupting everyone. I honestly think airlines should offer first class to parents traveling w kids but it should be in a separate section, I paid for my tickets and was irritated the experience was not as pleasant as I would have hoped. People made a choice to have kids and while crying children are normal it is not ok in settings where it disturbs others, period. People take infants to movies and again, they may have the right but it is rude to others and displays a completely selfish attitude. For the author- sorry you were attacked. I find many who chose to have kids get very defensive when anyone suggests that their children can be an annoyance to others and make things extremely personal.

  60. j says:

    Are you people aware the American CIA uses an endless loop recording of a crying baby as part of their enhanced interrogation program?

  61. j says:

    we just had a heated debate about this at the office. I tried to explain to the folks with kids, that while they may be the center of YOUR universe, they aren’t actually the center of THE universe. They were taken aback as if I were the first one to ever say this to their face. They replied, “I don’t care what you think, my kids come first”…… so that’s what you’re up against and that folks, are how millennials got made

  62. SD says:

    What I started doing is behave as boisterously as the children and if I’m asked to stop, I ask them if they have an official noise policy because I’d like to ask for a refund upon landing because it wasn’t enforced on the kids and their rude, idiotic parents.

    And no, I refuse to wear headphones, maybe you should gag your children if they’re feral animals and not humans that should be part of society.

    • Sammy says:

      “What I started doing is behave as boisterously as the children and if I’m asked to stop, I ask them if they have an official noise policy because I’d like to ask for a refund upon landing because it wasn’t enforced on the kids and their rude, idiotic parents.”

      And you think that regular folk around you who aren’t being noisy would appreciate that? I’d rather just deal with one noisy kid, than a noisy kid *and* a lunatic.

      You can try getting a refund if you want, but the airline has the right to allow a baby to cry while still asking you, supposedly an adult, to keep it down. Maybe you should read the terms before buying a ticket (H1 and H17 might apply to your behavior):

      https://www.united.com/web/en-US/content/contract-of-carriage.aspx#sec21

      Folks seem to think that business class tickets buys them some soundproof space. I agree that it would be awesome for everyone, but these tickets don’t cost anywhere close to an amount

    • June says:

      What a complete idiot you were once a whiney irritating brat. Would your parents be perhaps idiots.

  63. AR15x says:

    I always wear Howard Leight Maxx earplugs when flying regardless of the presence or absence of children. They do an excellent job of suppressing all sources of cabin noise. For really long flights with noisy children, I would a recommend Bose noise cancelling headset over the ear plugs, but even a cheap set of passive noise suppressing ear muffs over the ear plugs does a very good job. (That is what I use at the rifle range.)

  64. Nicks says:

    It all comes down to how much the parents tolerate behaviour wise. There are a lot of parents out there who seem to have high tolerance levels (code for ‘ignore’) before they finally intervene, and when they do, it’s done in a very lax way. It really pisses me off!!! I bet a lot of these parents offload their patenting duties to others so they have no idea what to do when stuck with their offspring on their own!
    I am a parent of youngish children (5 and 8) and also a teacher so i’ve seen a lot in my time. From experience, it really is the parents responsibility to teach their kids manners and etiquette. Yes kids will be kids but it’s up to their parents to remind them to behave. It’s not hard, just repetitive, and that my friends is where the problem lies. Some parents are just plain lazy and let them get away with far too much.Babies and toddlers are an entirely different story though as they are just so unpredictable. In this circumstance, if a parent is clearly doing all they can then they should be applauded, even sympathised. It’s damn hard to control an out of control child under the age of 3! The issue brought up in the article is about the parents who do absolutely
    nothing to assist their children in managing their behaviour. It’not just on planes – restaurants, concerts, movie theatres, lining up at theme parks etc Teach your kid some manners!!!!! These people are spoiling it for the rest if us who do ACTIVELY parent! Blacklist ’em I say!

  65. David says:

    Hi,

    I’m the father of a 16 week old, it’s not unlikely I’ll want to fly with him in a few year’s time; when I do I want business class to be available to me…

    …however I will not be surprised (or blame airlines) if an inconsiderate minority of parents result in age restrictions that ruin it for all of us.

    The only thing I disagree with in your article is the idea that this is more unacceptable in first/business class. IMO (and I declare an interest here as someone who makes a return journey every week on an economy-only route) if behaviour isn’t acceptable in first/business then it isn’t acceptable in economy either

    Thanks,

    David

  66. em says:

    Well said mate, some people on here are laughable

  67. em says:

    You obviously haven’t got children of your own. I felt the same as you until I had kids. 8 am flying London to Australia business class with my 2.5 year old and 6 month old and will be stressing the entire time because of people like you. I would never let my child misbehave but sometimes they are scared or simply babies. It will never change, children are human beings and have rights so you may just have to suck it up buttercup

    • Sd says:

      Yes, they have rights, just like I do and since we’re equal, I’ll make as much noise as your kids(and I’ll make sure to wake them up if they ever fall asleep). Sometimes I’m also too lazy to go to the bathroom and poop on the closest empty seat. It gives me great pleasure to tell others to just suck it up and inhale. If you can’t control your child, don’t fly. A solution would be to have people who want to fly with kids pay half the ticket of everyone sitted around them given they make these people suffer.

      • ASDF says:

        SD – You’re obviously an idiotic child for even comparing yourself to an infant. Yes, some parents need to pay closer attention to their kids, but there are times when babies can’t be “controlled”.

    • Shell says:

      So maybe you should be a little less selfish and not take your kids in business class. I really hope some screaming baby keeps you awake on your next flight.

      • badjuju says:

        you realize ppl travel out of necessity and not for vacation right? children need to be hauled to all sorts of unpleasant life events like funerals, major operations, grandparents growing too old to take care of themselves, etc. this happens EVERYDAY. between 1 1/2 and 3 children have very little agency and literally cant control their crying. ehat do you propose these people do exactly?

  68. Alana says:

    This same issue also presents in economy. This year I took 6 flights with my 5 month old son and on all occasions booked in economy and booked the aisle seat next to the window. I chose this seat so as to minimise disruption to the passenger next to me when I was getting up to change and soothe my son as required. I also ensured adequate toys, food and milk ready to go to minimise any crying and subsequent discomfort to all passengers. On all 6 flights I had several fellow passengers remark how you wouldn’t even known their was a baby on board. On 5 of the 6 flights when the passenger booked into the window seat next to me saw me approach with my son I witnessed the familiar site of horror register on their faces and all 5 immediately pressed the assistance button and requested to be moved (this is before I even managed to sit down). My favourite instance was a lady in about her 50’s who upon sight of my son looked frantically around the cabin to find another seat. Spying 1 spare seat she quickly asked cabin crew if I could be moved there (for my comfort apparently next to 3 other passengers in a row of 4 seats). The cabin crew said this was fine and I agreed to move there after take off. The lady smiled gleefully she would now have both seats to herself. However after takeoff the cabin crew suggested as she was so “concerned” about my comfort perhaps I would be more comfortable with the 2 seats to myself and she move. Shocked she moved, entitlement gets you nowhere!

  69. Anna says:

    I am very sorry. Am a mother and countless of times, I had apologised on behalf of my boisterous little toddler. I am not a young mother, more than 40 years of age – just like the many mothers who travel premium, most are “elderly primids” or “mature mothers”. High risk women who had their baby very late in their life. And therefore, unless they were born with a silver spoon, had only just about made it in life and can now travel business or first, have kids and unfortunately have to travel with them. I would be more than happy if airlines provide family premium spaces. I do not want to sit with business men in suits too. I think they look more pompous than I do, and I will have to say sorry for disturbing your sleep. I need the sleep too, but I have my responsibility of keeping my child entertained while I sit in the bigger chair with more room for me to play with my kids. I need to complete the presentation too – I do my presentations at 2am or whenever I can place my kids to sleep. We are career women, not only you, however we had opted to juggle family with career and complete those presentations at ungodly hours because we had postponed having a family for far too long. Should we stop having comfort just because we now have a family ? Someone suggested shouting at those little brats – by all means do so. I cannot do it because I am afraid I will lose my dignity and remanded for being a bad mom who shouts at their kids. I am so sorry again on behalf of all moms & dads.

  70. Greg says:

    Sit in coach bitch.

  71. CP says:

    Unfortunately so much of this is a reflection of the general attitude of so many people these days, the same attitude that has parents rushing down to the school if their kids are disciplined because their little darlings could never do anything wrong and failing to take responsibility because they have such a sense of entitlement. As to the solution well some kids will scream all of the time and all kids will scream some of the time at certain ages. For sure they should NOT be in Business class below a certain age. Our 2 have always been good as gold on long haul but i’m sure like most parents if there was a problem the first thing i’d be worried about was it’s effects on people around me. As some have suggested why not have certain planes with specific areas for families? Surely it wouldn’t be too difficult to configurer some of the s A380’s and charge a little more for parents and kids to sit in an area dedicated to families? It actually would make the whole flight a lot less stressfull for everyone?

  72. T says:

    Dang, hit me right in the feels. I travel all the time as a backpacker. Maybe 12 flights a year. Peace, that’s what I want. As a part of a family with 2 adults being expats, long haul travel is a big thing in my family. 1 or 2 times a year we head to a country as a big family. I love children…actually come from a LARGE family. With 10 children. 3 of which are austistic. 2 are babies. People do cringe when they see us….BUT, the children in my family have been traveling since babies. They know the dice. Id say 90% success rate. If the children aren’t going well though we will generally ask to be moved away to not cause a problem to other travelers. With babies, there is only so much we can do ….and it bakes our noodle too. We also LOVE traveling Business. It’s probably a lot better because at least the children have some space. Being prepared for situations is the key to travel with children. I do agree that a child friendly zone would be great to add to the club lounges or a child free zone?

  73. BP says:

    I can’t believe how selfish some of these so-called parents are.

    Here is what I would do: scream directly at their brats. If it’s fine for their brats to do it, it’s fine for you to do it. Shared space, right?

  74. Alienor says:

    But I find it hard to believe that parents ignoring their screaming children is the norm – really? I have young kids, pretty much everyone I know has young kids, and most of them would be very concerned about their kids annoying other people in public.

    I am part of an expat community in the country I live in, and a very common theme posted on message boards is ‘please give me tips on how to manage a long distance flight/journey with my baby/toddler/twins/etc’. People weigh in with advice on keeping the kids quiet and amused. They also recount good and bad experiences they have had, and mostly the bad experiences made them feel terrible.

    Up to a certain age, we can try our best to keep a kid quiet, but it just does not always work. They get tired and behave badly. I do feel sorry for others, but I feel more sorry for the struggling parent/s. It is a choice, but that doesn’t mean it is easy.

    As for those who say ‘I simply didn’t travel until little darling was well behaved enough not to scream the whole time’ – well good for you, but for expats or those with friends/family far away, this is not ideal – ‘sorry aging granny, you can’t meet your grandchild until he’s five because someone might not have a peaceful flight if I bring him, hope you are not dead by then…’ Or ‘dear brother, I’d love to come to your wedding but my kid might cry on the plane – could you put it off for another five years?’

    Just cut some slack to the ones who try…

  75. Winter says:

    I could not agree with you MORE!! Everything you say makes perfect sense. The airlines should ban kids under 6 or 7 or even 10 from flying in biz class. They ruin it for everyone. The people up in arms here no doubt have uncontrollable kids and you have touched a raw nerve. There are many arrogant people flying with kids. They have no idea or care for anyone but themselves. They are raising brats of the same mindset. I am a parent. I did not take my tiny child in to movie theaters either. I taught my child to be quiet and well mannered. That is a parent’s job. In my opinion if this is a growing trend then special flights must be reserved both for kids only or kids free. Who wouldn’t book a kids free premium flight if given the choice? Those of us at the other end of parenting.. weve done the hard work, now give us a break! Airlines hear our plea. Do something abut it. I also want toddlers with their parents relegated to child-friendly rooms in premium lounges.

    • Patrick says:

      If there were to be an age restriction, your suggestion might be a little on the unreasonable side. I’m thinking maybe five years-old for a cut-off, something like that.

      • Sd says:

        The problem is solved simply: airlines should take every measure at their disposal to remove the discomfort rude parents with children create for others such as creating a dedicated place for children and their parents, entirely sound proofed from the rest of the plane and have the tickets there priced in a way to have parents pay the entire cost of flying their kids around.

    • Kristen says:

      I think it really depends on the kid. I’ve flown with my five year old nephew in business class and he was quiet and polite the entire time.

      • Kristen says:

        I should also note, however, that if he were to act out (which would surprise me). I would act to remove him from the space as to not disturb passengers who might be trying to sleep, eat their meal, work, etc.

  76. Christian says:

    I think that a lot of the comments on here are very offensive and it all comes down to entitlement. You paid for a seat on a shared airplane. You are entitled to nothing but that. If you think otherwise, you’re wrong. so quit crying. For the people that are flat-out annoyed by kids, I can’t even speak to you, because you are going to feel the way you feel no matter what. Same thing for the parents that say, hey I paid for their seats so I’m going to let my kids do whatever the hell they want. That’s BS too. I’m not going to tell you how to regulate your kids, but just do it because we do owe it to each other to at least be courteous. Bottom line is, we need to stop talking about segregating or excluding people, and yes children are people too. Go ahead and buy your children First Class for Business Class if you can afford it.

    • Sd says:

      Exactly and since I paid for a shared space, I hope you won’t mind ill curse your kid and watch porn on my laptop with a high enough volume to cover the whining of your kid. I hope you’re not a filthy hypocrite who thinks your kid should be kept away from profanity and sex given I paid for this shared place so I can do whatever I want.

  77. Barry Smith says:

    If you are sitting in a business class seat and thinking about you spend your hard earned money, just go back to where you came from. I fly regulary in business class in my entire life. Yes, sometimes I take all my 4 kids with me.

  78. Kay says:

    I have a 4 year old who is autistic. I have been flying with him since 3 months. He’s usually a champ about flying but has had a moment or two when he wasn’t the happiest camper and I felt really bad about it. Although I am a parent now, I will never forget what it’s like to not be a parent. Actually, even more so as a parent, I appreciate every second of quiet time as possible. When I am not with my son, I want to be as far away from other people’s screaming children as possible. Sorry, not sorry. With that being said, people with children really need to be considerate of the feelings of others. I agree with there being an age limit in business class.

  79. KC says:

    I am in the same position, thinking of spending my own money to mark the occasion of taking our baby on his first long trip and also wanting to treat his mother to a nice experience. I think we are responsible and courteous people but if the baby cries a lot then I am not sure what we will be able to do about it, regardless of which cabin we are in. At least in Business class we will have more space to tend to his needs and also the ability to lie down and have our meals in more comfort.

  80. Patrick says:

    “Reading this article says that you are better than me, and that because I have a kid, I belong in steerage…”

    THAT’S what you took away from this article? Seriously? I can’t begin to respond to this, because you’ve so badly misinterpreted it. And you’re right, the airplane is very much a shared space, which underscores why the parents need to better control their screaming, out-of-controls kids. You’re making my point.

  81. Sal says:

    “Reading this article says that you are better than me, and that because I have a kid, I belong in steerage…” – How can that be your interpretation of this article?! Seriously, I can’t believe how defensive some of these comments are…

    “my money is just as good as yours, whether I have kids or not…the airplane is a shared space, no matter what class”

    With respect, I think you’ve perhaps missed the point slightly – Nobody resents the presence of well-behaved children on a plane. Parents just need to be considerate to the people around them and quieten down any unruly offspring of theirs as required (whichever section of the plane they are sat in), precisely because it is a ‘shared space’. That’s just common decency, surely?!

    • Sd says:

      If these people had decency and respect for others, their children wouldn’t be unruly trash. My parents had the courtesy not to have me fly until they knew I’ll probably keep my mouth shut and they would have been embarrassed to the point of blushing if I was bothering everyone around me. I assume these days being uncivilised trash makes you entitled, not ashamed.

  82. Jen says:

    I don’t think you’re despicable. I have 1 child, and I’m biased about travelling because my kid is a champ on airplanes. Like me (thank god) she looooves to sleep and the white noise of the airplane knocks her out for the duration of the flight. It’s fabulous, I love travelling with her. She’s almost 2. Have we had mishaps? Sure. She’s still in diapers, it happens. And I do think if someone pays premium prices for business class, there’s a risk that you’ll end up next to someone’s wailing baby. It sucks and I’m sorry. What I’ll add is that parents who ignore their screaming/fighting/obnoxious kids are the a-holes, not the kids. Kids are kids and they do kid things, like be loud etc since they haven’t learned how to be polite functioning members of society (though most 50 year-olds haven’t figured that out yet). I feel bad saying it, but I do think kids under age like, maybe 3, should be banned from business class. Those tickets are flipping EXPENSIVE so heck yes I’m gonna pay extra for some peace and quiet. It’s a rough debate but I definitely see your point.

  83. Donna says:

    I agree with you and I’m a mother of one. I may be a little biased though because my now 4 year old daughter has been on approx 20 flights both long haul international and domestic in her short life and never caused a problem. At home she is pretty noisy but on the plane she is a dream, she sleeps, eats, now that she’s older she watches the movies or colours in her colouring book. The only time she’s ever cried on a plane was when we went to Australia on her first flight when she was 18 months and I took her to the toilet and she freaked when I flushed it, but lets be honest, everyone hates that sound. I didn’t go back to my seat till she had calmed down a minute or so later. Since then nothing (and I cover her ears now). I don’t judge parents with small kids on planes I do however judge parents who sit there on a 12 hour flight to Singapore and let their two boys (7-10years old) fight the entire time and do nothing except say “stop it boys” every so often…

  84. MikeLee says:

    Also, I think your article has more to do about bad people, then bad kids. Kids will be kids, when they cry, something is wrong. If a parent decides to do nothing, that is the parents fault, not the kid. I’ve seen adults who behave worse than my 1 year old. 40 year olds acting like they own the plane or acting obnoxious because they have had a little too much to drink. Should we ban them too?

    • Patrick says:

      “…Also, I think your article has more to do about bad people, then bad kids…”

      This is true. I can understand when babies cry. That’s really not the issue. My problem is with kids who scream and run around unchecked, and whose parents seem to feel this is acceptable and make no efforts to quiet or control them.

      “…I’ve seen adults who behave worse than my 1 year old. 40 year olds acting like they own the plane or acting obnoxious because they have had a little too much to drink. Should we ban them too?…”

      Maybe! Did you happen to see this…

      http://www.askthepilot.com/passenger-shame/

  85. MikeLee says:

    I had doubts from brining my infant to business/premium class, which is why I Googled this subject. After reading this article, I am more than comfortable doing so now. Reading this article says that you are better than me, and that because I have a kid, I belong in steerage. Well, my money is just as good as yours, whether I have kids or not. If you do not like it, feel free to charter your own private plan or book out the entire business class. Otherwise, the airplane is a shared space, no matter what class.

  86. Caroline says:

    I’m a parent of 4 including a child with autism and ADHD so I know how difficult travelling is. I would never subject an aeroplane full of people to his hyperactive behaviour so I did not fly until he was old enough to sit quietly for several hours. The behaviour of these parents beggars belief, and the lack of respect of the commentators below to a different opinion to their own is astonishing. I had always assumed business class was for business people, i.e., extra-quiet, and would never have disturbed others by taking young noisy children there. I fully agree with you – children should be banned from Business Class.

  87. doug says:

    Oh, and thanks so much for telling me exactly how I can express my opions, I bet you’re a real catch.

  88. doug says:

    You’re def. not a parent, and perhaps you we’rent even a child.. they must have grown you in some sort of lab where people can simply order an a$$hole. I would have asumed you were a useless millennial, but your dead-skin feet scream otherwise. You should join net-jets or buy a little private plane, then it could be just you up there in the wild blue yonder. Until then, learn compassion, get some excersize or compression socks or some sun on your dying feet.

  89. Lola says:

    Patrick don’t disrespect first off yes I know how to spell you know not one thing about me ok bunny,that was my opinion on how I would react I don’t have kids but it’s just my opinion,second what do you mean by invading your privacy and space am laughing so hard if you are on a and a baby is also on that plane the baby cries,right there the baby is invading your space and privacy,please think before you write

  90. Lola says:

    I work for a airline and no there will be no banning of infant in class or first class, parents should be allowed to travel where ever they comfortable with there kids just because you guys don’t have kids that why you guys have so much negative things to say am sure if u guys had kids u would be saying dis if I was a passenger traveling with kids and you come to be and tell me o controller my kids I would difficult spit in your face

    • Patrick says:

      So, do I understand this correctly? If your kids were out of control and bothering other people, and somebody asked you to control those kids, you would spit in that person’s face? Really? If you did that, you would be arrested for assault. What makes you feel that you have the right to invade other people’s space and privacy, and then assault those people if they take offense? Is it your status as a PARENT that makes you feel that way? What kind of demented parent would think that way? I want you to think for a few minutes about how obnoxious your comment was. Also, learn how to spell. “Dis” is not a word.

  91. Traderjj says:

    There are also some adults that should be banned, like those that take their socks off and shove their where they don’t belong.

  92. Traderjj says:

    Jab an ice puck into each ear, preferably the kids’, but your own if you just can’t take it anymore.

  93. Traderjj says:

    Use a damn sedative on your damn kids! I hate parents like you, especially the ones that think every damn moment is a damn teaching moment. F you!

  94. Alice says:

    As an avid traveller and now a mother of three young children I’ve experienced this from both sides. Before having kids I remember that sinking feeling when the piercing cries of a baby start up in the middle of the night, mentally shooting daggers at the mother for not doing something to shut them up. As a mother I now know that sometimes no matter what you do, small babies will sometimes just cry and you can’t make them stop. You jiggle them, walk with them, feed them, shush them, pat them, to no avail. They are not being ‘naughty’ or badly behaved, that’s how they communicate. It’s mortifying. You’re totally aware of the amount of noise they are making and how everyone else on board must hate you. And worse than this, you feel sick because you know there will be no sleep for you and that tomorrow you still have to take care of your kids all day, on no rest whatsoever, without a break. On the rare occasions I now travel without my kids (bliss) I can’t tell you how much I enjoy it, and if I hear a screaming child in another row it doesn’t bother me because I know I can stick earplugs in and ignore it as it’s someone else’s problem. Having said all this, there are many things parents can do to help keep their kids quiet on board. With older kids it’s all about keeping them entertained. Parents who fail bring a bag of stuff for them to colour in/play with get bored and unruly kids. For babies, feeding on take off and landing helps avoid sore ears. Hope this helps someone.

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    How does this work?

    The Child

  96. If surely one is going to fly, they would need their peace of mind. Be it business or economy class, the class may not matter. Everyone wants to enjoy. However, it may be difficult to control kids especially in long hours flights. They become restless and noisy. Sometimes, people wish they could be in a position to travel by private jets especially if they had their kids. It would relief the stress that comes along with kids in flights.

  97. Agathe says:

    Screaming babies in long hours flight, is extremely annoying. I fly often more than 10 hours every few months for work, only in economy class to save the cost. It doesn’t mean that I must suffer irritating baby noise all the time. Parents should be responsible of their kids behavior when they bring them in public places like planes. How about giving them cough syrup or other soft remedies to calm them down? Not a bad idea. I think it’s very selfish when parents justify their kids right to scream and annoy other people convenience just because everyone deserves to know that their babies are cute.

  98. Jo says:

    The point is this. It’s called for a business class for a reason
    For people who are traveling for Business
    and need to rest. You pay money to attain
    the stated objective – children under 5 should
    not be permitted in business class. Children
    present in business class detract from the
    paid value.
    1. Wait to your children are older
    2. Choose for first class I know it’s not always
    there but thats just tough.
    Finally people should respect the hard working
    people who sacrifice their time to earn s living

  99. Kay says:

    Hey,

    I actually found this article because I google if toddlers were allowed in business class – as I have a toddler, not that I can afford b-class, I was just wondering as I freak out about long haul flights I’m going to make in the next six months.

    Anyways, you totally deserve to have some peace in business class. Even in economy you should have as much peace as possible. As a mum who’s flown about 20 international flights (albeit most short), I will die trying to keep my child quiet if he needs it – even tried breastfeeding once even though he was weaned!

    Anyways, parents who can afford to take their 6 kids in business class, belong in a class of people, where perhaps they are not forced by economic or social constraints to be considerate of people. So, sadly, your pleas will fall on deaf ears, because they don’t care about anyone but themselves.

  100. Vivian says:

    EXACTLY.

  101. Vivian says:

    I absolutely agree with you. People pay a lot for business class plane tickets. They pay for a better quality experience, and should NEVER have to put up with the utter irritation of undisciplined children under the hands of disrespectful parents who think that just because they popped out these little humans, then that gives them the right to ruin everyone else’s flight.

  102. Mark says:

    What a drama Queen! Decent business class will offer you a noise canceling headphones or you can buy one for let’s say 500 dollars,

    The wine might help as well, kids should be able to travel as they like, they are our future…,

  103. Michael says:

    The problem with this theory here is that you are all presenting this as if your money is better than anyone else’s? The real situation is very simple. If you have the resources to purchase Premium Cabin tickets for your family then that is your prerogative. It is no different than someone of say, lesser means, purchasing an economy ticket and having a screaming child next to them. I am biased as I only fly First/Business with my family, but frankly, I do not feel as if someone should be aggrieved because a child is in the same cabin as them. Money spends the same and brings about the same privileges regardless of who it is being spent on!

  104. Somya says:

    Funny, I came across this blog when I am planning to fly with my infant in business class on trans Atlantic flight. Of course, I am pretty nervous about it and wondering about the “looks” in the craft. I have been on your side before and remember saying that kids should be banned in business class…lol. How things change after having kids :).

    I think one option is to create a separate section for families with kids. If it is not full then hand those seats out for slightly cheaper price to others. So people know what they are getting into before purchasing the tickets.

    Good luck for your next flight and hopefully you won’t travel when I do with my infant :).

  105. sarah says:

    At last someone who shares my views. Totally relate to everything you say. Why should we pay thousands to be disturbed by entitled parents and their unruly kids? If I decided to sit yodelling at the top of my voice, I’d be told to be quiet.

  106. Elizabeth says:

    Why don’t the airlines just issue a caveat to parents when they buy tickets? Or all passengers really. “If you or your kids misbehave in first or business we reserve the right to remove you to economy.” Parents sign a waiver to this effect. Kids are warned point blank when they come on board. Then after one warning in flight offending parties are removed. In the case of kids it would have to be the entire group including parents. Well-behaved individuals from economy can take their place. Easy. Same for badly behaved kids/adults in the membership airport lounges. “This is the behaviour we expect. Shape up or ship out.” After all, badly behaved passengers can be banned from flying. Let’s face it, any parent getting kicked out of business or first would think twice about risking it again. Might make them control their kids better. And if they kick up a stink about being bumped point out an indefinite flight ban is possible too.
    Babies are trickier. I feel only pain and sympathy for the parent of a stressed baby. You might have to suck that one up.

  107. Laney Smith says:

    Patrick I completely understand where you are coming from. I’ve certainly done my time on the airplane with unruly kids.

    I REFUSE to fly coach with my son. Why? I can afford to fly first class. Why would I relegate myself to the back to please people who I don’t care for and care nothing for me.

    However, unless you are in you personal private jet, you will be continue to be subject to children on airplanes.

    Cheers.

  108. Leo says:

    To be frank. I don’t care. Take the first class buddy. Or for that matter take a private plane. Business is now normal class for many many people. I take my kids all the time across the Atlantic or Pacific in business since they were like one year old. Those who give me the look, I look back. Kids cry and quiet down. Crying kids is their language that some thing is wrong. Misbehaving. That’s a different ballgame. Now someone here said banning below age 9 years. There are some kids who are 10 but misbehave. Age is no definite answer for behavior. I have seen drunk 40 years old act crazy.

  109. Flyer says:

    The Airlines have already sold the tickets and got their money, so why should they care if you are bothered?. Maybe someone will get mad enough one day to just get up and grab the crying kids, stomp their brains out and throw the bloody bodies back to the parents. And say to the parents while smiling, ” No more problems, I fixed your crying kid for you. Now we can all have a nice day.” If this were to happens a few times, then maybe, people would find another way to get their kids to where they are going. And not impose their noisy children on others.
    For the guilty parents who read this. Remember, it will be your fault when it happens and that their life was your loss. And don’t say, ” But you can’t control what a baby dose.” because people will say, ” But you can’t control what a crazy person dose either.”

  110. GodricGryffindor says:

    You are right in some cases but 9 & up shouldn’t be banned from first class and why? Because they are more mature and won’t be screaming but I know what you mean.

  111. Mark says:

    Totally agree with the article, but have to say that the only way to avoid this problem is using effective noise cancelling headphones. It doesn’t matter what part of the aircraft you’re sitting in, kids will always be around you. I find my headphones, coupled with the engine noise block out the majority of noise.

  112. Becca says:

    I can’t really comment on long haul flights, but I can say that lack of parenting on any flight can really make you see red. I understand that infants and young babies will cry, and I always have headphones to cancel out noise. The real issue is when kids affect your personal space.
    I was on a flight last year where a 3 year old pitched a tantrum for the entire 2.5 hr flight, and made his presence known to me by kicking the back of my seat FOR THE ENTIRE FLIGHT. I turned around several times and asked him to stop. I asked his mother to stop him. The flight attendant asked him to stop. And guess what? The anxious looking mother said nothing to her child. By the time we arrived at the gate, my hands were shaking from the urge to strangle this kid’s mother. I left quickly, as a didn’t want to cause a scene and get banned from flying Delta.
    I travel very frequently for business, and while I don’t have children of my own, I do feel compassion for parents of infants and small children who are in distress. I find ways to handle screaming and crying, but kicking my seat the entire flight? Unacceptable. If you are too afraid to control your kids on a flight, you shouldn’t fly with them. Period.

  113. Kuldeep singh says:

    I just want to say that I agree with the writer above on his thoughts. I have gone through the grind of travelling with kids (of my own) and its hardly a relaxing trip. However, when I travel business, I kind of expect some comfort but mainly relaxation time to catch up on work or just relax! Is that a lot to expect from airlines for paying 2-4 times the economy fare? I think not. Parents nowadays get easily offended if anyone merely mentions the phrase- can u do something? your kids are out of control.they get insecure and threatened. They then almost always say or mean to imply that- they have paid for their kids seats and the phrase again and gain – THEY ARE JUST KIDS. Oh C’mon, I know that but at least try to control them. They dont even try. The middle-eastern airlines are even worse if you are stuck with one the arrogant Arab families and their useless women who dont even bother to bat a lid if their child is crying. The maid in tow seems to do little more than to surrender to each and every of the kids demands. Its become appalling nowadsys; Business travel does not guarantee you relaxation

  114. Mickey says:

    There will always be good and bad parenting, and always be well and poorly behaved adults. Money talks when it is spent, but not when it isn’t. Although airlines may ignore poorly behaved passengers because they’re getting $5000 a seat to endure that passenger’s tantrums, they won’t notice when you book another airline unless you say so. Speak up every time a kid behaves badly, OR a drunk adult yells into their cell phone. Only by you letting them know what their paying customers feel will rules bend to that democracy.

  115. BillB says:

    Patrick –

    Forgive me returning to this contentious topic, but I thought that this story was worth sharing: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/woman-tells-disabled-child-parents-shut-up-jet2-flight-ibiza-crying-a7197341.html

    This was a shameful example where showering the parents with abusive language and demanding that they “shut that child up” ended up with a sick child in hospital.

    A Scot named Ian MacLaren wrote in the 1890s “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” At the risk of sounding insufferably pious, may I make a plea for kindness and tolerance, even in Business Class ?

    BB

  116. Patrick says:

    What didn’t happen?

  117. Reality says:

    Yeah right. This didn’t happen, keep patting yourself on the back.

  118. Tragoudi Arpa says:

    In the old days, it was not uncommon for parents to give babies and kids cough syrup with codeine in it so that the cranky ones would sleep more while travelling. Pet owners can go to veterinarians and get sleeping pills for pets to calm them when travelling with pets. I’m not necessarily in favor of drugging “healthy” kids, but something needs to be done to calm down the little darlings especially in confined spaces, and if cough syrup helps, I think it could be beneficial to everyone’s sanity.

    There really is no reason for everyone around kids to be suffering shrieking and screaming just because kids are kids. Doesn’t matter how much money was paid for seats. Kids need to behave and be trained to behave. That doesn’t work for little babies/pre-toddlers but it needs to be worked on for everyone else.

  119. Hey Dave,

    Will you and your kids please shut up!

  120. Bob B says:

    Sorry you’re getting hate mail on this issue. But one thing: the picture you’re using to introduce this thread shows one of your fellow human beings in distress, and you’re using this as a symbol of something that annoys you. This gets under my skin. And certainly distracts from the issue.

  121. Wol says:

    >>Noise Canceling Headsets<<

    It's the envelopment that cuts the noise of yelling. Noise cancelling phones can only use a repeating sound as data to cancel out, such as the drone of engines. Intermittent sounds don't cancel as well.

  122. Wol says:

    Here’s an example of the entitlement syndrome in today’s Daily telegraph:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/family/child-free-flights-would-not-be-good-for-anyone/

    It’s apparently everyone’s fault but the parents of noisy children.

  123. CAMERON W BECK says:

    As a fellow pilot–tho not at yr exalted leve– feel your aural pain, yes I do.

    Let me make a deal w/you: If I give you a sure-fire (at least for me) “work-around on bawlin babies, could you give a couple of titles on INTERESTING flights? Not just Tenerifes etc. A flight where something remarkable happened. “Gimli Glider” stories.

    I’d be grateful it you’d steer me toward a book or author..

    So we have a deal? Great! Here you are, my friend, your Days of Sound & Fury are over”

    Noise Canceling Headsets

    There are many out there, but the best is Bose. For one thing their sets ENVELOPE the ear and that is very important. I switched w/a guy on one flight. His were sit-on-th-ear type. Useless. You need TOTAL ENVELOPMENT.

    Does BratSKreech penetrate. A very little. And that finger nail on black board”edge” is knocked off. You”re aware a sound is out there. These headset also knock down the slip stream roar. You can plug them into the plane’s entertainment system Trust me: you’ll love them..

    Interesting flights…?

    Interesting column. Thanks!

  124. Wol says:

    I am afraid that it is part of the world we now live in: entitled parents who have never thought to bring up their children. Many just ignore them and carry on with their mobile games.

    You should not have to put up with a constant racket, whether from children or drunken adults, in economy, business or first.

    But just look at the mess that many passengers leave around their seats – that shows what we have become.

  125. Wol says:

    >>Can’t they build a section on a planes for families with kids that has extra sound insulation?<<

    I believe it's called "The wing". Not sure about the sound insulation, though.

  126. dave houston says:

    Can’t they build a section on a planes for families with kids that has extra sound insulation?

  127. Infrequent Flyer says:

    I should have included in my initial response- My heart goes out to the moms & dads who do everything they can to encourage quiet children on flights! And to moms who nurse their children far longer than they normally would to keep them quiet. I hate how distressed good parents can get when there’s nothing they can do. And, sometimes with babies & toddlers, despite every trick in the book, there’s nothing one can do. I genuinely am all for families and believe that children should be treated with love and respect.

    The issue of kids in F & B classes is a tricky one; and a great topic for debate! And, (among everything else) this thread contained some creative ideas.

    The issue really isn’t with the kids who are genuinely (and for a brief time), in distress. The issue lies with the parents who willfully allow their kids to (what used to be called) “misbehave” in public– and holds even more weight, in a tube, where no one can walk away. Distress and inconsideration are two very different beasts. Flights are a time for parents to fully engage with their children and a rare occasion to pull out all stops (use treats, pre-teaching, extra screen time, presents, games, incentives, etc.) in service of making the journey tolerable for all. And, for older children, in-flight compliance is made all the easier when the kids are already accustomed to adhering when parents ultimately give a stern instruction. Manners only help insure that our kids will be well-liked.

  128. JB says:

    I have like others flown business class with my one child, often to disapproving stares. We have often then been congratulated on how well behaved our son has been. When he was 12 weeks old he slept the whole way between Sydney and Los Angeles. I flew business class before I had a child, and even then, did not notice all these loud disruptive children.

    I have been more disturbed by intoxicated adults.

    I mainly fly Qantas but also United and Singapore Airlines

  129. Miranda says:

    I understand that children so scream and make lots of noise, but you as the parent have the responsibility to look after that child and do everything within your power to stop the commotion. In case you didn’t know, there are other people on the plane who have paid top dollar for their tickets and don’t want to be disturbed.

    Saying something like “oh they’re kids, what are you going to do?” is not a valid excuse to ruin the experience for other people.

  130. Bob Chancellor says:

    Many years ago, my family was booked on a flight from LAX to Hilo. We had 4 children under age 7 and were enroute to reassignment in Japan. Unfortunately, there was a large tourist group on the same flight and those pax had chosen all the aisle and window seats, probably by their travel agent. We were assigned six scattered middle seats. I objected to the United agent that we were a family traveling together. “Can’t help you,” he said. My response was that I would show each kid where the call button was and encourage them to call the crew often. We were all six quickly upgraded to a set of six seats in first class,

  131. Alex says:

    I am absolutely with you on this one. I too pay my business class trips out of my own pocket and as such can do so very rarely. And I think I do have the right for a comfortable flight – and this in parts means undisturbed – flight.

    I also agree that what puts me off most are parents that don’t care. For them it seems to be normal that their kids misbehave. And if you ask them to control their kids, you’re looked at as if you’re not from this world.

    This brings me, however, to a different point which – from my point of view – is directly related: adults that don’t care if they are disturbing fellow passengers. What I am talking about is phone conversations, of course. Some call the Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt the most sophisticated lounge in the world. For me it is the most luxurious Call Center. They have work cubicles – that nobody ever uses. Instead people just seem to think it is ok to yell into phones while sitting in a relax chair – next to other relax chairs. Of course not a lot of relaxing going on there. Within an hour or so I brought to bed kids that aren’t mine, solved a business partners problem that isn’t mine, made (or lost) money that isn’t mine and solved (or not) a marital crisis.
    And if that wasn’t bad enough: now more and more people think it is ok to use Skype on the tablet – with the loudspeaker turned up full.

    People, I am not interested in all of this.

    And: me being quiet does not disturb anybody, you being noisy does!

  132. Hilton says:

    Civiliasation is, well, civil isation. The ability to be well behaved in public. Parents can instil this by taking home obnoxious children half-way through a McDonald’s birthday party or a long awaited Disney movie. This is not repression, it is an education in consideration for others. As if.

  133. Infrequent Flyer says:

    Hi Patrick,

    I think you’re in the clear with your article. You wrote with honesty and humor. You weren’t unkind. You didn’t speak to the parents on the planes impolitely. Your article didn’t include hateful undertones or innuendos about children or parents, at large. You made a clear distinction between the unavoidable occurrence of babies crying versus older children shrieking and screaming (i.e. misbehaving). Aside from shrieking/ screaming being annoying, these behaviors are alarming. Listeners’ first reactions are visceral, as we jump to the conclusion that something’s wrong. While this behavior shouldn’t be normalized anywhere, it should, in particular be prohibited or diminished on planes, where there is no escape for the imposed-upon parties.

    My uneducated guesses as to the reasons behind the aggressive responses you received– A measure of guilt on the part of parents? Defensiveness? A tendency to over-generalize what is read, or to personalize material not intended to be?

    Or, perhaps respondents were reared after the ’60’s and ’70’s. Those of us raised back then tend to have been raised by somewhat authoritative parents (note, I did not say, authoritarian, which implies a dictatorship).
    Politeness and concern for others in our midst were traits actively taught as per cultural parenting norms of that day and age. Disruptive behavior was not considered “cute”, acceptable, or something to be dismissed.

    Your writing-style & form is a pleasure to read!

  134. Jim Houghton says:

    It was a long time before movie theaters started running cards (and sometimes even short info-films) reminding people of the need to stay silent during the film out of consideration for others. Not only did this change in policy result in a few people actually heeding the appeal, but it empowered theater-goers to speak up. If you ask someone to please stop talking, minus the theater-provided admonition, you’re a fuss-budget to be ignored — or maybe punched in the nose. If, however, you’re merely reminding an offender that there are rules in effect, then you’re on the side of the angels.

    Long way of saying, in addition to showing us how to buckle a seat-belt, perhaps the cabin attendants can add “If you’re traveling with small children, will you please shut the little fucker or fuckers up so other people can get what they paid for — as quiet and relaxing a flight as possible? Your cooperation is much appreciated.”

  135. Anonymous says:

    I won’t fly cattle long haul I don’t work as hard as I do to do that so my kids fly business too… And sometimes they scream. A plane is after all an air bus its public transport. You pay for the more comfortable seat and the ‘better’ food not peace and quiet… This is exactly what the flight attendant said to me when my 2 year old screamed continually for 8 hours on an over night from Miami to Manchester … Did I feel bad about it? Yes, would it have been better in cattle? Hell no is just’ expectations upset 3 times as many people.

  136. Dave says:

    I guess you will have to buy yourself a plan and fly it yourself. Please give me a break, I have had adults annoying as well during flights. Kids are kids and babies are babies.

  137. Rachael Tate says:

    I fly business class with my five year old. It’s so much better especially with Emirates. They have about 70 Disney movies, she has a bed which doesn’t involve wriggling around on top of me for 16 hours and I barely hear a peep out of her for the flight. It’s a huge treat for her to get to watch so much television. I’ve never experienced the kids running up the aisle in business class so maybe you hit a few really child friendly routes? I’d hate that too. Parents should absolutely be expected to ensure their kids stay seated and quiet throughout the flight. Babies are a little more difficult sadly. I’d probably wind up breastfeeding the whole flight to keep them quiet then get complained at for that. On one leg of a recent flight I woke to find one of the cabin staff walking a one year old quietly up and down the aisle to entertain him for the parents which I thought was great because it prevented boredom squalling. I don’t want to have to ride economy all the time, it’s uncomfortable and loud and I should get rewarded with business class for raising my daughter to understand that planes are not an appropriate place to run around and be loud!

  138. LennyT says:

    I could not agree with you more, Patrick. I had a similar experience a few weeks ago on an Emirates A380 service from Bangkok to DXB. It started in the excellent Emirates lounge almost exactly as you describe and carried on to the aircraft. Fortunately it was more than a little bumpy (monsoon season) for the first half of the flight and the mother gave them a bucket of dramamine (or was it Calpol laced with vodka… 😉 and peace ensued.

    Other commentators have it right though – this is mostly down to how children are raised and taught the basics of good manners and appropriate behaviour, especially in public places. Too many parents these days simply don’t seem to care. That said, I would certainly favour airlines with restrictions on children in premium classes, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon, unfortunately.

  139. Olly says:

    I think the corollary should be examined: the more expensive the seat the more quiet you are “entitled” to aka all screaming children should fly economy.
    There is no way to distinguish between well behaved children and bad ones. Therefore until there is a way it is very assumptive to just throw them all back to economy. Why should a family that can afford it and choose to fly business class be forced to fly economy? For that matter, why should the economy passengers have to put up with it anymore than business? The fact a larger seat and better meal is paid for is the contract…nothing else. I always get a whiff of “those were the days” from this site and, in my humble opinion, this may get to the core of it. Those that think that business class is still luxury and everyone should still wear a tie to fly probably also hearken back to a time when business class was out of the reach of everyone except businessmen. Air travel is just a way of getting from A-B. Albeit a spectacular one. If someone wants to have more space and better food for them and their children then good for them.
    I’ll put headphones in if a child is screaming and hope that good karma means someone will do that if my child decides to have a scream. It happens sometimes.
    Presumably if more money entitles one to a quieter cabin then any screaming children in First should be demoted to Business Class. After all, those business class passengers didn’t pay as much :o)

  140. BillB says:

    Patrick –

    This is of course a painfully emotive subject, so I’m hesitant to add anything that might be remotely flammable. I have certainly been among those at the gate offering up the Frequent Flyers’ Prayer: “Please, please may I be spared the crying baby on this 16-hour flight”.

    But I’m not sure that Blaming the Parents – and making cutting remarks, eye-rolling or sighing – is very helpful. On the occasions that I have been the Parent (even if not with a howling baby in Business), I’ve been acutely aware of the need to keep my kids under control and horribly embarrassed if they make a noise, bang the seat back in front of them or otherwise make a disturbance.

    Herein lies the paradox; the more anxious the parents become, the worse the children are likely to behave. With this in mind, I always try to focus on lowering the emotional stakes by saying to myself “They’re not Bad Parents, they’re Anxious Flyers and glaring at them is not helping”. If their toddler is hitting the back of my seat I play peek-a-boo through the gap; if their baby is crying I try to distract them with the seat back card.

    Does it work ? Well, sometimes the kids are amused, the Bad Parents feel less anxious and it always makes me feel better.

    Apologies if this makes me sounds rather saintly and selfless – the reality is exactly the reverse. But I know that giving into my immediate rage-filled impulses is likely to make the situation worse not better.

    Bill

  141. Silence says:

    I thought parents’ failure to control their children or teach them manners was an entitled Stoke Newington (London) phenomenon.

    Putin Sr’s sockless feet say it all: “fuck you, this is my living room”.

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if these mannerless idiots would entitle themselves to a private plane?

  142. Disgraceful says:

    Mums say nothing to the children because they cannot control them. Most are dumped in day care from when they are born so mum has no responsibility and teaches them nothing. If she says boo she is likely to get a hit across the face or told off in no uncertain terms. There is no such thing as manners or discipline with a lot of mothers that is why so much happens to children these days drowning in pools, killed in driveways or on the road or falling out of windows or disappearing from home as mums idea is never say No but crocodile tears are shed if anything happens. A caring mother does not have this type of child.

  143. JAMBrooklyn says:

    Ok–So I have the privilege of a lot of frequent flyer miles and some disposable income. My husband is of a certain age and flying coach is physically really hard on him. As a result, we periodically fly business class with my two kids. We started when my oldest was 10 months old, a sleeper and perpetually happy–when he turned 16 months and irritable, I vowed no more until he was rationale. Back to business when my kids were 6 and 4 on a flight in which I made it very clear they would be sent to coach if they did not behave. That threat has continued to work miracles. On one flight back from Istanbul in business class on a United 777, THEY complained about some unruly kids who were playing music and goofing around loudly. They appreciate the refined atmosphere as much as any adult. You may assume I am blind and actually they are hated, but I assure you I have often been pleased to receive the best complement I could receive from other passengers and staff: “I didn’t even realize there were kids in here.” It is on the parents and I have NO problem giving flight attendants the right to move unruly passengers (including drunken adults) to the back of the plane (space being the biggest problem on today’s full flights).

  144. Scott says:

    I agree with you, that when you pay for a premium seat there is an expectation of comity. If a man gets drunk and becomes obnoxious he is removed from the plane at the first opportunity occasionally including unscheduled stops. Maybe this should also apply to families. Unfortunately, parents these days simply do not manage their children. I might suggest the airlines consider a separate higher fee for children under the age of five, and a fine for parents should their children generate any complaints on the plane. An alternative might be to have a limited number of seats for children or families with children in a specific area of the plane with slightly more legroom, places for basinettes and other child devices. If the airlines cannot or will not accomodate, then maybe they should be barred from offering premium class service. There are after all plenty of low budget carriers out there who do not. Unfortunately, for those traveling international long-haul, there are no real options other than air.

  145. Hey,
    I had that same “whack a mole” experience last week with KLM. You know, the 8 month old with his head popping up over the privacy divider, drooling over your side, spilling your drinks and throwing his (or his parents) food all over the place. I’m sorry people, the author is right, the little people have no place in the premium cabin.
    The thing I don’t get is this: Why don’t the parents do a little bit of research on how to keep the kids peaceful on the flight. I mean, they know that everyone dreads sitting beside these tiny tornadoes, why don’t they save themselves some embarrassment and Google how to keep the tiny terrors quiet. And why do they think, that just because they paid more than the people in cattle class that they have a right to expose us all to the same decibels as a heard of cattle.
    We all need to fight this and rather than wasting time complaining after the flight, we need to state clearly at check in every time we fly in the premium cabin that we expect peace and quiet and we do not want children disturbing us. When the family arrives with the cabbage patch, we need to let out an audible groan and give them the stink eye/ dirty looks / snicker or my personal favorite, the old “no, no way, this is not happening, please, for the love of God don’t be sitting near me.” If we all do that every time we fly business/first – hell I even do it in coach – these selfish parents will get the message and consider driving overseas until the kid starts shaving.

  146. Jessica says:

    This is an interesting article. I have travelled with my children since they were babies in first / business and economy. I have to say, I adopt the same ethos on aircraft as I do in a restaurant. I expect my children to behave considerately. I do believe that it is not an age issue, but dare I say it a parental discipline / respect for others issue? We recently travelled home from Cape Verde and whilst it was a basic Thomson flight, it was not a cheapy holiday. However a family saw fit to use the seat pocket for a dirty nappy and allowed the baby to continually smack the head rest of the person in front. I don’t think I would have been brave enough to challenge them based on their aggressive language to each other! I guess you will never be able to choose who you travel with regardless of the class of your ticket or the destination to which you travel regardless of the cost (for me it was like coming home from Benidorm), you just have to hope it’s with those who are considerate to their fellow passengers regardless of their age.

  147. paul says:

    “Asiana is a five-time SkyTrax winner and is considered by many to be a top-tier carrier.” Also, their pilots don’t know a stick from a rudder nor do they look out the window, as evidenced at SFO not too long ago.

    “Experience two: There’s a lot to like in Emirates business class.” Emirates, that’s that airline that relies on modern day slavery for most of their manual labor. You know: import poor South Asians, take away their passports, stuff ’em 10 to a room in barracks, don’t let them go home and see their families for 2 years, and pay them a pittance for doing back-breaking work.

    I know, this has nothing to do with screaming kids. But I just couldn’t help it. Passengers claim ignorance in these matters, but pro pilots really shouldn’t.

    A little more on-subject: I have it on good authority that asking a wealthy Russian to please shut up his kids can land you in a hospital for several days.

  148. Devon says:

    I’m a mom of 2 little ones and I hate the sound of screaming kids including my own… so I hear you …but I would add this: there are just as many rude, disruptive, tranquility-wrecking ADULTS out there in the traveling public so I don’t know if banning babies from business class is going to ensure a peaceful flight up front. I have been on flights with adults exhibiting disgusting and/or loud behavior including incessant burping, clipping toenails, coughing and spitting into a cup, non-stop snorting of nasal secretions, singing out loud from wheels-up to final descent. The fact is that even though you pay a lot of money for business class, you are still using public transportation and all that comes with it. You never know what you’re gonna get but I think I’d take an innocent crying baby over loud and poorly-mannered adults who should know better any day. Then I’d find the closest spa resort where peaceful pampering are guaranteed!

    • Patrick says:

      Thank you for the comment. I am no less tolerant of obnoxious grown-ups than I am of obnoxious kids, and I agree with your basic point. However, the idea that there are “just as many” rude and disruptive adults is ridiculous. I would estimate there are easily five-hundred shrieking kids for every ONE offensive adult. A walk through any busy terminal nowadays, on any given day, will bear this out. Kids are definitely cuter than adults, and they don’t dress as stupidly. But no way, except in fairly rare circumstances, are they quieter!

  149. Linda says:

    Having flown with very young children before, I was interested in your articles. My youngest daughter was 11 weeks old when she took her first flight from LHR to Sydney with her 19 month old sister, father and of course – me. We travelled Business Class (I paid). As we trooped down to our seats at the front of the cabin, I heard the disapproving murmurs, dirty looks, disgusted sighs and felt terrible – although having said that, looking at them I’d say none of them had paid for their seats. Anyway, as I intended, I ensured that for the entire journey my babes were well looked after, and occupied when they were awake. So much so that there was more ‘noise’ coming from some of the suited passengers than from our little patch. At the end of the flight we rose from our seats, gathered our many belongings and babies and waited for the other passengers to disembark. Imagine my surprise when one suited man came towards me holding out a beautiful boxed pen with the explanation that he and the other passengers so appreciated my efforts to keep my children quiet that they had a whip-round, and as the airline had run out of perfume – they decided to go for the pen as a lasting memory of appreciation. And we were actually clapped as we went down the aisle. So, it can be done. It took exhausting effort. Happy to say my two now grown up daughters, fly everywhere around the world with their broods with the same ethos.

  150. peter says:

    worst of all are howling kids in economy, you have no idea how stressful that is on top of being cramped, so count yourself lucky.
    I wear the best earplugs I can get to drown out sound, the cheap foam ones free on the plane are not the best type( the orange 3m foam are poor, the best ones are the moldex spark on amazon) . On top of those put the noise cancelling phones. I cant wear the noise cancelling ones on bare ears as the loud antiphase sound makes my ears really hurt, even though they appear silent. Otherwise I agree you are listening out for every sound and it gets very annoying.
    Two layers of protection mean kids are not an issue.

  151. PSimpson says:

    I hear you, and, to some extent, sympathise. But, from a parent’s point of view, first class offers the slightly higher probablility that the child will sleep. But, probably not. They did pay for the seat (but not the privilege of making everyone else miserable), though.

    My solution? a 10 cent pair of foam earplugs. I carry them in my toilet bag, in my carryon. Several pairs. Even better, is the new in-ear Bose noise canceling headphones. They don’t seem to block human voices (by design? so you can hear the announcements?) but they do take the edge off both the turbine noise (which I find gives me a pounding headache) and the kids screaming. Your mileage may vary, but it works for me. I had a kid screaming his/her head off on my last flight from Seattle to Boston, and stepped off the plane in good spirits, thanks to those Bose phones — worth every penny!

    Airlines could make a fortune selling bags of those earplugs inflight 🙂

  152. Dan OBrien says:

    This is just how it is. All a premium ticket entitles you to these days is physical comfort. You stand the same chance of being exposed to all kinds of inconsiderate behavior as you do in any other part of the plane, with the possible exception of the flight deck.

    In the world outside of the airplane cabin, you at least have the possibility of creating some space around you. For example, you can exit that child-filled business-class airport lounge and find a nice quiet bathroom where people are generaly behaving well. But in an airplane humans are concentrated together with no possibility of escape for hours at a time. I think this lack of options, this sense of imprisonment, is what makes it so utterly unbearable. A tiny bit of physical separation and an un-kickable seat back are all you can count on, and in this new world those are the luxuries you pay for.

    This is the world we live in. Only the very wealthy have any expectation of being treated well all the time. The rest of us must console ourselves that a world that more open and accessible to all is also a world where bad behavior is inescapable.

  153. Hébert Bourguignon says:

    100% agree with your post. Paid for business class on three flights over the past two years. On the most recent flight I found myself in much the same predicament you describe so well above. This has become a rather disturbing trend. Certainly makes me wary to book business class again on my own dime. Part of this has been driven by an ever shrinking seat pitch (and seat size in some cases) in economy which forces families who want a bit more space to splurge on business class.

    And yes, even the business class lounges, which were once a relaxing oasis have become little more than high-end child pre-flight daycare!

  154. Richard says:

    Couldn’t disagree more. It’s annoying when kids are noisy – anywhere. First class, economy class, trains, shops, the street. But kids are a part of life (and this is from someone who, at the moment at least, doesn’t ever want to have any).

    Parents should of course be trying to keep their kids as quiet as possible on planes – in ANY cabin – but sometimes you cannot keep a baby or toddler quiet. It happens, it can make your flight annoying. If you’ve paid for first class, you can afford noise cancelling headphones. Put them on, watch a movie, and get over yourself.

    In particular I don’t see any reason why first class and economy class should have a distinction on that front. A lot of people can only just afford to travel in economy – much less than plenty of people who upgrade can afford to travel in business or first – so why are they less entitled to a quiet trip than someone else?

  155. Wendy jo gunkel says:

    I agree, NO BABIES or children under 5 allowed in first class.. I have 4 children and I would never fly them in first class. First class passengers pay a great deal for their that seat in first class. The whole point in flying first class is to be AWAY from the babies and the loud obnoxious children. Parents who allow their kids to fly and act up in first class SHAME ON YOU!!!!! go to economy seating. Airlines need to BAN babies and young children from first class, that should never change..

  156. JBrook says:

    I have an idea that would keep screaming kids from disturbing everyone while allowing parents to travel in first/business class with them if they so choose: separate the aircraft into child and child-free sections, similar to how restaurants used to have smoking and no-smoking sections.

    People flying with children would be required to purchase a seat in the child section and would not be allowed into the child-free section. The two sections could be separated by a simple curtain on narrowbody aircraft, but, for maximum sound containment, would be on separate decks on multi-deck aircraft such as the A380 or 747. The upper deck (or a portion of it) could be designated the child section. Each section would have both first/business and coach class seats, which would let everyone — with or without child — to have the type of seat of his choosing. This way, there is no way to claim discrimination. If you want to fly in first with a toddler, you can do so, as long as you’re surrounded by other toddlers.

    In addition to preserving the peace onboard, this would achieve two other major goals:
    1. It would encourage parents to control their children. Only by doing their share of controlling their own kids will these parents be able to experience any semblance of sanity on the flight.
    2. It would discourage people flying with kids from booking on any airline that implemented this system. That means it’s less likely to even have any kids at all.

  157. MLee says:

    As a mother of two I both agree and disagree with you. Parents should absolutely parent their children. It is extremely difficult as a mother to see other moms simply look away as their children act honor bound to cause as much destruction as possible. It is your job as a parent to teach your children the social norms of shared space. That being said, parents paying $1000(s) to fly their children business/first class have also paid the fare. I would absolutely abhor to fly with my littles in economy (dear god, please no) so I pay the fee for the same space and quiet as the other travelers. There are times babies cry and toddlers (sadly and children old enough to know better) act in a way that is disturbing to others…It is unavoidable 100% of the time. Not to say it is not still the parent’s responsibility. But sadly, I think this all comes down to simply that. A feeling of entitlement and lack of personal responsibility. Because in truth the adults that act with this lack of concern for others are the flyers that you hate with out their children as well.

  158. J says:

    I am a mother of a 2 and half year old, he is very polite and everyone wishes they had a kid like mine, but alas… one day before he can fully speak sentences only words he started to scream.. scream when I can’t understand him, scream when he wants something he already got and cant have more, or just because he is testing his lungs. I really want to raise a good honest man in this child, polite and with great manners, and when we have to fly in a 10 hour flight which we have done twice and believe it or not while I was panicking if he would cry for whatever reason, we even got congratulated of how a well behaved baby we have. Now that he is a toddler I am terrified that he might scream in the long flight, I am terrified that people would think that I dont correct him remember he is two and half now, and that I try to put my best ‘smile’ as if nothing is happening while he screams for something he wants. I am educating him and cant give in to his whims that has a price, and that price is screaming. I just hope that if I ever travel in the same plane as you are that you could understand that I want to cry even harder than he does, out of not knowing how to change this education that I am trying to give my child, I want to cry when people look at me like if I am not doing anything, believe me I am trying my best, and cry because most of us when we are older forget that we were too kids, well behaved or not Thank you for writing what you wrote, makes my kid look like angel.

  159. Ian says:

    On an overnight flight from Canada to China [in coach] a young child behind me repeatedly banged on the back of my seat. Finally I turned around and told the father that I was trying to sleep and asked him to prevent his son from banging on my seat. He looked at me and in a patronizing tone of voice and said,
    “I can tell you have no children. If you did you would know that you can’t tell a four year old what to do.” He did keep the child under control for about an hour, after which the boy once again began using the back of my seat as a drum set. I called the stewardess, explained that the man refused to control his child, and asked her to find me another seat. She at first said “I will to talk to him.”; but after I told her loudly enough that everyone around knew what the problem was she found me another seat. I hope that father lost a lot of face. I have read that Malaysia Airlines offers a child free zone on some of its flights. And as an April Fools joke, Westjet once announced that young children would be checked in as luggage and fly in the cargo hold; something I would do myself if it guaranteed a peaceful flight.

  160. Nicholas Robinson says:

    Umm . . . what?

  161. Nicholas Robinson says:

    Only a first-class ranter (pun unavoidable) could serve up such experiences in such excruciating, loving detail. Excellent job, Patrick.

    Behind all of this looms the Real Reason for these types of bad experiences everywhere—the overwhelming absence of the human intelligence quotient. Nine out of ten folks are simply micriocephalic, lazy, ignorant, uncaring, petty, clueless, ethic-free, robotic, tinsel-chested, complacent, corrupt . . . In fact, a list of perhaps another 100 or so derogatory characteristics that sum up the Human Biodump.

    Here, it’s “incompetent” that would rule the adjective zone: the organizers at the top who create these so-called “Top-tier” environments simply overlook those issues that tend to intrude into available-to-all-with-money luxury experiences. Viz. some slimeball Russian mafioso with cash to burn buying first-class tickets for himself and his brood and having exactly the same rights as everyone else who paid the exorbitant amount just to savour a carefree luxury excursion. With no concept of how civilized human society behaves in the developed world, they bring their crass ignorance to the party and ruin it for all the other tranquillity-seeking customers who’ve parted with the same chunk of change that they have.

    There should always be Exclusion Zones for small children, but also for the small-headed adults who are their keepers.

    Quite simply, some people should just be banned for life from having children.

  162. Vlindertje says:

    So recognizable and understandable! I came across your post while researching flights for our upcoming trip to New Zealand, visiting family. We’re flying from Europe, which means it’s a tremendously long flight. One we’d preferably make as comfortable a possible, i.e. by flying business class. There’s just one but… We’re bringing our one-year old. He’s the sweetest boy, has been flying across the world since he was 10 weeks old, and has a tendency to sleep most of the time when he’s on a flight. However, being a baby, who knows what he will do?

    Just writing about it makes me nervous already. Not because we generally don’t know how to quiet him down, but because of the off-chance that all of our tricks don’t work. I really don’t want to be that person that ruins someone else’s trip. Especially if they paid for it themselves. I’ve been there, it’s horrible. But I also don’t want to spend 30 hours travelling with a baby in coach – I’ll go crazy myself. So that means the only option we would have is to not go (great!) or… and I think that’s what we’ll do: do everything in our power to make him stay quiet / sleep on the flight or else go walk up and down coach / hide in the lavatories.

    Never thought I’d be the one bringing the baby into business class… Hope I have good karma and won’t spend the whole trip pacing up and down the plane.

  163. RacieTra says:

    Oh my goodness !! After an 11 hr flight to Istanbul from ORD
    With a screaming baby near me and zero rest or sleep, I understand
    this! Now, I am traveling ORD to Serbia in Business class with a
    1yr old!!! Why? Because I want to be in business class, more
    Comfortable than miserable. I can afford it, as a Stage IV cancer
    Patient I feel I deserve to treat myself. And I’m flying with
    my goddaughter and best friend. I’m praying for us all on that
    flight!! And bringing my Xanax. Lol. I absolutely want the business
    Class experience and cannot think how airlines can handle this. Maybe
    a soundproof cabin area?!

  164. TMQ says:

    I don’t think a ban should be necessary. I have four boys and fly with them several times each year, not in biz or first, though I do that frequently when traveling for work and have never had disruptive kids near me. But even though it’s just coach I’ve always worried about my kids annoying other passengers, and their dad and I are probably a little over zealous in efforts to keep them under control. Maybe airlines could have some rules parents must agree to in order to allow young children to occupy seats in those classes. A no screaming, shrieking, throwing objects, etc., rule. Or you may be asked to move and the cost of the tickets won’t be refunded. They have to switch seats with some regular joes back in coach who would be thrilled to switch. Just knowing that may happen may 1) deter people who can’t control their kids from purchasing those tix and if not 2) cause them to try harder to control the little darlings.

    So much vitriol in the responses! That’s when you know you’ve chosen a great topic. You have raised an interesting issue, and it’s really too bad that you receive so many hateful comments.Now, will someone please think of a way to end in flight flatulence? Regardless of class, people (and these are the adults, not the innocent children) seem to feel free to let go. It’s revolting, and it always happens. What should I do? Nose plugs, right? Because I’ve no right to prevent people from letting loose even though it makes the flight miserable for me. . .

  165. Pessimistic Commenter says:

    Salutations Patrick, this is a very interesting topic, and I’m glad that you’ve covered it. However, this is one of the few opinions you’ve shared on you’re blog that I completely disagree with. I’m not endorsing children shrieking in planes, however, I think there’s a very simple solution to the problem that doesn’t involve age limits on planes. I get the feeling that it would be much more efficient and more appealing to today’s low-cost carriers if there was a simple rule upheld in the up-scale cabins of certain airlines that prohibited some amount/type of noise. If the rule is violated by parents, their children, or anyone else in the portion of the cabin then the airline can threaten to ban the costumer or, if they modified their legal policy, to fine the costumer. This would be a good, efficient, cheap solution to the issue at hand that would appeal to costumers, airlines, and airline staff. I think that this is a better alternative, do you agree? -RJJ

  166. BJR says:

    I love this topic! And I think I commented the last time. I’m a parent of a 2.5 year old, which is an age that is in that sweet spot of small enough to require attention, large enough to make herself heard all over an enclosed space. For my wife’s 40th, we took a trip from Europe to NYC, and we had saved and found a great deal in business. I wasn’t concerned for a second about my daughter – not because she’s any different than any other 2 year old, but because her mother and I just came prepared. Now, one kid is easier than two (or god help me, six, Patrick!!), but we had a bag of toys, books, stickers, headphones, movies, etc. We did a rotation – one parent ‘on’ for 2 hours, one off – which allowed us to also enjoy the flight. If we had two kids, then, well, I guess we’d both be ‘on’ the whole time. When the kid got a bit tetchy – simple. Take her for a walk. Show her the galley, the rest of the plane, look out the window, point things out… Really – it’s not rocket science. Within one grunt, one of us was up, because I can completely understand your frustration, Patrick. That’s just bad behavior (on the part of the parents). If I could afford it, I’d fly Biz all the time long-haul – but if I ever thought we couldn’t control our child, or that she would disturb others, we wouldn’t do it.

    And the argument for biz is not because it means the parents can relax themselves – it’s just more space, a quieter cabinet, allows us all to sleep, and arrive ready to go!

  167. Reader again says:

    Short answer: Yes.

    * * *

    As I do not become angry with great sources of suffering such as physical pain, then why be angry with animate creatures? They too are provoked by conditions. — Bodhisattva’s Way of Life

    The Master concerns himself with the depths and not the surface, with the fruit and not the flower. — Tao te Ching

  168. Shiv says:

    As a parent who’s kids are now past the noisy stage, I have a bit of retrospect to provide. While my kids never seemed like a terror to me, it seemed like some adults would just get aggravated over the dumbest things. My kids never screamed or cries but they did get restless. Maybe my tolerance level was higher as a parent. I tried to make sure others were not bothered but some adults would comment how great my kids were and others would ask me to control them….on the same flight.??

    maybe it is time for kid free zones on planes, but some people just get irritated at the sight of kids. Like they popped into this world in a three piece suit and a WASPY passive aggressive code of conduct built in. That said….I do dread the horrible noisy and sugar filled toddler too.

  169. nonoti says:

    @Dwight’s kids must be an absolute delight to be around! *pick your best sarcastic voice*

    And in fairness, if I have to buy noise-cancelling headphones, you can buy duct-tape?

    See, its easy to tell people do something instead of just taking a moment to see if you need to make some changes without getting all agro about it. We all have things to work on, and sometimes those things are being more effective at child discipline because its affecting people around us.

    I would love to blast my favorite music on my high-end JBL bluetooth speaker while flying. But I dont, because I have this thing called respect for other people.

  170. nonoti says:

    @Paul Kemp – I couldn’t agree more. 99% of the problem is parents.

    In the last 2 business class flights where I had my peace disturbed by children the parents paid absolutely no attention. In fact on the one flight the parent just put their noise-cancelling headphones on and watch their movie and just ignored the screaming child throwing a tantrum.

    And it definitely is not impossible to make this happen. I was on a flight 2 months ago where a family boarded with 4 – thats right FOUR young children in business class.

    Those kids were better behaved than some adults! And when a child did become a bit uneasy and or niggly a parent immediately got up and spent 2mins with the child to give him/her attention and/or fix whatever the problem was.

    these children were not some kind of magical kid. It was the parents plain and simple who maintained proper control and discipline.

  171. Mirko says:

    Once I posted in my blog a similar complaint, and I got an outcry from many female readers.

    It’s about education and common sense.

  172. Reader says:

    @ Paul Kemp, I second every word of what you said here.

    First and business classes SHOULD be age restricted.

    Self-entitled narcissists, like the parents whom you have described, have become endemic in many areas of life.

    The hippie generation taught their children to Question Authority. Well, guess what? Those children grew up to become adults neither respect the rules of society nor the boundaries and rights of others. Moreover, helicopter parents seem to think other people must Get Out Of Their Way so that their children has everything the parents want them to have. You cannot reason with narcissists or psychopaths.

  173. KJ says:

    I have to disagree. Air travel is a form of transportation. It is not a leisure activity at which people are owed some sort of comfort or relaxation. At restaurants, concerts, theaters etc. I completely agree with you about children. But airplane are like buses or trains–they are a way to get from Point A to Point B and kids have just as much a right to do that. First Class is just a nice way to get from point a to point b, but that is still its purpose. Of course, people should exhibit common courtesy and parents should try, within reason, to keep their kids quiet and polite just like we should all be polite on planes. Babies, however, really can’t be polite when they are tried and hungry and fellow travelers just have to accept that as part of traveling with other humans. If you don’t want to be bothered by other humans, then drive alone or fly private. I am not a parent, by the way.

  174. Gadz777 says:

    @Paul Kemp…. You on the money brother. I could not have said it better!

  175. Gadz777 says:

    I agree with the author 100%. There needs to be a solution to ensure that there is a quality experience for everyone. Parents need to take responsibility for their kids and the actions of their kids. I HATE it when they just play pretend and ignore the havoc and mayhem that the kid is causing.

    However, I don’t think that there should be a blanket ban, cos some parents do take responsibility and ensure that their kids are well behaved. I’m one of those parents. All of our medium to long haul flights with the kids have been in upper class and I pride myself on the fact that my kids are…. well, you wouldn’t even know that they are there…. even when they were babies.

    Saying that, I’ve been on a few flights where adults were as noisy and annoying!

    One of the comments below mentioned a family section… Perhaps a system like the quiet coach on longer train journeys would work??

  176. Paul Kemp says:

    I agree with the author. I travel economy class, but would be very, very unhappy if this happened when I had paid a premium to travel business. This is not just a problem at airports and on planes, but with society in general. Its called parenting and there are a large number of people who have no idea how to do it. My children have eaten at restaurants other than Maccas and travelled around the world from a very young age and have never been a problem because we didn’t allow them to misbehave. Yes children are children, but that doesn’t mean they have carte blanch to scream, run around and create general chaos. The main issue is the obnoxious, entitled parents who don’t give a damn about anyone but themselves. To the people advocating violence in response to this article, I can see why your offspring would behave in a the manner that they do, after all, children mimic the behaviour of those closest to them.

  177. AlanM says:

    To anyone who think kids should be restricted from Business and First class, why not go ahead and restrict the following groups of people who are also a nuisance to fellow passengers:

    1) People with bad body odour
    2) People who are old and need help with they bags
    3) People who need to go to the bathroom more than average
    4) People who have bad fashion sense
    5) People who have miserable conversation
    6) People who eat with poor table manners
    7) People who get up to stretch their legs
    8) People who put their reading light on at night
    9) People with a cold who keep snuffling

    After all, you’ve paid good money to fly in Business or First, and don’t want to be inconvenienced by any of these terrible character types.

  178. AlanM says:

    Simple solution:

    1) Airline installs ‘family friendly’ areas / lounges on planes (complete with toys, sofas, play pens, cots etc) to make travelling with kids more comfortable for kids, parents, and other passengers

    2) Doing so reduces the number of seats and therefore passenger revenue for the airline (say 5%)

    3) Passenger tickets are increased in price (say 5%) to offset the reduction in passenger volume

    The size of the family friendly area (and the resulting premium in air fares to pay for it), is optimised over time to provide a net overall benefit for all passengers.

    5) Happy days!

    Those against should consider whether they’re OK paying for prisons, pensions, social security safety nets, and disabled-friendly toilets in public spaces. Same logic… just a different net benefit to society.

  179. Scott says:

    If a carrier has multiple flights to the same destination on the same day, could it not be more effective/easier to offer a designated “family flight” where the possibility of disturbance due to noise is somewhat known in advance if you have purchased a ticket on that flight. This may well only be only be feasible to incorporate in the more exclusive classes, but it could be a way to restrict the impact of an age policy on an airline’s customer base.

  180. Nianbo says:

    ”Yes, you are a jerk and yes even for the fact that you don’t want to spend 12 hours sitting next to a crying infant or toddler.”

    Actually, he’s complaining (and with good reason) that the parents aren’t even doing anything to get their child to behave.

    ”As its been stated a few times in these posts, all passengers on these flights have to pay for their seats, not just you.”

    Sherlock would have that figured long ago.

    ”You state that you paid a little over 2500 dollars for your business class seat. What about parents who pay (for a minimum of three family members) 8000 dollars to fly business class and spend a lot more money than you to fly as comfortable as possible.”

    Just because you payed a lot of money doesn’t mean you aren’t exempt from getting your child to behave properly.

    ”I would do a better job of understanding the frustrations that 90% of these parents go through and how tense it can be flying with children that they are doing their best to control and keep entertained and quiet.”

    And the parents he mentioned are doing nothing to keep their kids quiet.

    ”the next time you get a “deal”, use the money you saved and buy you some ear plugs, headphones”

    Noise cancelling earphones don’t block out all of the obnoxious sound.

  181. Nianbo says:

    Why, we have a entitled dumbass called Dwight!

    ”Seriously if I was flying next to you and you said anything about my kids I would happily beat the hell out of you and pay the lawsuit.”

    As another commenter pointed out Dwat, You’d also get your ass dragged into jail.

    ”This what I called money well spent”

    And you’d be on trial for assault charges, so it’s money bad spent.

    ”because at least next time you might think twice and remember that you used to be a baby long time ago”

    No shit.

    ”and yes your parents might not have taken you first class but reading your comments clearly shows that they did a far worse job raising an individual like you compared to the so called bad parents you’re referring to.”

    Your parents clearly did an even worse job of raising a whiny shitwit like you.

    Oh, so Mr Smith was raised badly just because he gave light to the fact that quite a few parents aren’t even doing anything to calm their kids down when on a plane?

    ”An one last remark, it makes you feel so important to play tough talking about a small baby but I’d love to see you having that attitude with a drunk and screaming 6 ft 5 in 300 lbs man.”

    Hey look at me, look at me boast about how much of a drunken, hare brained, egocentric, moronic big fatass I am! That’s me, Dwat the twat!

    What an oversensitive special snowflake you are.

  182. Blocho says:

    There’s a simple solution for all this: sections or even entire flights reserved for families. All other sections/flights should be off limits to children younger than 10. Would this cost airlines? I would willingly add 10 percent to my fare for every flight to ensure children are not around me.

    And by the way, we need a broader cultural move toward disapproval of children being in non-children spaces. If a parent brings a child to any public space and the kid begins screaming, the parent must escort the child to a different locale until she calms down.

    I know this isn’t possible for flights, so how about this: children should almost never fly. Why do they need to fly? To go on vacation? Please – these are vacations they’re barely aware of. Leave them at home, drive, or take a local vacation. To visit relatives? Nope – relatives can visit the kids. I can see only two legitimate exceptions to this rule: (1) if the family is making a permanent move to a distant location, and (2) if a grandparent or something is dying and can’t travel. Then kids can fly … in family sections or on family flights.

    Before anyone asks, yes I flew as a kid. No, my parents shouldn’t have taken my on flights. And when my brother or I started crying/screaming, they quickly bundled us to the bathroom until we calmed down.

  183. RonD says:

    I’ve been reading that the vaunted, greatest jumbo ever made, coolest plane on the ‘tarmac’ Boeing 747 is being phased out by most airlines. I think this discussion brings about a good idea regarding how to utilize the planes attributes for greater good…..and profit too. Make the upper deck 21 and over. A couple rows of premium economy, business and first class seats for the travelers that are willing to pay a certain premium for them….Maybe more airlines besides Lufthansa would start to purchase 747-8’s 🙂 The Airbus 380 could really take advantage of these possibilities couldn’t it..

  184. BostonSheryl says:

    I have been flying with my daughter since she was 6 weeks old (she’s now 16). I have also done my fair share of business travel, including thousands of domestic miles and trips to Asia/Pacific. I see both sides, but I come down squarely on the right of first class and business class passengers to fly in peace – not with loud, crying, unruly children. When my daughter was young, I would have been happy to sit in a section of the plane designated for families with young kids. I spent a lot of time keeping her entertained, quiet, and happy during the flight. But if I had not been successful, why ruin the experience of the exhausted business or first class passenger who wants a little peace and to get a little work or reading done? There’s a reason, for example, some bed & breakfast inns do not allow kids and why most parents don’t take their kids to fancy restaurants – too many kids are naturally disruptive. Don’t get me wrong – I love kids and absolutely delight in being a mom. But there are times when “adult only” is certainly appropriate. So parents, unite!! At the back of the plane, where we can all kick each other’s seats in peace!! 🙂

  185. AlanD says:

    When I was a kid back in the ‘60s my dad was a pilot for a major airline so we often flew, even when I was as young as 3 and my brother was a toddler. Often we’d get lucky and score first-class seats (and later when my dad retired we could even reserve them) but let me tell you both my parents worked hard at keeping us busy. Of course this was back in the days of free food and every plane having a copy or two of Highlights (not to mention lots of other knick-knacks) for kids. Any child in first class was unusal then so we’d get plenty of attention from the stewardess too. So it was never too much of an issue for us but my parents worked hard to keep it that way.

    BTW both my brother and I started flying as infants and learned how to clear our ears from the pressure at an early age. It’s possible that at least some of the loud infants/children don’t know how to do that so some slack needs to be given. That said I’ve been stuck in coach with four screaming infants (in a 747SP) on a 16 hour flight so I know exactly how you feel. What to do about it? I’d prescribe equal does of patience, earplugs, resignation and if that doesn’t work complaining obnoxiously to their parents and anyone who will listen :-).

  186. KristieZ says:

    (Cont. Part 2)
    That said, I find it ironic that those who would ban children from first class argue that the children are a burden and an inconvenience for passengers paying a premium for his/her flight. Yet, they are quite eager to inconvenience parents willing to pay that same premium for the additional space they actually NEED more than that person traveling alone.

    I have logged many airline miles with my boys. I do not recall a single flight with which I was not met with rolling eyes and sighs upon boarding. Likewise, I’ve always received compliments as we deplane. I agree the laissez faire policies of the airlines are despicable, but banning children from first class is unfair, akin to banning free alcohol because of a few ornery drunks.

    Ideally, I would like to see a family friendly airline, with flights tailored to children. As that isn’t likely, how about allowing attendants to pull the “TSA” card…..”Safety of this aircraft is dependent upon the ability of all passengers to hear important announcements. If Little Johhny cannot calm himself, we will have no choice but to have security meet you at the gate upon arrival.” At the very least, reserve Business Class for the business class, and better tailor it for business purpose (i.e. no children, no chatty neighbors, charging stations and wi-fi included, and how about an air printer?! Score!) That would leave first class available to anyone who chooses to pay for it.

  187. KristieZ says:

    Ultimately, this is a question of how much privilege should be awarded for the additional cost of a first class upgrade. It makes me think of the woman tucking her two children into bed in the movie Titanic, knowing the ship is sinking. If you have money, you deserve to have your children live. If you have money, you deserve to have peace and quiet during your flight. (Now before I’m chastised here, I’ve been around the blog block enough to know exaggeration for the sake of humor is often lost on blog readers, so allow me to clarify that I KNOW they’re not comparable.)

    My point is, there are some amenities that should inherently be afforded to ALL passengers, such as lifeboats and a reasonable noise level. The coach passenger does not deserve to deal with unruly children any more than the first class passenger. Nor does the person on the train, or on the bus, or at the restaurant, or in the doctor’s office. In a world of “affluenza” or lazy parenting or both, I am thankful for the likes of Mr. Patricks who have the nerve to call these parents out. I wish I did and I hope more will. Infants are a slightly different story, but having made multiple coast-to-coast flights annually when my boys were only months old, even infants can be calmed in many situations. (Continued)

  188. Mary says:

    I grew up an a very large family. Chaos was the norm in any situation, even in church, where we were asked to leave after my kid sister dragged a kid up to the altar, then punched the kid in the nose, drawing blood. If kids can be tossed out of church, they can be tossed off the airplane. Preferably before takeoff.

    Airlines need not ban children. All they have to do is add a per child behavior surcharge. If the child behaves, the parents get either airline credit or the fee is returned. If several children are involved, should any one of the children misbehave the fee is forfeited.

    There could be a chart:
    Behavior that warrants a warning, no charge.
    Behavior that warrants a second warning or legitimate passenger complaint, 50% of fee is forfeit.
    Behavior that warrants a third warning or complaint, 100% forfeit.
    Behavior continues, accompanying adult passengers are flagged and for one year must pay and adult enabler surcharge for every flight regardless of whether or not they are flying with children, regardless of distance or duration.
    Should said passengers choose to fly with children again, the surcharge is added to the adult enabling fee.

    At some point, these people would be better off taking a private jet.

  189. Jeffrey N says:

    I agree with the author’s comments 100%. there are more parents whose behavior should change than there are airlines, so perhaps they could take some action to fix this. For example, they could end the discount on children’s airfares, have quiet zones (a la Amtrak) in the air and on the ground and have “adult swim” zones in the lounges.

  190. NancyT says:

    I happily say “ditto” to JenK’s comments; especially the part about traveling parents’ responsibilities. Just like we mentor our wee ones on how to eat with a fork or to use good manners, we must also work with them, actively and throughout the entire trip, on how to behave on an airplane. My toddlers did not kick the seat in front of them, or pop their heads up ‘whack-a-mole’ style (good one, Patrick Smith) to stare at those behind them. When you travel with kids you cannot relax and read/sleep if your kids are awake. Snacks and new toys are great. Working constantly to entertain your children and praising them for good behavior is huge. So is the preparation before the trip with repeated discussions re: behavior expectations and about respecting the rights of others. I get so frustrated with parents who don’t at least try. Worse, I can’t stand parents who give that ‘children-will-be-children’ shrug or the ‘whatcha-gonna-do-isn’t-my toddler adorable’ look. If parents are truly trying hard, and came prepared with supplies, then I will sympathize and offer kind words of support when the baby cannot stop screaming. THAT I understand. Thanks Patrick for the blog post.

  191. Ian says:

    And why should we peasants in economy get stuck with the brats who don’t behave just because we don’t have enough money to travel first class? Seriously though, there are children who behave and children who don’t just as there are adults who behave and those who don’t; and I have often made a point of complimenting parents whose children have behaved on a flight. The airlines tolerance for misbehavior may be waning, kudos to the United Airline crew who turned the plane around and kicked off a woman and her child when she wouldn’t keep him from running up and down the aisle [even though the woman was a member of a well known Canadian band]. Likewise the ejection of an American woman and her autistic daughter after the mother threatened that her daughter would become violent if she didn’t get a meal she wasn’t entitled to get.

  192. Jen K says:

    I guess I’m either extremely lucky or extremely courteous. I have been travelling with my son since he was 2 months old. He’s 4 now and travels like a dream. He’s never had a meltdown on a plane and I think that boils down to a few things: 1. plenty of food/drink on hand, 2. new toys to surprise and delight, 3. Kindle Fire loaded with kid-approved videos and games (screen time limits be damned). Doesn’t hurt to offer the people in front of us a complimentary beverage…..:)

    I agree. Travelling with children is crappy. Figuratively and literally. Then again as a parent i work REALLY hard to make sure my little one knows what is ok and what isn’t ok. If he were to have a complete meltdown I’d take him back to the galley or in the lav until he calmed himself. I’d hate to be banned from first class because of parents who don’t try. If a parent is trying their hardest to calm the kid, does that count for anything? We had to fly two days after I had my appendix removed. We upgraded to first class so I would be more comfortable. We got looks….judgmental ones.

    Here’s another thought: Instead of blaming the parents for bring their kids into these ‘sacrosanct’ areas consider this…Maybe if airlines weren’t doing so much to make economy SO UNCOMFORTABLE with zero leg room or space for a toddler to play at their parent’s feet, you wouldn’t see so many families trying for more space to breathe in the business and first class sections. Just saying.

  193. dmac says:

    Not to go all “back in my day” but back in my day there was a sentence I remember hearing more than once: “you’re too young too fly.” I remember at the time thinking it must be some kind of airline rule or federal law, but it was just my parents exercising some preventative care. I was an unruly kid, prone even to bratiness when things weren’t going my way. During those years our family vacations–to the beach, to visit relatives–were road trips. Later on when I aged out of the meltdown phase, we started flying as a family and it was stressed in no uncertain terms that acting up in any way would send me right back down to the no-fly zone. I was so cowed, flying was such an event–one that my folks always dressed up for–that it was like I was being given a pass to a magical adult world. And so I was. And I was not going to jeopardize it. Today, of course, most people treat flying as little more than catching the downtown bus. But however common place it seems, it is still an event. You are defying the laws of gravity, hurdling through the atmosphere in a sealed aluminum tube at 600mph. That kind of magic should be treated with respect, as should those who make it happen, assure our in-flight safety and take the ride with along with us.

  194. Josh says:

    I love how so many of the hate mail directed at Patrick claims that the parent who has paid $2500 x 4 (or whatever) has the right to “enjoy” their flight. Um, no. Patrick paid his $2500 too. The difference is, Patrick is sitting quietly, watching TV, sipping a drink, picking his hangnails, whatever, and not bothering anyone else.

    Paying $10,000 as a family doesn’t buy the right to annoy other people. It buys the right to do exactly what Patrick and all the other well mannered travelers do when they are lucky enough to afford a pleasant environment in the front of a plane.

    And to everyone who claims that Patrick’s position is “hateful” or “sad”: We were all kids once. Wouldn’t we be mortified to find out that we had been so obnoxious on an airplane as to ruin someone’s flight? I hope to God that my parents didn’t let me scream my head off.

    Parents might not be lonely (since they have kids as accessories), but those who cannot teach their kids to behave are more certainly sad.

    Patrick, please keep fighting the good fight.

  195. Saranda says:

    Hahahahaha! I wholeheartedly agree. Thanks for putting to paper what I always think. People are incredibly unaware of how they can affect others around them and it is certainly a sad state of humanity these days. it’s the land and air of the lawless and crassness now, and the fact that you received hate mail about this is mind boggling.

  196. Jennifer. says:

    So, which is angrier – a lawnmower or a tornado?

    As for the lounge problem, Alaska Airlines has a great solution. If you want to be noisy, go to the upper level. If you want quiet, stay on the main level. They’re really good about enforcing this and you often see large family groups with small children walk in and immediately go to the elevator to go upstairs.

  197. JamesP says:

    Yes, I think children under 12 should not be allowed in Bus. or First. And it should be made clear that children over 12 will be expected to behave.

  198. frequentflier says:

    …How about empathy for your own children, for whom long-haul travel is a torture? Kids, especially infants, often have problems equalizing the air pressure on planes, resulting in serious ear pain (hence a lot of the screaming). Not to mention that their time horizons are different from those of adults – how would you like to sit on a plane for the subjective equivalent of, say, 36 hours at a time?

    And nope – the rest of us have no interest whatsoever in your super adorable little mini-me. Get over yourself and think of the people around you, including the kid.

  199. RonD says:

    BTW, I own Cockpit Confidential and I also read your weblog a lot to help me get over my fear of flying before my Honeymoon a few years ago. So thank you for that Mr. Patrick

  200. RonD says:

    No they shouldn’t be banned. But I believe the airlines that create ‘quiet’ zones in their upper classes (soundproof room is brilliant!) will quickly develop a following of very loyal travelers. As a parent of a two year old who has traveled both to Europe and Asia from SFO (Asia in business class) , I think parents have a responsibility to keep their children quiet on planes and the staff should take a stronger stand in holding parents accountable. Banishment from the upper classes or from the airline entirely for a period of time, five years maybe? 🙂
    Parents might, just MIGHT be willing to do more to pay attention to their children.
    After all, flying in a plane is not normal circumstances, and parents should recognize that and act accordingly.

  201. RM says:

    (cont part3) In addition, many of the so-called premium seats are exit rows, and you cannot have a child in any of those seats. So, we did the unthinkable thing of purchasing 3 first-class tickets. Yup- sorry, but we did. When I was childless, I felt very much the same way you did. I always managed to get seated next to the screaming baby, and that wasn’t even First-class. But, I’ve been broken-in and am a full-fledged parent. I actually feel the decision to have our son in first-class was based on an educational guess (except that unknown factor still exists.) I also think the staff would be better equipped to handle this in the event the entire carry-on of coloring books, trains, tablet,etc begins to fade. All we can do is hope, and a little bit of toddler bribing can go a long way! I will let you know how it all works out 🙂

  202. RM says:

    (cont part2)So, you are so happy when they call your section, and jump up, gather all of the carry-on’s (and the stroller that you knew would have to be checked at the gate so they wouldn’t damage it in the regular cargo area), and lug the car seat, while carrying your infant (yes, this is somehow possible.) You finally get into the plane, after saying ,”excuse me” 25-30 times as you squeeze through the aisle with all of the above, then figure out how the heck the car seat buckles into the seat. Phew! Right? Not so fast, this is when your child decides to mess their diaper. After take-off, he was a bit fussy but did pretty well. We had coach seats, and the only big problem was that he kept kicking the seat in front of him. He was able to reach because he was in his car seat and as everyone knows, the pitch on coach is almost into the negative digits at this point. Fast forward to yesterday, we are again planning the same trip cross-country. He is now 4. Fortunately, we don’t need a stroller, car seat, diapers or formula. But, now we have an active young boy. We hashed it out, and felt the biggest difficulty would be bringing enough things to keep him busy, and keep the seat in front of him as far away as possible (i.e. no kicking.) We checked prices on the premium seat upgrades that have more room, but found they were very close in price to first-class.(cont)

  203. RM says:

    Hey there. I came across your post as I also googled, “travelling with children in first class.” I got a few chuckles out of your article. I think until (or if) you are ever faced with travelling with children, you may never comprehend the reason, “why?” I have a 4 year-old son who has only been on an airplane one time before (twice counting return) on a cross-country flight. He was 1 1/2 at the time. In addition to the horrendous task of lugging a stroller, car seat, suitcases, carry-ons, formula and snacks, diapers, wipes, and any other thing you could dream of, going through security, etc, etc, we had to deal with the unknown factor of the ,”what-kind-of-day-will-our-son-have-today?” One will never know or could prepare for the fickle behavior of an infant or toddler! You could do everything right, but somehow they cry because their sock isn’t on properly. Or, you took away the toy that was too big to bring on the plane that they were playing with before you rushed out the door with the whole smorgasbord of all things baby. Anyway, by the time you make it to the gate, you are already frazzled. And, that’s exactly the time your child decides they want to go and pick up the dirty tissue someone left on the floor and won’t be still until they almost do, until you actually have to pick it up first before they do. (continued in comments)

  204. John says:

    Any passengers under 8 should only be allowed on a plane as checked baggage.

  205. Jim Cwan says:

    This was my experience back in 1989. I was flying from Frankfort to Washington Dulles on a Lufthansa DC-10 in coach (yep I could only afford the cheap seats back then). Among my fellow passengers was an American family of four, Dad, Mom, infant and son of perhaps six or seven years.

    Once we left Frankfort and the Fasten Seat Belts sign went off, this kid ran amok! Running up and down the aisles, jumping up and down on seats and infuriating everyone. But when he invaded the coach galley, the flight attendants had had enough. One of them grabbed the kid by the collar, hauled him back to his parents and told them in no uncertain terms to keep him in his seat or else. The rest of the flight was delightful.

  206. Patrick Wright says:

    I was once in a very old movie theater. At the back there was a glassed in box with a couch and speakers inside. The owner told me it was a crying baby room, soundproofed so well that the movie sound had to be piped in.

    So how’s about it Emirates? How about this for your fancy A380s?

  207. Erich Schmidt says:

    Patrick – too many people won’t control their kids, as vividly described in your original post and your July 1 update. It is appalling. I have 2 kids, 6 and nearly 4. I do not tolerate this type of behavior, but I’m not a strict, drill sergeant either. My kids get all kinds of time to be kids, but they’re not allowed to be rude, whether at home or (particularly) in public. As you said, babies — what can you do? But toddlers can be managed, and should be.

  208. Mark Maslowski says:

    Hi Patrick –
    I agree with you for the most part but I think subjecting coach passengers, who don’t have the means to fly any other way, to even more discomfort is not the answer. The airlines need to step up and take some responsibility. They ultimately are accountable for what happens on their aircraft and in the parts of the terminal under their control. I can guarantee you that if, on my next flight, I spend 2 hours running up and down the aisle screaming at the top of my lungs, there would be serious action taken in flight and on arrival. Why should the parents care or do anything about it if there are no consequences?

    • Patrick says:

      I agree that carriers should take a stronger role. When I was on that Emirates flight, a flight attendant actually thanked me for saying something to the mother of those unruly kids. She told me that Emirates staff are ** not allowed ** to confront passengers if their kids are misbehaving!

      I wrote to Emirates three times asking them to comment on, or clarify, this policy. They did not respond or acknowledge my queries (which is especially irritating because I’m a Platinum member of their frequent flyer program).

  209. John says:

    Hi Patrick,
    I am sorry for the reaction some folks have had towards you. I am sure if they were facing you they would be a little more cordial.

    This is not an all or nothing type question.
    Young children must travel with their parents and if those parents want to use their money or status to upgrade to a premium cabin they can and should be allowed to.

    The issue then becomes one of entitlement and from that behavior.
    When you have a parent who instills a sense of entitlement in their children it usually results in bad behavior and creates spoiled brats and it is made worse when the parent stops caring and lacks the desire to instill manors in their children to show respect to those around them.

    I have empathy for a parent who has a child who wont stop crying and have seen some amazing parents doing what they can to not annoy those around them regardless of what part of the cabin they are in.
    I have also seen the parents who let their children run around causing chaos including tripping people and making a complete mess.

    On the other hand I have had some very rude adults act worse than toddlers during a few flights including those up front who you think might know better. (No none of these people had any disability or exhibited signs of autism or the like it was just general bad manors and entitlement syndrome)

    What I think we need is a general reset on gold old fashioned manors and general respect and if that happened then this would not be a topic or issue.

  210. William says:

    Love how all the people commenting that you’re lonely, sad, and un-empathetic usually also happen to be mothers travelling with their [golden, adorable, angel-like] infants in business and first. Don’t take their comments to heart, you do not come across as sad, lonely or un-empathetic. Perhaps it is simply a mothers instinct to react this way when they’re told that their little angels in fact not are little angels?

    In any case I agree, but must say (in a very biased manner) only to a certain point. I have been travelling alone in Business Class from the age of 13, so the question is, where do you draw the line? And would the airlines really want to draw a line when they would, at the same time, be losing customers who in fact can control their children?

    Nice article.

  211. Been there, had it... says:

    I have no problems with kids who will be kids. I do take objection to parents who won’t be parents.

    Three true tales:

    1)Flying DEN-SFO on United about 1995, a group of 12-15 high school girls on a sports team boarded during NBA Playoffs. As we waited to leave the gate, they were screaming (yes) the scores as they listened on their Walkmans. It got to be too much, so I stood up, turned around and said, “Hey, we don’t want to hear this…put a sock in it!” The humiliated chaperones soon restored order. The little old lady next to my wife leaned over…”Please thank your husband.”

    2) Last year, SFO-LHR night flight on Virgin, a 2-3 year old ran up and down the aisle for 2 hours, chased by her mother until, I guess, the kid exhausted herself.

    3) I work at a large commercial site which has a very pricey on-site day care center, about 2 miles, crow-wise, from the end of 28R at SFO. A property manager informed me that a number of parents had banded together a few years ago to try to get the Corporation (who “pays a lot of taxes”)to lobby for altering flight paths out SFO, because their precious ones couldn’t nap.

    I can put up with the occasional fussy kid, but not with parents who feel entitled, by virtue of a paid fare, to subject others to their poor parenting habits, or to demand accommodation for their neglect at the expense of others.

  212. Julie Adamik says:

    I agree with you 100%!! There should be an age limit to fly in premium class. For those who complained about YOUR behavior and comments just think how they would feel if an adult spent an entire 13 hour flight singing, loudly, off key…. They would be the first ones complaining that you are ruining their expensive travel experience!

    • Patrick says:

      I’ve thought of this comparison as well, but, to be fair, it’s somewhat apples and oranges. The argument would be that kids aren’t doing it intentionally, and for the most part can’t help themselves.

  213. Rachel says:

    The fact that you responded with such vigor and anger only supports the fact that you are indeed a sad and lonely individual who needs to convince himself otherwise. I wouldn’t wish you on anyone however, so good luck on your lonely endevour through life!

    • Patrick says:

      You know, with respect to the experiences that I describe in this post, I am sure that I was one of many people who felt exactly the same way. Are we all “sad” and “lonely”? I just happen to be the one writing about it, because, well, that’s what I do and that’s what this site is for.

      Angry? You’d be angry too if somebody you’ve never met or spoken to had the gall to make obnoxious presumptions about your life and diagnose your failures as a human being — based on a disagreement over airline policy!

      I mean, really.

      • Rich says:

        Relax, Patrick. You are attempting to defend yourself against an onslaught brought by the ‘precious snowflake’ club. It is a club where their children are special snowflakes and can do no wrong. As a father of an 11 year old, when we fly, eat out at a restaurant, or simply go grocery shopping, a certain level of manners has always been impressed upon him and, while he doesn’t always meet the expectation, he comes damn close.

        But nowadays, when we fly, my son will even look at the children aboard the flight and shake his head. And this is from an unwashed commoner in coach. If I had paid for business or first class, my expectations of myself, my son, and my environment around me would be even higher. And we always have my lovely wife to keep us both on the straight and narrow.

        It isn’t just flying. Whether it’s at a movie theater, a restaurant, or even on a walking/biking trail, there are no expectations from the parents, and the children seem to enjoy the free reign to impose themselves on others. Good luck. Stiff upper lip, chap.

  214. Rachel says:

    I came upon this article by googling ‘flying with infant in arms in first class’ because I am considering to do just that and wanted to get a feel for how it was regarded. I hope my very well-behaved-not to mention incredibly charming and adorable 18 month son does not get any dirty looks from the likes of sad lonely people such as yourself’when we fly first class next week.

    • Patrick says:

      I don’t want misbehaved kids screeching and shrieking in my ear after I paid thousands of dollars to be comfortable, therefore I am “sad” and “lonely?” What an ignorant, presumptuous, and asinine thing to say. Once again, without fail, somebody who disagrees on this topic insists on making it a personal thing. Can’t you just stick to the actual issue?

  215. Jules says:

    I feel torn between understanding it must have been horrible for you, I really do.
    But you come across as such a bitter hard person with no sympathy; the way you describe the parents and children is absolutely horrid. I would never want to travel with a person like you.

    • Patrick says:

      Here we go again. Why do dissenters on this topic insist on making this a personal thing? Why? Just stick to the topic. You wouldn’t want to travel with “a person like [me].” What does that even mean? How much do you know about me, really? How exactly does my reporting on this topic make me such a terrible person? It seems to me that certain people just cannot bring themselves to admit that allowing their kid to scream and run amok, impacting everybody around them, is not acceptable. And so it must be my fault and my weaknesses as a person.

  216. Nianbo says:

    Genius! Good idea Martin!

  217. David says:

    Right, he is entitled because he doesn’t bend over to accomodate your selfish choices. Makes perfect sense.

  218. EAA says:

    Wow. You come across as sn incredibly un-empathetic person. Would hate to travel with you. FWIW – I will fly business with my infant. Because I can.

    Mom.

  219. Gerald Wysoczynski says:

    I recently experienced the same experience flying out of DBX to the US on Emirates. I use to work for a major US carrier in the 80’s and then, you had to be 10 years old to fly up front. I really think this policy should be brought back into effect. I paid 14K for two last minute tickets and I had to endure almost 16 hours of hell due to an unruly child under 3 and parents who really didn’t care. I’m in search of an airline that tries to accommodate the majority of the passengers, not the other. I love children and I have two of my own but I would never dream of taking them premium class out of respect for my fellow passengers. Even though they are very well behaved and raised. I think the last part of the last sentence is the key here. Gerald

  220. Rusty says:

    Dear Partick,

    As a solo traveller I hate kids on planes despite having two of my own, but good noise cancelling headphones and a tolerant attitude goes a long way to diminish your hardship caused by your over inflated sense of entitlement.

    I have two small children and have flown long haul business with them frequently. Currently writing this from the DXB first lounge. My kids have laughed, cried, screamed and we may even have a tantrum brewing but by and large they travel like absolute champions and I am proud of their overwhelmingly good behaviour. But in the event they are having a hard time, I only hope you are seated next to us.

    I do agree that lack of control over bratty bastard kids is an issue, but this as you indicated is a deeper issue associated with general poor behaviour of passengers and is not exclusive to parents.

    Travelling with kids is hard enough and we feel every death-stare and sincerely wish and try for a smooth ride. But now I have read your post, I will be far less concerned by what other passengers think of us. Thankfully however we see more empathy and support, making the journey easier and more pleasant for all.

    Perhaps it’s time you flew in a private jet, where you make all of the rules. Otherwise, you are just on fancy public transport like the rest of us.

    • Patrick says:

      You know, Rusty, that was a decent and thoughtful letter, but you just couldn’t resist, could you? You had to throw in that one nasty line: “But in the event they are having a hard time, I only hope you are seated next to us.”

  221. CeiCei says:

    Patrick-

    I thank you for bringing this up. It is a sensitive topic, but I complete agree. I am weekly traveler and just came across country on a redeye. I was upgraded and had a mother with a lap child and a 4ish year old seated in front of me. The mother was demanding and rude to the flight attendants, her children were terrible and she had no control. After the 4 year old tossed popcorn at the gentleman behind her and was told to stop she threw the mother’s beer glass at the wall and shattered it on the bulkhead. I was appalled at how little control she had and her attitude made me wish for an age limit in first. I felt so sorry for the flight attendants who had to clean up glass, beer and many other objects. I wish parents would not make excuses, mind their children and when they have issues be pleasant to those helping and apologetic to those around you.

  222. Everything's Eventual says:

    I have a 2 year old kid and sometimes no matter hard you try you cannot get them to stop crying. Even as parents it is sometimes difficult to understand what is troubling your child. Till kids are about 3 years old (or in some cases younger) they cannot explain what their problem is and the only way they can express is by crying. Also, by nature kids find it very difficult to sit in one place for a very long period. Kids are not conscious so many times they have no idea how their behaviour is affecting people around them. We should learn to cut them some slack…But yes, parents who do not take any effort to control their kids are wrong. Parents can always try to pick up their child and take a walk to calm them down, give them some candies ( this can back fire as the kids might want more candies) or try something. But if the kids do not keep quiet even after all this effort then you just need to suck it up I guess. Blanket bans are not the solution. What if an autistic person is seated in business/first class and he/she throws a tantrum. Are you going to propose to ban them? What about overweight people in economy class (a vast majority of overweight people can control their weight if they just get off their b****)? How about completely banning alcohol just because few times some passengers got drunk and misbehaved? And finally how about banning rich people from first/business class because they abused the crew or acted all high and mighty?

  223. Dawn says:

    Sorry you had an absolute horrid time in your business class/first class flight. I’m a mom, but even before I had kids I could always handle crying babies, only because I understand babies and toddlers don’t really know how to express their emotions verbaly as well as older children do. So I let the crying babies and toddlers pass, older kids however that act like brats and parents don’t do anything about that’s a different story. My son is 3 and when he gets a little out of hand I let him know. He knows when to use his indoor voice and where it’s ok to run around. He does however get cranky sometimes and all of a sudden bursts out in his terrible toddler stage but I’m able to control it maybe 10 minites tops and I do feel bad for the people who have to endure the crying for me. It would be nice if they had business/first class seperated for those with younger kids and then those for olde kids or just adults. Same for economy too then maybe everyone would be happy. Who knows when that will ever happen?

    • Patrick says:

      Thanks, Dawn, for leaving this comment — and for being civil and not swearing at me or threatening me, as others have done. As I tried to make clear in the follow-up post that I ran, my problem isn’t with kids CRYING, through no fault of their own, but with kids — toddlers and often older — who SCREAM and who SHRIEK, and whose parents make no effort to stop them and seem to think this is perfectly acceptable behavior. When I was that age, I most certainly was not allowed to run around yelling at the top of my lungs, but this seems to have become a sort of new normal. You see it everywhere: at airports, on planes, in shopping malls, etc.

  224. Soren Nielsen says:

    Before I had Kids I would agree with you on most of your points. Now I do have children and I do my best myself to have a great flight, the cabin crew can help alot if the child is upset and if they are trained.
    If a child is crying the child can be in pain and its typical ears this is easy to solve and should only have the child crying for 10 minutes during take-off and landing.
    Infants will stop crying when they have had their food and they can lie down so get a babycot for the infants it worked for us every time we flew long-distance.
    You can rest or work if you do have a headset which cancel the noise and if its a good airline they should help you with this, make sure next time you fly they have it.

    Finally if children are rude its ok for a stranger to put them right as there are alot of curling parents who just cant manage it public, so just speak out if your not happy, good luck.

  225. Nicole says:

    You were a child once and I understand both sides of the argument. Ever think perhaps people pay extra so they’re not cramped in economy which will cause the children to fly into fits of rage longer and more frequent?
    I bet you anything the amount of noise you heard from those children would have been far worse and longer on the other passengers.

    Ever hear of noise canceling headphones?

  226. I just saw those comments on this article, Patrick. Lol xD. Umm sometimes kids can be annoying as hell especially on a premium flight, l love kids so much! It’s a shame that their parents won’t do anything to calm them. I flew with Korean Air on my way back to Jakarta on business and there’s a woman with a 6 years kid with her. The kid cried a lot during flight and the headphones alone won’t help. I know how annoying kids can be but hey, it depends on the kids and parents themselves.

  227. Maria says:

    I have to fly with my 1.5 year old for 23 hours soon and because I know a lot of people think as you do, I am really dreading the flight. I am considering business because I imagine that if I increase his and my comfort, he might just get some sleep and leave us all in peace. If I were to fly economy, that would mean being crammed into a tiny seat, wedged between strangers, holding him on my lap the entire flight. It really seems so ridiculous that there is not a solution for this problem yet. I know it’s hard to be empathetic to other people when they have the audacity to bring a child into business, but I think in all honesty they are considering the comfort of the other passengers, by trying to limit the discomfort of the child. Unless they have to travel with a child themselves, I totally understand how people would be ignorant to just how difficult it is.

    • Patrick says:

      Thanks, Maria, for this comment. We might not agree, but I appreciate you leaving a thoughtful and decent reply, rather than simply swearing at me or insulting me, as most of the others have done.

  228. Rob says:

    The comments on this post are depressing. That people choose to be so polarized by something so innocuous is a foul reflection on how we treat each other in general. Why have hatred is so visceral and personal?

    1. Look at the title of this post – it’s a question. It’s not a veiled attack on children of the world and their parents.
    2. Patrick did not say he hates kids, nor did he say they are at fault.
    3. Patrick did not say he blames all parents. There are assholes everywhere – he just documented them, much like many of you documented yourself here.

    This is a real problem. When you pay for comfort, you are not paying for the discomfort created by a distressed child. And, since there’s no reason why a parent can’t fly in first/business, then it’s absolutely a parent’s right to do that. And that’s a problem – it’s a pretty basic conflict.

    This is the airline industry’s problem to solve. My suggestion is to have premium family cabins. They should cost less than current premium cabins because, well, they’re less comfortable. If that’s too costly, then charge *more* for a child free cabin. I personally hate that idea – biz/first costs too much already, but if that solves the problem.

    But we have to stop the hatred. People need to be able to be honest and express their opinions without being ripped asunder. This blog post does express frustration with certain people and behaviors but it is NOT personal. The comments sure are – grow up, it’s not all about you.

  229. Grumpy Old Man says:

    You are a grumpy old man who has forgotten you yourself, at one point, was an obnoxious snotty piece of shit. If kids irritate you so much, kids who have paid to fly in business and are entitled to be there as much as you, then I suggest you stay at home.

    • Patrick says:

      Sorry, I guess I stand corrected. It is, in fact, perfectly okay for parents to allow their kids to shriek uncontrollably and make everybody around them miserable. What ever was I thinking?

  230. Music says:

    How about wearing noise cancelling hear phones and turning up the volume?

  231. Dwight says:

    OK so to be brief because you sound like a proper brat. If you’re struggling that hard to get first class tickets then clearly that’s not your class and you should be buying tickets that are affordable to you. Premium economy or business there’s nothing wrong with any of them but putting on a crown doesn’t make you a king.

    Who are you to decide where kids are allowed? Yes it might be a nuisance and I have 3 kids and agree but there humans and don’t want to annoy you they’re having a worse time than you you twat. If you can’t afford noise cancelling headphones for a flight then what are you doing flying first class? Spend your money wisely and let life decide if and when this becomes your standard class for flying because you clearly sound like one of those people who save a year to get that ticket.

    I’m flying first all the time but has taken the occasional economy one too when I didn’t feel like spending money and crying kids are annoying regardless of what class you book. Basically who gave you the right to complain because you’re ‘paying a lot’ but people in ‘economy class’ are not allowed because they pay less? And if they are allowed to complain then where will babies and kids go during a flight?

    Either get richer so that first class feels like a normal class to you or get VERY rich and get a private jet. BUT baby steps first, get yourself a pair of headphones and accept who you are as I said there’s nothing wrong with flying economy if that’s what you pay for.

  232. Pattinaththaar says:

    When we see drunk passengers creating a ruckus in the flights, kids crying or making noises is not a matter at all as that is their nature. Is it nature for an adult to drink and create ruckus?

    I do not want to pay premium amount (my hard earned money) to sit in middle of people who drink liquor and I feel like sitting in a bar. Also, why should I pay the premium amount to smell the liquor and travel uncomfortably? So, in that case, liquor should be completely banned from flights. Will you be ok with that?

    Some people do not eat meat. And how can they travel uncomfortably with the meat smell and would like to remove meat and ask for a vegan food for all of them in flights? Will you be ok that?

    When it comes to flight travel, such things (kids crying, people drinking around you etc.,) are common in any class. If you do not have the mindset to adjust to those things, then take a private jet so that you can fly the way you want.

  233. Bob says:

    This is ridiculous! If a parent wants to travel in first or business class, they are handing out the same amount of hard earned cash that you are, and they also are already doing their best to keep their kids calm. If you were a 3 month old baby, I bet that all you would do is yell and scream and cry. And if you were a six year old kid, would you sit in the departure lounge rock solid not saying a word? Please think of how the kids feel. You were one too.

    • Patrick says:

      “…If a parent wants to travel in first or business class, they are handing out the same amount of hard earned cash that you are …”

      I don’t understand this. You’re paying the same fare, so therefore you have the right to make everybody else uncomfortable? What’s the logic, exactly?

      “…and they also are already doing their best to keep their kids calm…”

      I wish that were true. But it’s not, and this is maybe the crux of the problem. Many parents make absolutely no effort to quiet their screaming kids. Maybe that’s all right in a playground, but not in a premium airplane cabin where people have paid a great deal of money for a certain level of comfort that includes not being subject to unmuffled shrieking.

      I wish that were true. But it’s not, and that’s most of the problem. Many parents make absolutely no effort to quiet their screaming kid. Maybe that’s all right in a playground, but not in a premium airplane cabin where people have paid a great deal of money for a certain level of comfort that includes not being subject to unmuffled shrieking.

      • Bagofcorn says:

        You are perfectly right. People with kids think they entitled to everything and don’t care about their kids bothering anyone else. And then of you complain, you’re the monster. All the people protesting your post are probably parents who let their kids run wild.I don’t understand why it’s acceptable.

  234. Tabi says:

    Maybe it’s the time for a mandatory insurance to be purchased by first and business class passengers fly with a small child who might causes fellow passengers discomfort in premium cabin. Those suffer from sound of kid’s screaming and the diaper smell and so on will be compensated some portion of the ticket. It has to be documented by airline crews to verify the incident. Anyone who paid the ticket ( excludes those got award tickets) will be COMPENSATED somewhat. WE NEED JUSTICE IN THE SKY!

  235. Matt says:

    Buying an upgrade means there are fewer seats in your vicinity, and more expensive seats weed out many young families, so you are going to decrease the odds of getting seated near a child.

    I personally took our 18 month old with my wife in first class on a Chicago to Port land round trip. We selected 1AC. Actually, we paid for three seats, thiking wemail cold use all of them.

    Our little girl was a hand full. She was squirming ,fussing, wouldn’t sleep. Not cryinv loudly,but possibly distracting. She required 2 diaper changes. had a 4 hour flight, and I probably wouldn’t have wanted to go on the trip if we had to go to coach. We were able to let her stand up in our leg room area for some time. We has the attendant right there, so my wife and I could get our meals at different times, one of us holding the baby,while the other was eating.

    In summary, not all first class passengers are childless. What do you expect people with money and babies to do. I’m not going to have my girl fly first when she is able to sit in her own seat. Sure,crying babies are unpleasant on flights. But, so are loud drunk people, extremely obese people, poor hygeine. I would have been damped if I had to travel with a young toddler AND get crammed next to someone.

    So, if you generalize that infants /toddlers should not be in first, it is really demonstrating your ignorance of what parents have to decide. Or, you are just an asshole. It certainly wouldn’t stop me from taking my girl

  236. shredder says:

    While I agree with you on most aspects of your blog, the tone of your (and some others) replies are absurd & uncalled for. Travel is a necessity these days and kid whether flying business, economy or first has paid for the very same.

    – Firstly, no-one is trying to make your life miserable. If at all someone is, it is the kid who is probably having a way worse time which is why he is behaving the way he/she is. Worse off are the parents who apart from not being able to control their child, have to deal with the deeply apologetic feeling of disturbing others.

    – Of course, there are bad apples every here and there, and I refer to parents who don’t do their due-diligence to keep their kid in comfortable and in control.

    Everyone has bad days and they don’t usually last, so people need to stop the silly whining, be a little more considerate, and if you cant, then book a residence suite or better still a private jet for your next trip.

  237. maxmaxmax says:

    Sometime in the relatively recent past, American (USA) culture became entirely kid-centric. When I was growing up in the 60s, were children allowed to climb on public sculptures? Hell no. Run around screaming in restaurants? No way.

    I once asked the parent of a kid sitting behind me on a plane to please have them stop kicking me; they didn’t do anything; I asked again, only to have the parent say “why are you trying to ruin everyone’s day?” Really?!

    Yeah, I’m a parent, and unfortunately my kids are lot brattier than I want them to be–it’s an upstream battle–but I take responsibility for their behavior.

    I don’t want screaming children near me on a plane (it’s not as if you can get up and move to a quieter section of the plane); I don’t want them in the restaurant; I don’t want them in a movie. Think I’m a monster? Guess again. When I’ve been stuck on a plane near a whining kid and the parents took the matter in their hands–without anyone asking them to do so–I’m willing to forgive and forget.

    To the parent who lets little Billy piss on my leg, and then tells me “he’s expressing himself”: drop dead. Dog owners are responsible for the behavior of their pets: your dog bites me, you’re screwed; it’s howling all night long, expect a visit from the cops. Take the same responsibility for your progeny, and stop letting them use my world as their playground.

    • Bagofcorn says:

      Thank you! Parents today think their children are more important than anyone else and don’t give a crap when they create problems for others.

  238. MeanMom says:

    I generally fly business when on business, because I usually need to function professionally upon landing and hit the ground running, so I totally get your beef. I fly zoo class when paying my own ticket, and my observation is that screaming kids are generally dwindling in numbers on long haul flights due to the individual entertainment systems. I once got upgraded to business, as an apology after an airline snafu, with my two sons, then 2 and 6, and a woman due to sit next to my eldest made a huge fuss about having paid 4000 Euros for a transatlantic flight and she wasn’t going to sit next to a kid. The crew was appalled. I offered to downgrade to economy, as I didn’t want any trouble. The crew told me to sit tight. My kid was quiet, delighted with the creature comforts, pleasant with the crew, slept after a while, ie no problem. I think the issue here is the behavior of the parents. No, there should not be an age limit for business class, but there should be behavioral standards. Parents who cannot or will not control their kids should be given fair warning – on their conditions of carriage, say- that if their kid doesn’t behave, the whole family gets demoted to economy, and particularly pleasant and polite folks from zoo class should get upgraded if there is no more room in economy to accommodate the rude rich and their progeny. 🙂
    BTW, love your blog!

  239. DingDong says:

    D-bags like you deserve to have your head dunked in a toilet twice a day..

    • Patrick says:

      I’m sorry, are you talking to me? I’m a d-bag because why, now? Because I don’t enjoy sitting next to a shrieking child for 12 hours?

      • Gabriel says:

        Yes, you are a jerk and yes even for the fact that you don’t want to spend 12 hours sitting next to a crying infant or toddler. As its been stated a few times in these posts, all passengers on these flights have to pay for their seats, not just you. You state that you paid a little over 2500 dollars for your business class seat. What about parents who pay (for a minimum of three family members) 8000 dollars to fly business class and spend a lot more money than you to fly as comfortable as possible. You say that paying 2500 dollars should absolve you from hearing children crying? Well I think that paying 8000 – 10000 dollars should absolve a family from having to hear smart ass remarks, rolling of the eyes, disgusted stares, and a number of other issues that come up during a long flight. I would do a better job of understanding the frustrations that 90% of these parents go through and how tense it can be flying with children that they are doing their best to control and keep entertained and quiet. Since you got a “last minute deal” on your flight, the next time you get a “deal”, use the money you saved and buy you some ear plugs, headphones, or put it towards your own private plane.

      • Bagofcorn says:

        Don’t listen to these idiots. For some reason parents today think we should be happy to listen to their bawling kids.

  240. Tina says:

    One time I paid full price for a business-class ticket from Washington, DC to Frankfurt — a red-eye, as most flights from the US to Europe tend to be. Since I have trouble sleeping on planes, I was hoping that the extra comfort would help…but there was a kid in the seat directly in front of me, about 3 or 4 years old, who kept shouting “Mommy Mommy Mommy!” ALL. NIGHT. LONG. Talk about air rage…my husband and I didn’t say anything, but we were livid. So I would totally support an age restriction on business and first class — a kid must be old enough to be quiet through the entire flight. Since this varies depending on the child, I’d say about 6 or 7 would probably work for most kids.

    • Gina says:

      Well, at least it wasn’t a screaming, crapping kid, because that’s the next variation; I’ve traveled next to and behind those too.

  241. […] business class. This was a predictably controversial subject when I brought it up a few months ago, here, after an unfortunate experience with Asiana Airlines. Well, it wasn’t a whole lot better […]

  242. Anon says:

    I do have a question for you Patrick… If it was someone with a disability who was loud and making involuntary noises (much like that of an infant) – would you advocate for a ‘disability free’ zone on the plane also….?

    Perhaps FC should be reserved for families only… I mean, if you want to affect change – you may as well start from the front right?

  243. Chaos says:

    I’d love to know what flights you’re all on… kids running up and down aisles, screaming because they like it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it, and it’s like 1 in 30 kids that make a fuss. And wow, you know what, babies can cry — big deal!

    My eldest has flown 4-8 times a year over the last 6 years with his first flight being at 9 months old and he’s barely made a sound. My youngest is 6 months, and cried a bit on her last 8 hour flight last week… it was mostly because the unruly adults kept on waking her up. Those sorts should be banned!

    I don’t even care if someone’s kid is crying; every traveller should have noise-cancelling headphones if they want their own bubble. I’m always capable of getting my work done and arrive refreshed, surrounded by kids or not.

    Less whining, more meditation.

    • Patrick says:

      >> I’d love to know what flights you’re all on… kids running up and down aisles, screaming because they like it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it>>

      I have. In addition to the flight I describe, I was recently aboard an Emirates flight in which several young kids (they were part of a large family traveling together to Mumbai) were running absolutely amok: climbing over seats, shrieking, running up and down the aisles. This too was in business class.

      And again with the noise canceling headphones. To repeat what I said in an earlier comment: These headsets do NOT block out the sound of a screeching kid. But more importantly, it throws the onus onto the person being annoyed rather than the party doing the annoying. It’s like saying: I hold the right to destroy the peace and quiet of everybody around me, and it’s THEIR responsibility to deal with it by purchasing expensive headphones.

    • Justsaynotokids says:

      Headphones can only do so much, they cannot stop the kicking, the throwing, the touching. I got stuck next to a family on an 8 hours flight. I had an isle and the parents elected to put their 2 and 3 year old in the center while they sat together. I am very non confrontational so I took the yelling screaming fighting spilling thrashing into my seat until about the 10th time the 2 year old jumped on me and woke me from a noise canceling, blindfolded, ambient sleep.
      You parents are not entitled to do that. Having children does not make you special or more deserving. An infant in 1st class sitting on a lap did NOT pay for the right to be there, their parent did. Be courteous, realize that not everyone thinks your dumpling is cute. I am not your babysitter.

      I looked at the 2 year old and told him if he touched me one more time I would eat him. Maybe that was mean, but the last 2 hours were touch free.

  244. cj says:

    Umm, yeah. And what if those parents were the ones paying the $10000 for their premium seat so that they didn’t have to look after a baby in economy? How does that stack up against your super cheap airfare? Perhaps you could’ve employed the noise cancelling headphones

    • Patrick says:

      Paying a $10,000 fare does not entitle these parents, or anybody else, to annoy the hell out of everybody around them. No fare entitles a passenger to that.

      And this whole noise-cancelling headsets “solution” irks me. For starters, these headsets do not block out the sound of a screeching kid. But more importantly, it throws the onus onto the person being annoyed, rather than the party doing the annoying. It’s like saying: I have the RIGHT to destroy the peace and quiet of everybody around me, and it’s THEIR responsibility to deal with it by purchasing expensive headphones.

      • olena says:

        Patrick, you are mistaken: your understanding of comfort is wrong. Comfort on the airlines means extra space and a chair which becomes a bed. And free drinks. Your expectations are too high. The long flight is too hard on anyone, especially when you can’t sleep, because your chair is uncomfortable. Kids? sorry, bad luck for you. When I am booking my business class flight, I have to book it for my baby too. Baby can’t be unattended in economy. plus, even a baby can’t sleep on those tiny chairs. Use earplugs next time, lol

        • Marie says:

          Better you stay at home with your Baby/toddler.
          Patrick Is absolutely right. I’m female, 33 years old and Married.
          Parents nowadays are absolutely disgusting and horrible.
          They are selfish and have the mentality “i have a child so i can Do this and this and this” and other people can take earplugs… Your stupid answer represents the nowadays parents mentality.
          Whats wrong with you???? Stay at home with your nerving brat. I hate children in flights. TheY should be taken to the cargo room Or be banned completely!!!!!!!

          • Phillipa says:

            Marie I don’t know what your being 33, female and married has to do with anything.
            When you’re a parent, then you will understand.
            You don’t just leave your baby home because people on the plane might get annoyed.
            I have 3 boys, my 6 year old has flown many times, my 19 month old has as well for his age. Right now we’re on our way to the airport for a 7 hour flight, we do fly economy however, if I had the money I’d definitely go business or first.
            I’m flying with my 3 month old from Australia to the USA in a couple months.

            Children are part of this world, you don’t just deny them things like travel because they’re annoying to other people or even to their own parents.
            When kids are being rat bags, trust me, the parents are probably more fucked off than you are. They’re feeling ashamed that their child is being “that child”.

            I don’t because quite frankly I don’t give a fuck. Not about what other people are thinking anyway.

            How about instead of kids not flying Marie, you not fly aye? You stay home in your kid free box and stop being a judgmental git.

          • Marie says:

            philippa you Are such sort of the parents about which i
            Spoke. And you don’t put on the reply Function cause you Are afraid of my answer.
            You Seem To be frustrated, aggressive, inconsiderate and rude! Other People don’t Want To Hear the blablabla of your childs !!!!!
            Thats the reason why more and more Hotels do childfree policies Cause they Want To offer their guests quietness and Peace. They don’t Want To have inconsiderate parents like you!! Me instead i’m welcome there Cause i don’t disturb anyone…
            And the Airlines will follow i am sure and then its the Time when you Stay at home and Other People don’t get annoyed and rid by your brat and i’ll have a peaceful Flight.
            You can Take a Special Family plane then…. with so Many Other inconsiderate Person which Are the Same like you!!!!!
            Hahaha :))))))))

          • Sue says:

            I hope one day you & your husband have children Marie. It will be hilarious. If you do, you will one day find you actually wish or NEED to venture into public. Perhaps a plane, maybe a bus, train or a cafe. Perhaps even a supermarket. And, if you do, remember your advice here, how imbued with wisdom and judgement you were.
            Sometimes it is necessary and desirable to travel with children. I’d rather sit next to a crying child than someone like you.

          • Dwight says:

            Seriously if I was flying next to you and you said anything about my kids I would happily beat the hell out of you and pay the lawsuit. This what I called money well spent because at least next time you might think twice and remember that you used to be a baby long time ago and yes your parents might not have taken you first class but reading your comments clearly shows that they did a far worse job raising an individual like you compared to the so called bad parents you’re referring to.

            An one last remark, it makes you feel so important to play tough talking about a small baby but I’d love to see you having that attitude with a drunk and screaming 6 ft 5 in 300 lbs man.

          • Hayden says:

            Everyone in this reply chain sound as loathsome as the very children in question…

            The real answer (already in motion) to this problem is;
            1. Creating a reputation system (it will contain everyone in the world that has ever flown and be shared among airlines).
            2. Demerit points will be retracted for anyone that infringes the comforts of other passengers when aboard a flight (and will likely spread to all public transport / locations).
            3. Eventually, flights that require a minimum reputation level to board will be introduced.
            (4. Eventually, everything public will be segregated. Welcome to the New World “Caste” Order.)

            Yes, it may sound ridiculous… but this kind of global policing is just around the corner. Along with your passport being an RFID chip (containing all manner of information about you) inserted at birth.

            Market forces such as supply and demand will handle the rest (i.e. What minimum reputation level is most profitable for the airlines).

            For those out there displaying a knee jerk reaction to this article… It would be advisable to get into the habit of being more considerate… and disciplining children to likewise follow suit. Sooner, rather than later. (Less you / they suffer socio-economically as a result of being uncivil.)

            (Especially you, Mr. “I would happily beat the hell out of you and pay the lawsuit.” One step away from going to jail, probably already has a criminal history and will be denied access to all planes in future Guy.)

          • Dwight is a sad little man says:

            “Seriously if I was flying next to you and you said anything about my kids I would happily beat the hell out of you and pay the lawsuit.”

            Hey keyboard warrior, you’d be paying more than a fine. Your dumb ass would be hauled off the plane in handcuffs and tossed in a cell while the cops and courts figured out just how much time you were going to serve. In case you didn’t notice, sky crimes are taken pretty seriously these days.

  245. Lydia Falardeau says:

    fuck you kids should be allowed

    • Morrigan says:

      Just as there are many adult-only resorts, there should be adult-only or childfree flights. I understand how some parents feel their little spawns are deserving of special treatment and understanding beause the parents have no common sense; however, your choices to breed and then fail to recognize that not everyone appreciates a howling crotch-dropping after they have paid dearly for a luxury (or what is perceived as a luxury) – is not the fault of hard-workinig, intelligent, childfree adults who desire some quiet time and are willing to pay for it. You chose to breed, therefore you and your mewling spawn should be required to accommodate the more intelligent of the species…

    • Anonymous says:

      u are just the sort of person to be parenting these little monsters. we are child free by choice, and would pay double not to travel with kids. airlines should at least have child free, insulated zones. just because people think their kids are cute, millions of us don’t

    • BabiezSuckDaAzz says:

      Oh so classy, Lydia! Do you kiss your vagina fruit with that foul mouth?!?

      • Patrick says:

        Almost without exception, those who disagree with me on this subject do with extreme hostility. Nearly every opposing letter is full of curses and insults. I’m not sure where this sentiment comes from, but it’s startling and frankly a little scary.

    • Patrick says:

      Duly noted, Lydia.

      Only on the internet are people so darned polite!

  246. MotherOfTwo says:

    Seriously, you think you were not a baby or a kid that caused any king od distraction or NOISE when you were small. Too bad for you people that these babies and kids can fly business class and can afford it. They are babies & kids that most of the time cannot be controlled. the way you are acting, you are more childish than them. Wait till you have your own kids, or on second though if you will, I do not think so.

    • Patrick says:

      I disagree with the “kids will be kids” rationalization. No kid — or, more correctly, no parent — is entitled to make those around him or her miserable. I realize that under some circumstances a baby’s crying cannot be controlled. Fine, but that baby shouldn’t be permitted in a setting where people are paying thousands of dollars specifically to avoid such discomforts.

      • Phillipa says:

        Here’s the thing: No one can make another person miserable.
        You choose how you want to feel. If you choose to feel miserable because a kid is crying? That’s on you. You control your reactions.

        • Patrick says:

          I’m sorry, but this is absurd. It is amazing, some of the mind-bending justifications people come up with. By this logic, shoot, let’s allow smoking on planes, the blasting of loud music, screaming babies, cell phones, you name it. Why not? After all, “No one can make another person miserable.”

          Look, perhaps some people tolerate it better than others, but you don’t “choose” to feel annoyed when a kid is screaming any more than you “choose” to feel annoyed if somebody is sticking a red-hot skewer into your ear. Sure, you can “control your reactions.” Take a deep breath, tune out the racket. But that only works to a point. The idea of “no one can make another person miserable” is preposterous in any context, not just this one.

          • Bagofcorn says:

            These people are entitled idiots. If I paid a lot to dine at a 4 star restaurant I would expect to not be bothered by unruly children. And if their parents didn’t do anything, I would expect the restaurant to do something about it.

      • Marie says:

        Totally agree with you Patrick!!

  247. Sushi says:

    I am fortunate that I’ve never had a child in the cabin whilst travelling business class. The whole point of the business or first class cabin, is to provide a more comfortable environment where business people can work or sleep so that they can arrive refreshed and ready for work, this is why companies pay extra. I would be very unhappy if I had a long haul flight with a screaming baby in close proximity, even less so if I had paid for the ticket!! Airlines should have a stated policy of moving a passenger to economy class if they are unable to control their child.

    Now, I know that people with kids have the right to a comfortable seat too, but they do not have the right to force their kids bad behaviour on other people. The world does not revolve around babies, toddlers, diapers and farleys rusks, although every new parent in the world seems to think it does, and that anyone else should move heaven and earth to accomodate them. I love kids but I’m not sure business class is the place for them. My kids are in their late teens now and we only ever flew short haul with them when they were very young, precisely because we thought it was quite traumatic for young children to couped up for so long and unfair inflict a screaming baby on fellow passengers economy or otherwise.

    Any responsible parent should be as close to 100% (as you can be) that their child is going to be as good as gold before taking them on a long business class flight.

    • YoIronFistBro says:

      Have you heard of “NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES”

      • Tina says:

        Have you ever actually TRIED to block out a kid’s screeching with noise-canceling headphones? It doesn’t work. There are no headphones manufactured that are capable of blocking out ALL outside sounds, especially really loud and really close ones.

  248. Bear Mac Mhathun says:

    A child screaming usually has a good reason – this is an indignant howl about having to share space with other human beings. Usually the noise of the aircraft will drown out any noise that the child could make.

    A bit of sympathy would make your trip much easier and more pleasant: escalating the emotion is simply counterproductive.

    • Anonymous says:

      when we pay out of pocket for a 1st class/business ticket, we don’t give a rat’s rear why a baby is crying/or that little hyper johnny is on a rant. if asian airlines can ban kids under a certain age, in first and business class, other airlines can too

  249. Martin Carroll says:

    To Chris,

    Just one message to you, pal.

    Come and meet me face to face. Then you’ll find out how tough I really am, you tosser.

    I don’t take any prisoners and have had a go, politely at first, at parents with screaming kids in First or Business on many occasions before now.

    For your sake, I seriously hope you won’t be one in future.

  250. I agree but also disagree, I think that children are from Satan and shouldn’t be able to roam this Earth. I believe they are the reason for the recent earthquake in Nepal and for every person who died another spawn of Satan has been placed on our Planet. I also believe that children should be banned from al motor transport, this will solve the child obesity problem by making the only option walking. Many of the devil children I have encountered have proved my theory that children are only here as spies of the devil and are his accomplices. in my experience with children they have been known to cause havoc and I have never met a child with doesn’t fit the mould of my theory. I hope you take time to appreciate this enlightenment into the true nature of children.

    • I completely disagree with Gerald Fitzgerald, children are like rabbits, rabbits are life. can you not see the angel like expressions upon every child? they are the reason this world is so wonderful. everybody works upon building their future, including rabbits. They are the beating heart of this universe, without them we are nothing. Have you never held and stroked a child as you do with as chid? if not you will not be able to fully understand the true meaning of our existence and our purpose.
      Lots of bunny kisses,
      From Belinda Bunny and her Bunnies
      xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    • Satan says:

      Leave me and my children alone, Gerald. We’ll have our little chit chat when your time roaming the earth’s up.

  251. Mom who flies first and biz with child says:

    I don’t know why this is an issue at all. The OP and some commenters suggest (or some out advocate) banning ALL children for the misgivings of ONE child. If I advocated an age ban for all the instances of people who have constantly annoyed me on an airplane, there would be no one left on the plane. I’ve had a man constantly kick my chair from behind on one flight, a woman open and close the seat tray attached my seat no less than 30 times on a 3 hour flight, a young adult male who talked to himself during the flight next to me, another person who refused to use headphones and watched movies on his laptop with the sound ON, etc. The list goes on and on. In other words, adults can behave badly as well, and the worst part is that they SHOULD know better. I have two children. One I know behaves on flights so he’s sat in first, biz, and coach. Everyone loves him and comments on “well-behaved” he is. I even had a very public figure fortune 100 CEO offer to hold him when he was a baby so I could eat lunch when I was in first class. My second child; however, is very temperamental. I know better than to bring him on first or biz. But I wouldn’t dare advocate banning ALL children. Just like adults, each child is different. Some will behave. Some will not. Discrimination of an entire class of people is not an answer.

  252. Chris says:

    Also sounds like Martin Carroll is an Internet tough guy. He’s going threaten a baby. Real tough. In reality you know you won’t do anything stupid…unless you want to go to jail. You are a douche. Internet tough guy…

  253. Chris says:

    Guess what? I will be flying 4 trips in Business Class with a 14 month old. Do we want him to be unruly? No. Will he? Probably. Is it in our control to keep him quiet 24/7? No. We pay to have the extra space and comfort just like everyone else. Let’s talk about the high and mighty people who snore loud as hell in Business Class? Or those who fart and make us smell their foul odors? All are annoying. Do we ban snorers or farters from Business Class too? No one feels worse than the parent who has the screaming kid because we know it sucks. All you snobby people who want to talk about paying $ to fly comfortable without crying babies, fly on a private plane. Oh wait! You’re not that rich. All you complainers cry more than my baby does.

  254. Bora Yavalar says:

    Hello,
    I am an eleven year old boy who loves flying first class. I totally agree with Patrick Smith on this blog post.
    Toddlers should not be allowed to sit in first class or business class if they are crying or making annoying noises. But I would not like to get banned from flying premium classes because of my age. I have gone on a couple (4) flights as an unaccompanied minor in first class internationally and the crew treated me greatly!

    Bora Yavalar
    Washington DC
    IAD DCA

    • YoIronFistBro says:

      I agree. I’m the same age as you and I can’t wait to be flying business 4 times in July and August. I am always well behaved and I really enjoy flying. The worst part of the flight is getting off the plane. It’s usually chaotic with ADULTS and children

  255. Martin Carroll says:

    To the obnoxious bitch who says she would deliberately bring her horrible little brats into Business or First Class:

    If you did that on a flight that I had paid a lot of money for, you WOULD be shutting them up, or I would do it for you!!

    It is the scum of society like you who should be banned from anywhere on a plane except Economy.

    • The obnoxious bitch says:

      Problem is, Martin, YOU won’t be boarding that flight. Time to go back to the lunatic asylum where you belong, pal. Great escape, though.

      • Martin Carroll says:

        You’re quite right. If I saw some jerk like you with her little pieces of scum in a premium cabin, I wouldn’t want to travel anyway!!

        I’d rather get another flight and have some piece and quiet.

        • Some jerk who supposed to be like me says:

          Boohoooooo… go to momma and suckle, you big crybaby. Unfortunately for you, the airline won’t give a damn. They’d prefer to get three income from me and my precious kids than from one a**hole like you. You’d do the whole cabin a great favor, too. It’s ‘peace’ by the way, not ‘piece’.

    • Marie says:

      Totally right Martin

  256. Bruce says:

    Back in the 80’s I had the chance to fly in First Class on a flight to Jamaica. The First Class area was not that heavily occupied save for myself and a few others. As the boarding process continued a woman with a baby occupied the middle seat across from me. Sure enough the kid starts wailing as soon as the aircraft began taxiing to the runway. This continued unabated during the climb out and well into cruise flight. I remember the kids mother sat there and let this kid scream it’s bloody head off. Then this burly looking guy in a business suit who was seated in front of me gets up and gets right in this woman’s face. “shut it up” he says . I don’t care how you do it but shut that brat up now”. Needless to say this got the attention of the flight attendant and the woman and her offspring were removed to coach. Turns out the guy was some VIP!

  257. Kenny says:

    Why are kids in Business and first class? There shouldn’t be any!!!

    • a mother says:

      Oh you know why. I love to bring my 3 and one yr old kids travelling business and first class just to annoy arrogant people like you and the blog writer above. If you are so accustomed to travelling by airplane, you should know that airlines provide ear plugs. Learn how to use it. You said you travel business to avoid inconvenience. So do parents with young kids.

      • Patrick says:

        Let me get this straight. You intentionally bring kids into business class to annoy other passengers. And you’re calling me and other commenters in this forum “arrogant.” That’s rich.

        • Frequent Flyer says:

          If I’m paying, I usually don’t fly business class anymore unless I’m upgraded. I’m just tired of getting on board expecting to sleep or work and being disappointed. A major point of business or first is one is buying a seat that flattens to get some rest and it’s just not worth the money to have the peace shattered by people with small children and babies. Presumably that is why it’s called business class – so you can work and arrive at your destination rested. I’ve found that usually if asked to control toddlers, they have nasty, indignant reactions like this woman. Apparently this is the kind of inconsiderate, entitled person who doesn’t make an effort to control their child in the first place. Anglo-Saxon expat wives on flights from Asia are the rudest. If airlines ban children from business class, I’ll start buying more business class tickets again. I should add that not even Bose headphones shut out screaming babies.

        • a mother says:

          Patrick, if you don’t understand what sarcasm is, then there’s no point in arguing anything with you. Intelligent level not high enough for my taste. Waste of time.

  258. Vidor says:

    This post is an interesting combination of contempt (for parents, and for children), entitled rich-man arrogance (the notion that buying a first-class ticket entitles you to not have to interact with human beings you find unpleasant), lack of business sense (banning children from first class would cause parents to fly coach or not fly, which would hurt the airlines), lack of self-awareness (Patrick Smith was once a child, and when Patrick Smith was a child he and his parents depended on the understanding and good will of other humans) and dishonesty/disingenuousness (Smith is clearly advocating banning children from first class, but he pretends that he isn’t, saying that it’s “something to consider”).

    All in all, a pretty amazing amount of mean-spiritedness and lack of empathy wrapped up in a single blog post. In the real world, discriminating against someone due to their age or due to their status as parents is no more acceptable than discriminating against them due to their race or their sex or their physical appearance. Children and parents are entitled to access to transportation just as Patrick Smith is, and if they can afford a first-class ticket like Patrick Smith can, they are also entitled to fly up front with Patrick Smith. If Mr. Smith does not like associating with certain members of the human race when he travels, he can buy his own plane.

    • Antony says:

      Patrick – I fully agree with you and it is a shame that people on here with children do not seem to understand what you are saying. Whether it is first class or business class, as a passenger you have paid a premium to be there. For that premium you expect a level of enjoyment or relaxation over and above what you would have at the back of the plane. The issue here is that everyone should be able to have the same experience and unruly children diminish that experience for everyone else. Is it fair that just because parents have paid to sit in first or business class with their children, that they can ruin everyone else’s flight because they cannot or will not control their children. This is not a debate about children, it is a legitimate discussion as to whether they have the right to ruin other peoples experiences.

      • Vidor says:

        I fully understand what he’s saying. I just find it discriminatory, dishonest, and deeply offensive. If I’ve paid for a first-class ticket for me and my child, we deserve it too. Again, if you don’t like the rest of the human race, and you like the basic human empathy required to understand that you were once a child (thus requiring others to show empathy to you), then don’t fly, or get your own plane.

        • Patrick says:

          It’s incredible how this topic manages to cause people to react so irrationally and with such defensive panic.

          It has nothing to do with empathy or “understanding that you were once a child.” It has to do with annoying the hell out of other people — people who paid a lot of money specifically NOT to be annoyed. You don’t automatically have the right to ruin the experience for everybody around you.

          • parent says:

            WANKER

          • Bob says:

            If a child has a first class ticket, treat the child like any other passenger. If the child becomes unruly, ban the child from the plane.

          • Vidor says:

            “It’s incredible how this topic manages to cause people to react so irrationally and with such defensive panic.”

            I feel my response was entirely rational–I note that you make no effort to counter anything I said–and it’s hardly defensive panic, since I have flown first class exactly two times in my entire life, and never with my now six-year-old daughter. I object to your post for the reasons I stated, namely, your lack of empathy, your arrogance, and your dishonesty in pretending you are not advocating banning children from first class when you clearly are.

          • Watson says:

            What’s interesting, is that your fundamental argument rests on having paid a premium price “not to be annoyed”. This means you were either an uneducated consumer – not reading your airlines policy and what you were actually purchasing, which was a premium SEAT and SERVICE not “the absence of children or whatever else you find annoying” – or your were naive and assumed that somehow paying more money for your ticket entitled you to more than you paid for. Point being, you feel that because you wanted an relaxing and quiet experience, that you were going to get that because you bought a first class fare. However, that is not what your first class fare promised you. You got what you paid for (a nicer lounge, a nicer seat, and probably nicer service than in coach). In both places you would have been exposed to children – this IS public transportation, it is NOT a private jet. If the price isn’t worth it to you, then just fly coach. Don’t get frustrated because your false sense of entitlement was crushed.

  259. Cecily says:

    Making parents pay full fare for their kids and creating “family flights” might do it. If once or twice a week, a long haul was scheduled to include children while keeping them off the rest of the flights, it would go far to reduce the problem and put the burden back where it belongs — on the parents.

    In recent decades, people have intruded with their children in places they were never allowed — let alone allowed to make a fuss. These “family flights” could even be one class — just a bunch of seats and a couple aisles for the children to run up and down and scream.. Since parents seem to find such beavior cute, let them have it all to themselves to enjoy.

    • Julian says:

      On what market analysis was this claim made?

      Carriers have enough trouble filling flights, which is why there are fewer flights nowadays, along with route consolidation.

      Carriers aren’t going to create a kids-only or babies-only flight.

      One of the most ridiculous ideas I’ve ever heard.

      The major issue here isn’t kids. It’s bad parents. Flight staff should be trained to mitigate bad parents. It’s not a child’s fault if his/her parents are doing a shitty job of raising them.

      I’ve flown plenty of times in business class with extremely well-behaved children, and my experience wasn’t degraded. Get over yourselves people.

      • Bob says:

        Kids should not be in first class. If they are in first class, and start misbehaving before the flight takes off, remove them from the flight like they would do to any unruly passenger. If I pay 10K for a first class ticket, I demand to be not next to a screaming imbecile.

        • CeraYu says:

          So, let me get this straight: In the policies and fine print of your 10K first class ticket, you were expressly informed that you had the right to demand that anything you found annoying could be banned from your presence? No? That’s what I thought. You fly on public airlines. The public (which includes children) are allowed to fly on it as well. If a parent wants to shell out 10k for their child to have a first class seat, they can do that. I would hope they’ve parented their children well, but if not, that’s a risk you take any time you enter a public space. Don’t like it? Don’t fly.

  260. T. Gagerman says:

    Love the crying baby story Patrick.

    I’ve been on both sides of this one. Truth is, a baby-free zone in the cabins isn’t a bad idea, specifically in first/business.

    That said, there is no excuse for people who let their kids run around crazy in the lounges. Parents should be clued in enough to put a stop to it. If they can’t I see no reason they shouldn’t be asked to leave.

    I have a funny story for you:

    Years ago when M was only 7 months old (she is 10 now), we used miles to get three first class seats all the way to and from New Zealand to visit my sister-in-law. I booked the flights many months in advance.

    About a month prior to the trip, the airline contacted us to tell us that instead of the scheduled 1:30 layover in Auckland before our return trip, my wife and 7 month-old would have a 7:55 layover instead. This change by the airline was due to their original flight to Auckland being discontinued. Upon checking the schedules, there were plenty of other flights with seats which would have yielded far less of a layover. The airline’s response: “Sorry, there are no ‘miles’ seats available on that flight”. My response was clear, “Well, perhaps that’s true, but it wasn’t my decision to cancel the flight, so I feel they need to be accommodated.”

    No matter who I spoke with, no one cared. “So sorry, that’s the best we can do sir”. I could imagine them laughing as they hung up.

    Some days later, prior to the scheduled trip with M, I was at the airport in Aukland. I went over to the first class lounge and spoke with one of the customer service ladies behind the counter. I asked her if she was going to be working the lounge the next Thursday. She said, “Yes I certainly will be!”. I said, “That’s terrific. Perhaps you can help me with a little problem”.

    I explained the entire story, but the response was the same. “I’m really sorry sir, but there really is nothing I can do if that’s what the airline has told you”.

    “Oh, that’s too bad.” I said sadly. “That means my 7 month-old will be sitting in your lounge for almost eight hours, screaming at the top of her lungs, non-stop. You know, she has the lungs to blow out the glass in here. But if you can’t help, I do understand.”

    Her face grew pale. “One minute Mr. Gagerman.” And she disappeared. About 10 minutes later: “Here you go Mr. Gagerman.” She handed me copies of the new tickets, now with only a two-hour layover.

    Victory!

  261. Jeff Latten says:

    Sorry, Cap, I wouldn’t find this piece of corporate BS to be of any comfort if I had had the same experience as you did. Believe me, screaming kids ANYWHERE are enough to curdle my blood.

    Asiana offered you nothing but “we’re sorry” and a whole lot of “passenger comfort is our #1 priority,” etc, etc. At no point do they offer you anything of value to offset this most unpleasant flight experience one could imagine, at no point to they indicate that they would take any steps to reduce the number of infants and toddlers in the premium class sections, or better yet, some valium for these little monsters over whom their parents have no control, and frequently don’t even exert any (to wit: the candy mom at JFK).

    This kind of customer service is becoming all to common these days. Big corporations just don’t seem to give a crap about a dissatisfied customer. It’s just “we’re sorry” and you can stick where the sun don’t shine, and this seems to becoming the norm. Add “too big to care” to “too big to fail.”
    It truly is becoming a uncivil world with thoughtless, obnoxious behavior, both by kids and adults, all around.

  262. ATLDrew says:

    You want an example of bad parenting? Submitted for your (non)approval: The mom sitting in FC and her two kids (sub-10 years old) sitting in coach in the row behind me. They were doing the standard kicking the seat in front of them, banging on the tray table, etc.; all the things you’re hoping for in coach-class discomfort while mom is having a cocktail in first. I call the FA over, explain the situation and she reads the kids the riot act in a manner you wish all parents could execute on: firm, direct, non-threatening, and with no question about who’s running the show on this dang aeroplane. After the wonderfully and professionally executed tongue-lashing, the FA and I chat and come to agreement:

    Worst.
    Mother.
    Ever.

    At the end of the flight mom comes swimming upstream against the tide of trying to deplane passengers to reach her kids, one last act of symbolically flipping the bird to the proletariat in coach who, in the (hopefully unlikely) event of an emergency would have done whatever was necessary to get her kids safely off the burning/sinking/smoking/disintegrating aircraft. I wanted to smack her with a halibut but without ready access to a large oily fish I could only offer up a derisive sneer.

    What a piece of work she was.

  263. YoungFlyer says:

    I’m about to turn 17 and have been flying since I was 6 months old. I was a quiet baby on planes and as I got older I would socialize until we took off. I’m on a plane about to depart right now as I type this. I hate when kids cry loud on planes but sometimes it’s their ears. I remember once at 13 my ears popped really bad. It was strange since I’ve flewn so much without the issue. I cried in my mom’s lap as quietly as possible to not draw attention. I don’t usually cry easily so it was a bad pain. These babies might have ear problems and their parents might not be able to calm them down.

    On the other hand some are just terrible and obnoxious. The parents don’t care and I want to tell them off but how would it look if a 16 year old without kids tells off a irresponsible parent? I’m about to go to college next August and fly more often from Arizona to Washington. I think that if people can’t control their kids they should get a 6 month(or something else) penalty on their accounts or marked on their ticket(like TSA precheck) that they can’t fly first class for that amount of time because of behavior. They can get a second chance when the time is up and longer penalties each time. The kids will grow up eventually so it can’t be forever. This way those good parents are fine and the bad ones get the boot.

  264. Rog Williams says:

    Quite simple, really.

    A family that has uncontrolled children, as indicated by numerous complaints, is put on the database as being unacceptable customers for, say, ten years – until the tykes have “grown up”.

    Lose a few customers, and the publicity will bring in multiples of that number.

    Can’t see it happening, somehow: pity.

  265. Tom Zimmermann says:

    I think a big thing here to consider is the child’s age. Infants screaming are distressed. Dirty looks and anger will only stress the parents out more. If they are seen to be doing something then great. If they just sit there playing on their iPad then that is disgraceful.
    I was that guy once who gave the ugly stare. Now I see things differently. However, an ill-behaved little turd needs to be disciplined, and the reason for being a little turd is probably because the parents are big turds. So if they are near you you are not likely to win…

    But I think that there is a case to be made for excluding kids from premium classes. The same should be done for theatres and gourmet restaurants. But I don’t think it will ever happen. Not just because of offending parent passengers with money but political correctness.

    Here in Australia there was a story about an adult-only retreat. Chalets with spas, pools, lush gardens etc for people who want quiet. There are not many of these around.
    This establishment was sued by a mother who wanted to bring her child. This place is now not adult-only anymore…
    I was appalled at reading this but this is the world we live in.

    • PolishKnight says:

      Reading the responses and my own personal experience, many parents are able to control their children or deal with the situation and they don’t deserve to be punished for it.

      When booking my tickets or my in-laws, I always try to steer clear of the first 5 rows of economy class because that’s usually the children section where they have the bassinets for infants. Nothing WRONG with that section and I’m happy the airline provides them for who needs them. If a parent can’t control their child, they should be sent to the “kiddy table” section of the plane and a passenger from that section “upgraded” if the child can’t calm down.

  266. JohnLM says:

    All I know is that the imaginary airline that I have all planned out in my head doesn’t allow kinds under the age of 12 at which point they get their “adult” wings along with a congratulatory announcement over the PA with a round of applause. I think that kind of niche product and comradery would be welcome to a great many travelers as well as give the kids that do fly a feeling adult responsibility which they love.

  267. Fernando says:

    You wanna be kids free? Fly on a private jet, ’cause every children there are paying just like you. My daughter is extremely well behaved on airplanes, she’s 2 and she has something like 20 business class flights on her resume. Never had a problem ’cause I care and take care of my kid, but if I do, I’ll just have to remember the complainer that I paid for my tickets just like him(her) paid for his/hers. Besides it would be such a negative marketing and loss of money for an airline to do what you suggest and segregate children to coach.

    • Jim says:

      So your 2 year old daughter is paying her own plane fare? Sounds like she’s really got it together for someone so young.

      And you are one of the many reasons I do not fly.

  268. PolishKnight says:

    Patrick, I’m surprised that as an experienced traveler you don’t know the trick for dealing with rude foreigners:

    Learn words in their own language to express dissatisfaction with them!

    For Russians, simply say “Chiho!” (quiet) and “Uhodi!” (Go away!) With your western accent, it’s clear you learned these words JUST for them and the shame factor is hilarious.

    I learn all these “useful” phrases whenever I set foot into a country because it’s hilarious when they hear them coming from me. They expect me to know “thank you” and “good morning” but to hear some of the harsh phrases they use with each other is a shock and surprise.

  269. Joe D. says:

    Patrick, I dont know if anyone keeps the stats, but I would bet that more people who fly regularly have their first-class experiences “runied” (for lack of a better word) by adults, rather than children.

  270. Brian Anderson says:

    This is an example of a phenomenon that has been ascendant since the “me generation” became old enough to vote – the tyranny of the minority. When coupled with a powerful sense of entitlement it enables anyone to become the center of their own little universe. The failure to consider that there are other people who will be tormented by your screaming progeny in an enclosed space for more than a dozen hours is not mitigated by whatever stress you voluntarily agreed to endure when you chose to become a parent.

    The ultimate (so far) example of this attitude can be seen in the case of Fae Platten, who stopped breathing on a Ryanair flight because she has a hyper-allergy to peanuts. Her parents seem to think it’s reasonable to demand dictatorial control over the snacking habits of several hundred other people, and risked the life of their child when this belief collided against reality (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2724684/Nut-allergy-girl-went-anaphylactic-shock-plane-passenger-ignored-three-warnings-not-eat-nuts-board.html).

    This combination of self-centeredness and arrogance is almost institutionalized, to the point that it now provides an endless supply of raw material for “mommyjacking” anecdotes (http://www.stfuparentsblog.com/post/59490967155/mommyjacking-the-childfree-life). It’s time for everyone to grow up and remember what we all used to know intuitively – the philosophical basis for civilization is not “me first”.

    • Jeff Latten says:

      Well-said,Brian. It has become a ‘me’ world. Rude and inconsiderate behavior is everywhere, manifested by adults and kids (who are mainly just following the examples they see). Manners are gone. People think nothing of elbowing you out of their way instead of “excuse me, please..” The kids are just mimicking what they see, as kids will do. Screaming infants are another story; they’re too young to mimic, so I think they should be sedated and checked in as baggage.

    • Bob says:

      Even worse: parents expect that your wallet is an open pocket book to subsidize their kids. They use the collective force of government to take money from one person to subsidize their kids “public” ie government education.

  271. Randall says:

    As others have suggested, perhaps having separate sections for kids and no kids would help, just as we used to have smoking sections. Kids will always be there as long as they (or their parents) can pay.
    Some airlines (Emirates, Turkish and Virgin come to mind) have had great in-flight goody-bags for kids, with toys, coloring books, etc.
    Obnoxious adults can be asked to settle down, and occasionally end up in a jump seat with plasticuffs. Not much you can do when someone else’s kid goes off. But regardless of class, we have been annoyed by others’ children only a few times (< 1 flight in ten). Most of our long-hauls were between the Middle East, Europe, and the US.
    The real mystery is why some parents do not recognize that managing their kids is in their own interest. We regularly traveled long-haul with our kids for ten years while living overseas. We explained everything ahead of time, gave them stuff to do, helped them clear their ears, and tried hard to get them to sleep comfortably. Doing anything to bug other passengers was off limits. When they sleep, we get to sleep. When all else fails, in-flight video and games will generally pacify them. Our kids enjoy flying. Even if we did not care about other passengers, quiet, happy kids always make our lives easier.
    We have advised many (inexperienced?) parents of babies screaming during departure or approach that, after baby takes a breath and starts the next scream, fingers clamped momentarily over the mouth and nose will equalize pressure, popping the ears and giving relief.
    As for those who say, "why not just have dogs?", that is remarkably off-topic, condescending, and self-centered. Raising children varies in details, but is common to all cultures, full of joys, frustrations, moments of triumph and pride, and espisodes of sheer incompetence. We would not trade our two boys for anything, and we are profoundly grateful to our parents for our lives. Keep in mind, if some procreator did not raise kids, you would not exist. My offspring will someday be paying for your Medicare and social security.
    May all the children on your next flight be quiet ones.

    • PolishKnight says:

      I’m glad I read all the comments. If there’s one horrid rationalization for having children, it’s:

      “My offspring will someday be paying for your Medicare and social security.”

      In other words, they’re going to keep a ponzi scheme going much like the real estate bubble. And when social security and medicaid go bankrupt, Patrick is going to become soylent green.

      The government STOLE our social security and medicare money from the “lockbox” (their term) and then spent it on their cronies and destructive social programs. It’s GONE. So now, robbing future generations is a rationalize for their existence. “You’ll be robbing my kids someday so be thankful for them!”

      In the meantime, with 6 billion and counting, we have more than enough people already. The countries people want to move to are in a some ways suicidal: They’re having fewer children and then the countries on the brink of disaster are moving like locusts to countries that are acting responsibly. Why should I recycle and care about the environment when a family of 10 thinks I owe them a living? Perhaps if I made a mess of things, they’d go away!

  272. Aija Silina says:

    Mr. Pilot,

    I LOVED your book, hated when it ended. Love your blog – never bothered to follow A blog before, and while reading your book I laughed my ass off with you and learned as you explained things, thinking – now this guy really is an awesome, real, funny guy. I also spent 15 years of my life in Boston and consider it my home – I grew up in Latvia. But this thing about kids in business class – look: I have a friend who has only dogs and never had kids and she always says – nothing a little whiskey wouldn’t fix. Was your experience in business class really that bad? I have flown first class (once) and business class ( a few times) but mostly I fly coach and my typical experience flying to Riga from the US to see my family is that first connecting flight is great, then you get tired as you get on the overseas flight, 2/3ds of the flight in usually you can’t handle the babies in the back crying, and just when you think it can’t get any worse – one of them throws up and the whole cabin now smells like puke and you are extatic to get off the plane, providing no one goes nuts – as it once happened, as a big black woman got up somewhere over the area of Halifax and started screaming that Jesus was coming and we had to land in Canada somehwere, I don’t remember where.

    But my point is this – look, you are a professional, and I am a professional. I know you have kids and I have kids. Mine happens to be 3 now, When she was 8 months we were the model citizens you write about – we flew and she was in coach, happy and sleeping, and everyone was happy. Now that she is 3, a toddler is a toddler, and with my best intentions sometimes shit happens. All I am saying is – I don’t think airlines should keep all the families in the back where it SUCKS to fly. I think the families who can pay enough for business class seats should have their own section with sound proof walls in business class. Maybe you as a pilot can pitch this idea further. I have flown coach across the Atlantic in the last 20 years more times than I care to and the times I got to go business and the one time first class – it was an amazing experience. And next time I fly – I wish my daughter can join me in business class along with the comfort of everyone there, but I agree – the tantrums toddlers can throw are just awful. And no matter what kind of parenting you do, they will happen, as you know. So – how about that – a separate sound proof wall for a family in business and first class passengers? Everyone in their own cubby. And moms get extra wine. That’s another subject.

  273. Jeffrey Latten says:

    Hi, cap. Looks like you stirred up a firestorm here but I am totally with you on this. If it were my call, I’d require kids to be checked in as baggag!

  274. Peter says:

    I do NOT understand why anyone would want children when they could have a dog!

  275. Lee says:

    Here’s one for you – I’m settled comfy into a JetBlue seat and the woman behind me starts shuffling cards – loudly – each one like a shot going off. Ten minutes later it’s obvious she’s not shuffling to play, she’s shuffling to shuffle and will not stop. So I move to an empty seat a few rows up and the flight attendant scolds me because I’ve moved to a row with extra legroom!

  276. smartnsweet1 says:

    Wow. So many issues. Frankly, I’ll go meta here, and state that we are all struggling with a world that has changed mightily in the past 30 years. A world that has seen globalization and intermingling of many different cultures, a world that has seen massive population growth, a world that has valued civility, manners, and a sense of community less and less. Violence in the media and in real life that has spiked aggressiveness. A regression in living standards for the American middle and working class. Poverty, hopelessness, and infection before our eyes. And we don’t witness these changes from the imperial perch of a colonial power, but from the sliding slope to a more feudal society that broadcasts to us that we are no longer part of the elite. The frustration and the desire to capture, if only for a few hours, an experience that helps us feel special once again. We are all anxious, irritable, and angry, adults and children alike, because we no longer “matter” in a capitalist society in which money has displaced community as the only measure of value and self-worth. And the future looks ever more grim.

  277. Dana Levin says:

    The issue here is questionable parenting. From experience years ago, my wife and I, if taking youngsters on a long flight, would purposely tire them out before the flight. Parents generally know how their children will behave. There are many things that can be done before the flight to tire out the little tykes. Once infants get over pressurization changes in the aircraft, feed them, put blankets on them, warm them up and they will go night night.

    Today, it just seems many parents don’t care, they are too busy with their own well being to be a good parent, and unfortunately, you, me and many other passengers pay the price for bad parenting.

    On a side note about rude passengers, just last week, as my flight was being pushed back from the gate, I felt pushing on the back of my seat, presumed passenger was just getting comfy. It kept going, so I turned to my right, and there it was in all it’s glory, a bare foot on my arm rest, next to window. So I turned to the middle age woman behind me and asked “really”? She didn’t move her foot, so I raised my voice and told her she has 2 seconds to remove her foot before I ring the flight attendant call button. She did, but scowled at me. It’s really unbelievable how bad passengers are behaving these days!

  278. Jane Meyer says:

    Patrick!
    I am so sad! We have corresponded about my son the airplane enthusiast and for you to question whether or not he should be allowed in business class is heartbreaking! We have had the good fortune to be able to use miles and/or benefit from low business class fares ($1700 to Lima!) and I can tell you that he remembers them with a joy I cannot convey. Coming home from Istanbul last year there were some kids on the opposite side of the plane who were playing with their electronic toys at full volume; their parents saying nothing. My kids were silent, enjoying the entertainment system, food and full recline seats. I spoke to the flight attendant. It is not about the kids, it is about the parents. When it comes to babies, well they make noise. I hated it when I had babies and I hate it now. But if the family pays the fare, whether with miles or dollars, they have the same rights as you! If you want the kind of luxury that allows you to avoid anything that might be upsetting to you, take a PRIVATE plane. Anything else is public.

  279. Bob says:

    Should children be banned from the first 10 rows of coach too? Just in case they cry and bother the rich folks?

  280. Cyra says:

    So basically what you’re saying is because you have no kids and paid for the seat you have a right to enjoy and take advantage of the amenities more so than parents with kids who probably paid more for it than you did? If you’re going by the amount you paid for something as a single flyer as justification for your rights over others than I would think that the parents have more of a right to that space than you do because they most likely paid more than you.

    • Patrick says:

      No, that isn’t at all what I’m saying. Everybody in the cabin is entitled to the same level of comfort.

      I knew certain people were going to turn this into a parents versus non-parents debate. Whether or not you have kids has NOTHING to do with the issue. Just because you’re traveling with a child doesn’t mean you have a “right” to make the experience miserable for everybody around you.

      • Jenny says:

        These discussions nearly always devolve into pro and anti child (and parent) debates. I follow the topic closely because I am an American expat in Sydney with a preschooler. We generally fly business class on Qantas for our biannual trips home to see the grandparents, with occasional premium economy flights if they are out of pocket. At any rate, I am dismayed by the attitude we get from many of our fellow passengers upon just seeing us with our son. We’ve had several people ask to be moved away from us before the flight even started. The funny thing is that my kid is an ace flyer. He’s a gold frequent flyer and knows the drill. First thing, we get his sports bottle out for his ears. Then shoes off. In economy, shoes off, and a discussion about kicking the seat. Then we settle Teddy in next to him, and open a new coloring book with new crayons. Once we we’re aloft we watch a movie, eat dinner and he’s out shortly thereafter. He has to take travel sickness meds, which help him sleep. Anyway, we are routinely complimented by crew and fellow passengers. The kid is a boss at flying. When you suggest banning children from business, it gives credence to the idea that my son is less valuable a customer than you. He pays the same (or greater) fare, he’s a premium flyer, and he’s a nice kiddo. We find the extra space for sleeping, cuddling, quietly playing, and especially the larger bathrooms to be worth it. Every time someone like you – especially you, who are respected and listened to – suggests a ban on kids in premium class, it stokes the fires of this debate and makes it that much harder to be living overseas. It isn’t as if we could forgo flying. We have no choice. This whole debate is frustrating, and I hope the comments you’ve read by parents here help you see the flip side of the argument.

        • PolishKnight says:

          Jenny,

          I think it also helps to say “good morning” and greet fellow fliers if you have concerns they might be a burden. Hopefully, they’ll think twice before they start letting their kid run rampant if the nice man that said good morning to them and offered chocolates is now being imposed upon.

          Manners isn’t just “staying out of trouble”, it’s also about greeting people and basic friendliness. Saying “Gesunteit” if someone sneezes. These customs remind us that other people matter and care about us making it easier to live up to manners rather than as a burden.

  281. Tod Davis says:

    Maybe more airlines should take on the idea of Etihad with their flying nanny program.

  282. Wm Wesson says:

    While reading this article I was mostly impressed with the fact that it was not the ugly American causing the problem. While traveling around in the USA you start to think it is only Americans that have become insensitive and rude. I am glad it is not only us.

  283. Nick says:

    I’m a little uncomfortable with the framing of this issue as one where parents whose kids are noisy are negligent — as I think Pablo points out upthread, this drastically overestimates parental control over the situation.

    I think that Patrick’s article is marred by a serious error — he assumes that the amenities of business class that appeal to him are the only amenities being sold. They aren’t. Business class also appeals to parents, because it has more space, more convenience, and better facilities for taking care of young children. They paid more to get these — I assure you, parents with several kids aren’t going to be enjoying the movies, the library-like decor, or the booze, they are taking advantage of elbow room, walking room, a cleaner bathroom, and more space for their kids to wave dinosaur toys about. It’s too bad that Patrick’s flight gets ruined; but that’s the problem with public space, it belongs to everyone.

    Is business class public space? I’m not sure — but it is ‘public’ in one sense, that it is a place where we rub elbows with people we don’t know. Should that be controlled? In America, the only answer to that question is “if you’re willing to pay for it”. I’ve got not problem with people paying extra, or choosing airlines that regulate this issue and adjust their prices to reflect the cost of doing so. Patrick’s article seems to assume, though, that what he is paying for is self-evident, and what the parents paid for shouldn’t exist.

  284. John says:

    Not really sure what your complaint is…you paid a cheap price and you got a cheap flight experience. 2500 from bkk-JFK is practically and economy fare…and you want a champagne experience? Next time, try flying Singapore airlines at 10k and I guarantee you there won’t be any screaming kids on e plane or in the lounge.

    • Patrick says:

      It doesn’t matter what I paid. It was business class — that’s the point — and I’m sure there were passengers sitting around me who paid a lot more.

      Nobody in any premium class ought to be subjected to a shrieking kid for thirteen hours.

      Or any class, period, for that matter. But if there’s something to do be done about the issue, you start at the front.

      • John says:

        Patrick

        As you yourself state, most of the premium class passengers now days aren’t paying for their seats. This is especially true on American carriers, with their extensive mileage and affiliate programs, which are co-branded with all sorts of credit cards and other schemes, and which allow decidedly non-premium passengers to wangle their way to the front of the plane. These people could never afford to purchase with their own funds and as they rarely fly in this class, tend to make the most of it with their eating, drinking, and often oaffish behavior. So who is to blame for this, I blame the airlines for allowing their premium class product to become a debased commodity and up for grabs like a cheap carnival prize for the credit-card spending masses.

        I agree that for people like you and me, who actually pay our own way on the front of the plane, these people and their accompanying rug-rats can be a real PITA. However, I do feel your experience was rather exceptional. In maybe a dozen c-class BKK-SFO-BKK runs over the past decade, I have never run into the situation you describe. In fact, I can’t even remember the last time I had even a teenager, let alone a baby, on one of my flights. However, in an abundance of caution, I’m all in favor of banning babies and children in the front of the plane.

      • Nick says:

        I’m a little surprised that you’re willing to state that people with less money may be inopportuned for 13 hours by a shrieking kid, while the rich may not. Honestly, is that really your opinion?

  285. shirley says:

    on flight back fr switzerland to ny, a kid keep kicking the back of my chair. i have a bad back and fibromyalgia. every time that kid kicked the chair, i was in agony. kept turning around and giving the parents/the kid the fish eye. finally after one vicious kick. i just started screaming. in pain. as they had an empty seat in first class, they thankfully moved me. what the heck has happened to discipling kids in this country. some small air line that would only fly adults and kids over 12 would make a fortune. and yes thank goodness i childfree by choice

  286. James B says:

    I sympathize. I’ve got 3.2 million lifetime miles on American Airlines alone, and an equal amount on other airlines combined (JAL, BA, Qantas, etc). So I know exactly what you are talking about.

    Here’s my solution:

    http://www.etymotic.com/ephp/mc5.html

    I never travel without my Etymotic MC5 earbuds. They cost less than $100 have fantastic fidelity, and the secure triple-baffle fit means you’ll never have to seethe over screaming children again.

    Also excellent for ignoring seatmates who want to talk about their grandkids, for ignoring pilots who drone on about how much they appreciate my business, and flight attendants talking about their spirit of aloha.

  287. Augie March says:

    My personal view is that unless you’re actually emigrating, there is no reason for small children ever to fly. Don’t bother taking them on your holidays, they won’t appreciate the scenery and culture and would be happier at home in front of the TV. If you want to introduce them to family members overseas, send your family the money and have them fly to you to see the kids; or if that proves too expensive, Skype.

    Being in a holding pattern over London for 45 minutes waiting for congestion to clear at Heathrow while half a dozen children with popping ears screamed their heads off after a mostly sleepless 23 hour flight from Australia was one of the least pleasant experiences in my life. And that was in economy. Patrick, you have my full sympathies.

  288. Martin says:

    Airlines could alleviate a LARGE part of the problem by providing educational materials for parents about how to fly with children. A simple booklet that the flight attendant hands to a parent with an infant could explain the basics, such as when to expect changes in cabin pressure and how to have sucking material on hand to help get the kid swallowing and keep her ears cleared. A “manners” page could reinforce to parents that the seat in front of their child is connected to a human occupant. And the pilot – hey, that’s you, Patrick! – could come on about 5 minutes before starting the descent and say, “Hi parents, I want to let you know that we’ll be starting down in a little while, and your little one might experience some discomfort due to the change in cabin pressure, so this would be a great time to have a bottle prepared, or get into a comfortable nursing position.”

    An even more clever airline would carry a selection of pacifiers in the galley that a flight attendant could offer to a parent with a screaming baby. Imagine coming home from a trip with a pacifier with the airline’s logo on it, and seeing that logo in front of your darling’s face every day (and in photos that go on Facebook) until he outgrows it, bringing back memories of the kind flight attendant on Airline X. After the kid turns two, the parents will be paying full fare for their child’s seat, so this small investment by the airline could end up in thousands of dollars in repeat custom per grateful family. Any airline that likes this idea can send royalty checks to…

    Airlines could also carry activity books for kids, perhaps even with a focus on air travel that gently gets home important messages, such as what space on a plane is yours, how noise travels, and how nice it is to nap in flight. It is in everyone’s interest for kids to be made aware of how to fly, and to have the equipment at their disposal to do it well. My daughter pores over the safety info card for many minutes, trying to decode the cartoons about the brace position and oxygen masks. How much more time would she spend thinking about a comic character who was having their seat banged by an obnoxious ghoul playing with a tray table behind them?

    When my daughter was 22 months, we flew from our home in Europe to the eastern US, and then onward to Honolulu. Though we’d flown several times with her before, we knew that a total of 44 hours scheduled in airplanes was a ridiculous imposition on her life. No control over when it would be noisy or bright or time to stand in a line, hours of dry air at unusually thin pressure, nowhere to run to burn energy. In preparation, we bought her a book about airplanes and airports, and read it enthusiastically almost every night for a month. By the time we got to the first airport, she was totally stoked for “check-in desk” and “security”, and knew damn well that she couldn’t play with the tray tables or kick the seat in front of her. For the Newark – Honolulu segment, which I believe is the longest US domestic flight you can get, a friend upgraded us. As soon as we sat down, the entitled woman behind us started complaining loudly about how she couldn’t believe that babies were allowed in first, and even lobbied the flight attendant to get us moved back to economy. We had to listen to this woman carry on for hours, until she finally quieted down enough to let our baby fall asleep for three blissful hours. Meanwhile, our little girl behaved absolutely perfectly for the entire 11 hours, perhaps in part because there was enough room for her to move around.

    On the other hand, I distinctly remember being jarred from sleep on one long haul flight and having to turn around and say to the 50-something behind me, “Sir, could you please use your indoor voice?”

    My daughter is now four, and continues to be a better flier than many adults. In fact, she and I were on a little trip just this weekend, and she was an absolutely delightful travel companion. For the parent, it comes down to anticipating the kid’s needs and being prepared – having a special muffin at the ready, a few coloring and activity books, some excitement about what is happening in the flight experience (e.g., notable moments such as “arm doors and cross check”, starting the take-off roll, getting airborne, seatbelt sign, starting the descent, flaps, letting down the wheels). Again, things that the airline could point out in an in-flight brochure, or send an “about flying with children” email to anyone who books a seat for a youngster.

    Wag of the finger to any airline that won’t give free water to a thirsty kid, e.g. EasyJet on a four hour flight – you want a screaming kid AND a screaming parent? A little human understanding would make life a lot more comfortable for everyone on board, short term thinking to earn a few extra bucks by selling water be damned.

    Tip of the hat to Czech Airlines for the little coloring book and colored pencils they give to their young passengers.

    Tip of the hat to Turkish Airlines, which includes in its script when you land, “Ladies and gentlemen and dear children, welcome to ….”, in addition to giving tasty food and yummy yoghurt drinks even on 45 minute flights. Any wonder my daughter can identify a Turkish Airlines plane 500 meters away at a busy airport? “Dear children” – really, if you take the attitude that these are little humans trying to get from point A to point B just like everyone else on the plane, then the question isn’t how to penalize them for their natural needs, but how to predict their needs and prepare for them in a way that leaves everyone flying as happily as possible.

  289. Craig says:

    I and several friends with young children have often discussed strategies to mitigate the effect our children might have on others. I think, then, a lot is simply how the parents approach the issue.

    And for those instances when it all hits the fan, I bring a bag of 80 foam earplugs (quite compact!) to hand out. It’s not a perfect solution, but I figure it demonstrates that we’re not insensitive to others, perhaps generates at least a modicum of goodwill, and certainly good karma.

  290. JuliaZ says:

    As a parent, I would never put up with that from my kid! If you’re ever in that situation again, might I suggest this… stand up, turn around to the little girl, and say, “I know you’re really bored and want to get off the plane. Me too. Did you know that every time you kick the seat, you are hurting me? Please stop kicking the seat.” Kids almost always will behave when another adult asks them to, if they’ve been raised with even a shred of decency at all. You might get dirty looks from the parents, but WHO CARES?

    I am not shy about telling other people’s kids off if they won’t or don’t do it. It takes a village, and all that, and also, stop annoying me. If you’re not mean to the child but take a moment to educate her about what she’s doing, she might do something different. Of course, you would score massive points if you whip out a few pieces of paper and a pencil or highlighter for her to draw with….. I really feel sorry for kids whose parents are too lazy or ignorant to make the effort to make flying a fun thing.

  291. J says:

    So the high and mighty people in business and first class should be spared from noisy kids but screw the plebes who can only afford coach? What makes you better than me? It’s not like coach fares are bargain basement prices, everyone is paying through the nose for their tickets no matter what class.

    • Simon says:

      Actually, on average flying has probably never been cheaper.

    • Patrick says:

      For the record, I ride in economy class far more frequently than I travel in first or business, so I understand your point, and I feel that NOBODY, in any class, ought to be subject to a shrieking kid for thirteen hours. But, if you’re going to address this issue, it only makes sense to start at the front of the cabin and work backwards. The difference is that economy class riders are paying for TRANSPORTATION. First and business class riders are paying for COMFORT, or even luxury. And they are paying a MUCH higher fare for this.

      As for your comment about “paying through the nose,” I couldn’t disagree more. Flying has never been cheaper than it is today.

    • Bob says:

      You are correct. First class pays exponentially more for a ticket, thus a better experience.

  292. Simon says:

    Congrats Patrick on daring to say what so many think. It’s funny how some procreators like to talk about humanity and decency, yet have no problem inconveniencing their entire surroundings because they’re simply too lazy to perform some actual parenting.

    Children cry and scream, no doubt. We all did at some point. But parents can be expected to make every effort to minimize the disturbance this causes to others, especially in confined areas where we can’t just ‘walk away’. It’s called common courtesy. It’s practiced every day in many places by all kinds of people. Head to Japan for an excellent example if you have any doubts. So it’s definitely possible and if you try but don’t succeed, well fine. But not even trying? That’s just a big FU to everybody else.

    Like you, Patrick, I would chose an airline that refuses to sell business tickets to children over an airline that wants to weasel around the issue. And if none wants to sell me that, well I can spend my money on other nice items and just watch more airlines go out of business. Their call.

    Regarding lounges though, IMHO there’s just too much mob in these places nowadays. Guys like your Putin. Misbehaved annoying people you’d just rather not be around. My guess is many people these days are there because of miles. Miles they got with lots of cheap flights or on business travel they didn’t pay for. I’d like to see separate lounges for actual paying customers (business, first). Then let the miles collectors go score free booze, fight over the last snack, and display all other forms of obnoxiousness among the rest of the mob in another place.

  293. David says:

    I would like to suggest a simple yet effective solution: noise-cancelling headsets!

  294. JK says:

    Hi Patrick:

    My though is that passengers who wish to travel with children in first and business class need to be incentivized to travel together. Likewise, passengers who *do not* wish to travel with children in first and business class need to be incentivized to do the same. This approach can also be applied to the actual flight as well as the premium class lounges.

    -JK

  295. Ben says:

    Hi Patrick – I’m a huge fan of yours. Keep up the great, and entertaining writing. I think though, as some other posters have pointed out, this is really an issue of parents not being respectful. I live outside of the U.S., and we travel between there and Europe, and have done so 2x with our now nearly 1-year old, to see family. We’ve been lucky enough to get Premium Economy seats, but trust me, if there is a good deal, or it would be possible to upgrade, we’d go business. BUT, and here is the huge but…Anyone who sits there and lets their kids run around or scream (for more than a minute max) is not being sensitive at all to their fellow passengers. The moment our little one acts up, that’s it – she’s in my arms, we take a tour of the plane, we chat with the flight attendants if they aren’t busy, I show her the galleys, hang out by the back doors, talk to her, play with her, and generally distract her. I know parents are tired and want to ‘relax’ on the flight, but you simply can’t. That’s the deal when flying with little kids. And the reason I would rather be ‘less relaxed’ in biz vs. economy? It’s easier to get up and out, the aisles are slightly wider for walking, and it allows Mom (or maybe even dad) to catch a catnap here and there on a more comfortable seat. Having said that, fully agree it’s ridiculous to be as disturbed as you were on your recent trip, and I do think parents need to be MUCh more sensitive to fellow passengers. In other news, heading to Logan next week – like you, I really like the international terminal there!

  296. Laurie Ang says:

    Let me put it this way – there would have been no way for that business class ticket to cost just $2500 if it wasn’t for those parents who paid the same (or more) for their children’s tickets. So next time you see a child in business/first go thank his parent(s).

    • Simon says:

      Capitalism much? Higher demand makes for higher prices, not the other way around.

      If all those parents with their kids would have opted for Y class instead, Patrick would have gotten an even better deal.

  297. Don Beyer says:

    Theren are so many things that are far more useful, important or permanent in this world to spend thousands of dollars on than something as useless as sitting in a bigger seat for 8-15 hours when the cheap one will get you there just as fast. If you are willing to spend that much extra money for a plane ride, buy a coach seat and give what the first class ticket would cost in money or miles so someone who really needs to fly somewhere now and can’t afford a walk up fare.

    • Sarah says:

      You said “Theren are so many things that are far more useful, important or permanent in this world to spend thousands of dollars on than something as useless as sitting in a bigger seat for 8-15 hours when the cheap one will get you there just as fast. If you are willing to spend that much extra money for a plane ride, buy a coach seat and give what the first class ticket would cost in money or miles so someone who really needs to fly somewhere now and can’t afford a walk up fare.”

      Don’t be ridiculous. If he wants to spend his money flying business class than he can. And why should he give his hard earned money to someone who can’t afford to buy a ticket? His point is that he enjoys the experience of first class travel and wanted to experience it on this airline. Since you like useless advice that is judgmental and holier than thou, I have a suggestion. Why don’t you spend the time you are using reading articles on line and commenting on helping homeless people in your community. If you have a few minutes downtime you can use it in the most efficient way possible. You should give all that time to someone who really needs assistance instead of being a selfish jerk and judging others on websites.

    • Antony says:

      Don Beyer – I must assume you are a person of short stature as if you were 6’2″ you would realise that sitting at the back of the plane for a long haul flight is just not on!!

  298. Stephen R. Stapleton says:

    Not too many years ago, I was flying with my boyfriend to visit his parents for Christmas. Unfortunately, his parents lived in Winter Springs, FL, just outside of Orlando. Thus, we were to fly in and out of the airport for Disney World. Yes, a flight to Disney World over Christmas break in warm Florida. Thus, knowing the flight would be crawling with children, I booked us into first class. We actually had seats 1 and 2, as far from the maddening youthful crowd as I could manage. If I could, I’d have paid handsomely to be on the other side of the flight deck door.
    As we waited in the first class lounge, I was horrified to see a man and women bring in their two pre-school or kindergarten age children. Then, worse, I realized the women was Téa Leoni and her husband David Duchovny — actors! I assume the children were Madelaine and Kyd. I foresaw endless hours and these two Hollywood stars let their children run rampant without any supervision. Instead, much to my surprise, Ms. Leoni was a wonderful attentive mother who kept her children occupied and blessedly quiet. She had snacks (healthy ones, too, from what I could see, poor things) and games that she pulled out of a clearly prepared bag, something like Mary Poppins. The children never made a sound I could hear. This continued on the flight. Rarely have I seen such well behaved children and rarely have I seen such positive, active parenting. Mr. Duchovny reminded me of Vera Charles in the morning, but he seemed to perk up eventually and played and even read to the kids. Honestly, whatever troubles this couple has, from what I could see, they are great parents.
    Still, I want to propose a solution that was in widespread use many years ago in movie theaters. Theaters had a cry room, generally located opposite the projection room at the back of the house. It was separated from the auditorium by thick, soundproofing windows that kept the noise in the cry room, but allowed people to still see the screen. There was a speaker to carry the sound track into the room. When a child cried or got to fussy, the mother (in those days, it was the mother) took the child to the cry room until he’d settled down. I think planes should have a small room in the very back of the plane for people to take their noisy children.

  299. Richard says:

    I try hard not to think about this issue in terms of who has an intrinsic “right” to what. Airline tickets are just commercial transactions. People have a right to whatever product the airline has agreed to sell them. In most cases, airlines will sell business-class tickets for small children, which means that other travelers in J don’t have a reasonable expectation of a child-free cabin. If airlines want to change their policy, then that’s their prerogative. They own the plane.

    Having said this, I don’t understand why airlines don’t try to accommodate both groups. Lots of widebody layouts have multiple sections to their J cabins, separated by galleys or lavs. Why not restrict young children to one of these cabins, and sell tickets in the other as child-free?

    • J.D. says:

      I’m guessing that selling one cabin as “child-free” would hurt the airline’s bottom line. What happens if the child-friendly cabin fills up, and the only people who want to buy the last few tickets on the plane are a family? I’m guessing that the number of ticket sales the airline would have to forego is greater than the number of child-free people who would buy tickets on the airline just because of the child-free cabin.

      I remember reading an article recently stating that almost all air travel decisions in coach class are made on the basis of price, anyway. When you’re crammed in like sardines, a slightly quieter cabin isn’t much of a perk.

  300. Pablo says:

    Patrick, your idea of what business class should be like is heavily influenced by your childless status. But childless people are not the only people flying. Parents are as much a customer as you are and they pay for business class for reasons other than yours. Your preference for silence doesn’t trump their preference for making their fligh more bearable (for themselves and for their children).

    I’m sorry that your trip was made less enjoyable by the fact that you live in the world. Life is tough and sometimes you don’t get what you want. That’s what I teach my kids anyway.

    • Childfree says:

      Hi Pablo – first, this isn’t a childfree vs parent argument. Secondly, no rational person is upset at the child, including Patrick. It is the lack of adult supervision or attention to a screaming child’s needs that has us upset. That has nothing to do with our status as parents or not, but rather, of our ability to recognize that our behaviors (including those of children) impact others around us.

      Last month, I was on a middle seat with a husband and wife on either side of me. Directly behind me was the loudest kid I’ve ever heard, maybe 3 or 4. Mom and Dad were ignoring the shrieks, and carrying on like nothing was wrong. While the sound was most certainly nails on a chalkboard to me, I felt worse that a young child was in distress. The cries were not like anything I had ever heard before, and nobody was taking any efforts to calm her down/comfort her. Finally, the wife I was sitting next to asked if she could sit next to her husband, would I mind taking the window seat? Sure, no problem I said. When we stood up to switch around, the parents in the row behind me said, “Are you sure you want to sit there?” I was amazed that they finally seemed to be aware that the entire flight was cringing at the sound of their crying child. Not knowing what to say, I commented that I had noise cancelling headphones, so I’d be fine. Then I got a lecture from the non-attentive parents. “What does that mean? Our child is NOT loud!”. *sigh* I sat down and put on my headphones (which are worthless against a child’s screams), only to find out that why the woman had wanted to move and what the parents behind me warned me about was the child was kicking the back of the seat repeatedly. Like the screaming, this went unaddressed by the parents.

      Being a parent or not, you have to understand that situations like this make flying horrible. Children need to travel too. They will cry. They will shriek. They may even kick a seat back. But a parent who ignores this behavior because they want to make the flight bearable for themselves at the expense of the comfort of strangers is unacceptable

      • Pablo says:

        Hello, Childfree.

        I don’t wish to make this a parents vs. non-parents fight. It’s Patrick who has created a division. As if the world could be sanitized for those with no kids and some money. As if those with kids should be more willing to accept restrictions.
        Patrick is proposing a blanket ban on kids in business and first class on the pretext that you should travel in those only if you wish for increased quietness, not if, for example, you decide to spend more money to get more room and comfort for the whole family (mind you, a comfortable kid is a happier kid, a happier kid is a quieter kid). I.e. Patrick assumes that there is only one way to measure comfort: the childless traveller way. And that this point of view should be favoured by the airlines.
        I condemn in the strongest possible terms parents who don’t do their job. I suffer them as much as any other passenger.
        However, I do have observed that people with no experience raising kids tend to have a very distorted view of what good parenting is. And what to expect, in behaviour terms, from a young child. Young children are noisy. By default. Those who are not are exceptions. And there is very little you can do to prevent a kid from being noisy in a confined cabin. You can do some things (one of them is paying for more space), but sometimes it is impossible. Some other times, you might have to do things that might upset your fellow passengers (let a kid run up and down the aisle), in the knowledge that any other measure (like punishment, telling-off, beating with a baseball bat, etc.) will only make the child more obnoxious (she will start screaming and kicking the backrest).
        An inconvenienced passenger tends to blame the parents for being too lazy, too lenient. He might wish they would just bloody smack the damn kid. In reality, that passenger is throwing a silent tantrum. He is mad with frustration, can’t do anything about it and is focused on being angry instead of on accepting life as it bloody is. The parents are equally mad, equally frustrated, but have learned to channel that frustration through effective action. Occasionally, that action looks like mis-parenting. Usually, however, it is in fact the best course of action they can think of to have the quietest flight possible. Quietest, of course, doesn’t mean quiet.

        • Patrick says:

          I have not “created a division.” All I’m saying is that it’s unacceptable to have somebody SCREAMING on an airplane for 13 hours. And it’s ESPECIALLY unacceptable in business class. How you address this, I’m not sure.

          • Pablo says:

            Ah, that is the philosophical crux of the matter. What do you mean “acceptable”? Everything (even one’s own death) is acceptable. The onus is on you to accept what life throws at you. Neither the airline, nor the kid, nor the parents (bad at their parenting job as they may be) are inconveniencing you on purpose.
            If you mean “unbearable”, yes, you are right. A 13 hour screaming fit is unbearable (an impossibility too, but let’s not dwell on that). I of course recognize that a particularly noisy kid can make any flight unbearable.
            But sh!t happens sometimes. A blanket ban is no solution. In fact, it looks a lot like a TSA kind sort of solution.
            I recognize that there is a conflict here and, as much as you, would like to see it solved. But as a solution I’m not proposing a ban on childless passengers in business class. Or a ban on people with too much perfume on (this is an issue not be laughed at, it can make you seriously sick to travel next to an over-scented person).
            Sometimes you have a bad flight. Even in business class. People generally try to be respectful of their fellow passengers. Those who don’t stand out spectacularly, but let’s not punish those who do try their best, even if it doesn’t look like it.

          • Tom Hill says:

            The issue is not where to seat the screaming child. The issue is twofold: irresponsible parents and flight crew who are unwilling to assist children in distress. That being said, I am often struck by the self righteousness of those who choose to have children and their complete unwillingness to consider those who do not.

        • JimBob says:

          What makes people tolerant of their own children’s behavior on a flight is the fact that you can’t be kicked out of an airplane in flight. Any decent restaurant will ask parents to control their children (if children are allowed in the first place) or please leave as they are disturbing other paying customers. Flyers know that airlines aren’t going to throw them off the plane, even before the flight leaves, because there is no one else to fill that seat. So, as on the Internet where people are free to let the worst of themselves out of its cage under cover of anonymity, people who fundamentally don’t give a shite about the comfort and/or convenience of others permit themselves to bring children aboard who haven’t been prepared for the strictures of confinement and then to indulge them completely when they react accordingly because, after all, “What are you going to do about it?” That’s what bothers me. I had two children (well, I still do, but they’re grown). When we traveled, screaming simply wasn’t on the menu and it wasn’t that challenging to arrange matters so that my family’s presence on the plane didn’t take up ten times the space of those who had paid the same for their ticket. Screaming children on a plane are a reflection of their parents’ insouciance regarding the comfort of others, put on full display because, after all, “What are you going to do about it?”

          • PolishKnight says:

            Ok, when I hear “what are you going to do about it?”, I take that a challenge. And I’m not someone to be challenged!

            I just had a bad neighbor who likes to go outside and smoke and then talk loudly with his friends until the wee hours of morning right next to dozens of other residents’ windows. Going to talk with him would either have him:

            A) Apologize and then try to be quiet and then go back to his normal ways after a week or so.
            B) Have him tell me to go pound sand.
            C) Any future trouble I made about it, he’d know whose car to scratch.

            So I just went out and bought a mosquito bait attractant for a bug zapper and put it under his patio. It attracted every hungry mosquito for a 2 mile radius. I made sure my screens were in place.

            That was the end of his late night jabber fests for a while.

            For the kids, I would consider that their range of hearing is usually higher than ours in the 20khz range. Download an app for your phone, or record some high pitched sounds, and then blast them at the kid when they start to scream. Works on dogs too.

  301. krlr says:

    Assuming you haven’t procreated and that you haven’t been obliged to fly with the minion(s) to visit the grandparents, various theme parks, or a quiet beach, I wouldn’t expect you to understand, but most children not routinely beaten into submission will occasionally act up if tied to one spot for 2+ hours. Most of the time my offspring are good. Sometimes, like after an EIGHT HOUR mechanical, they start to express what we all feel. If I have an extra $5k for first class why for all that that is good and holy in the world would I sit in the bowels of the plane with the unwashed masses? You may not like children but we’re all here after passing thru this awkward stage. Have some humanity. And buy some better earphones if you’re going to be the sensitive sort.

  302. Ben says:

    The problem is that room and luxury go hand in hand on an airplane. I have twin three year old boys. I haven’t flown with them yet, but if I have the financial ability, I would absolutely fly in business class or first class simply for the extra room. Trying to deal with the constant needs of a young child (different toy, different book, wants to sit on my lap, etc.) would be so much worse in the cramped confines of coach.

  303. nicholas Robinson says:

    Well, I can safely say that my well-travelled young tyke was NEVER noisy or disruptive when we (quite frequently) got bumped to business class. He even enjoyed his upscale business-class meal, and, being of Japanese heritage, even ate the strange, hole-filled vegetable on his plate.

    He would dutifully go to sleep about half an hour after service and not wake up until the meal before landing — this on a leg of YVR>KIX.

    Best traveling companion I ever had, bar none. And he was only 4.

    http://www.montrealfood.com/blogvideos/firstjapan.mpg

  304. Robert Zeigler says:

    A roof-top luggage carrier outfitted with tiny seats might be a solution………..

    • Tim says:

      That would be great. The grumps can sit up top, while I look out the window with my son watching the country go by.

      • Robert Zeigler says:

        I’m sure your son is a delight to accompany on such a flight. Sadly, many other kids do nothing but make passengers’ lives miserable, with no relief offered by their “parents”. I’ve been in that position more than once, which spawns my suggestion.

  305. Chris says:

    Hi Patrick,
    I enjoy reading your blog. This is an interesting point you raise. We have been taking our daughter in 1st/business since about the age of 18 months. (Mostly, it has to be said, using airmiles from work travel, but that is a different kettle of fish.) And most of the time her behaviour has been great.
    It’s really a question of the behaviour the parents expect of their children. When we fly I am aware that other people might not appreciate sitting near a child, so of course we go out of our way to make sure that she behaves and has adequate food, sleep and distractions.
    In the end, my money (or indeed, my airmiles) are as good as anyone else’s!

  306. I queried an otorhinolaryngologist (ENT surgeon) about the subject of babies and little kids crying and screaming on airline flights, suspecting that the pediatric eustachian tube – owing to small caliber and other anatomical peculiarities relative to the adult’s middle ear set-up – doesn’t accommodate rapid changes in ambient atmospheric pressure all that well, and he admitted that the conjecture might well hold some validity.

    Might be that they’re crying – even in airport lounges between flights – because they’re in very real pain.

    • Richard says:

      It amazes me that so many parents don’t seem to think of this. I’m 31 and I still sometimes get sore ears on a flight, particularly on a fast descent. Sometimes you can’t stop a child crying – and personally I feel that’s just tough luck for the rest of the passengers provided that parents do what they can – but one thing that so many parents don’t do is try to give the baby or young child a bottle or anything to suck on to help. My mother has long suggested that before take off or landing they suggest that parents with small children may want to consider this to help their ears. After all, most adults seem to understand they may need to do this themselves, so isn’t it logical that a small child is even more likely to need it?

      • RenaissanceLady says:

        When my mother was an “airline hostess” and later “stewardess”, back in the day, they were taught to offer warm compresses (napkins soaked in warm water) to the parents of screaming children, in order to help those children suffering from earaches. To this day, my mother swears by this treatment. I’m certain my flying time when I was a small child was aided by her knowledge.

        Why is this not still taught? Admittedly, my mother’s generation of airline personnel also gave kids Benadryl during such times, but I’d think the warm compress idea would be extremely popular due to its safety and effectiveness. Having just returned from another one of those last-minute trips due to some Extremely Bad Circumstances, I spent considerable time wishing I had been resting while convinced that there was a Colicky Baby Convention in SFO. (My connection to EUG was only slightly better.) Parents and flight attendants should have some idea how to help those little kids who might truly be in pain during a flight. Even those of us who are flying in what might as well be steerage class would benefit from some slight courtesy and comfort.

        • Leslie in Oregon says:

          When I flew as a Pan American purser, this is exactly what I had my crews offer parents, to help their screaming babies or young children. Holding a warm, non-dripping towel or cloth napkin around each ear almost always gave the child enough relief to allow him or her to go to sleep. In eight years of long-haul flying, I never had a child onboard who cried or screamed repeatedly or incessantly for more than a few minutes.

  307. Speed says:

    I guess it’s NetJets for you.

    It could be that you got a great price because full fare first class travelers won’t fly Asiana due to the unregulated bad behavior.

    A solution for the airlines is a Super Duper Class with age and behavior restrictions.

    • Jeff says:

      Netjets!!! You beat me to the suggestion!!! : ) …but in reality one can’t expect a baby/kid free flight unless there is a policy or one owns plane…otherwise one can only HOPE for a kid (and all other annoyances) free experience…i dont care how much the seat cost, if doesn’t come with a kid free guarantee, caveat emptor. Absolutely there should be kid free sections/flights sold at a premium. Makes sense to me from a business and customer standpoint.

  308. JamesP says:

    I also fly up front whenever possible (which means whenever I can sock away enough money). Absolutely, positively, there should be a minimum age for Business and First! I don’t think it should be mandated by law, but I think airlines should voluntarily make a policy of a minimum age – probably 16 (were it up to me, I’d say 21). Given the choice, I would definitely take the airline that offered that.

    They might even consider offering certain flights where that is in effect throughout the plane – “no baby flights” – but I imagine that logistics could make that impractical.

  309. JuliaZ says:

    I’m a parent, but I can’t stand annoying, loud children either. Here’s the thing… those parents with their kids in Business class? They paid to sit there, and they paid for their kids’ tickets too.

    Once in a while, kids, especially babies and toddlers, are going to cry. I don’t let it bother me IF the parents attempt to deal with it, are apologetic, and are otherwise considerate. I’ve BEEN that parent… I took Joanne to France from Seattle at 4.5 months old (she was great, letting us start many years of happy travel to Europe and Asia). I actually brought about 20 pairs of ear plugs with me on that trip just in case she let me down (to hand out to people around us!) I was glad to not need them.

    My son, Felix, is 6 now and I knew he’d be a much iffier traveler. He can’t sit still, he’s loud, etc. I waited until he was nearly 6 before taking him on his first flight, and I spent two months practicing correct airplane behavior with him each time we rode in the car. He was great, and loved flying, and keeps begging to go on “baycation” again. It took a lot of work to get that flight to go well for the people around us, and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a total relief when he behaved himself. (I also limited us to SEA to SFO in case it all went pear-shaped).
    🙂

    It’s the parents who let their kids run amok, litter, cry endlessly, and who otherwise seem oblivious that ruin it for the rest of us. Those aren’t bad children, those are bad PARENTS. I’ve been known to tell those people off directly, and to enlist the help of flight attendants to do the same. People who are inconsiderate of others when they travel with children are no nicer when they travel without them, you just don’t notice it as much because they’re not usually as loud (nail clippers aside).

    You can’t legislate common sense, you can’t sell airline tickets only to people who promise to use common courtesy, so there’s probably no easy answer to this issue. Ruling kids out of a cabin doesn’t fix all the problems… I’ve often been WAY more annoyed by adults than by children.

    Given that, I bring noise-canceling headphones and hope for the best. (And don’t forget, you were an obnoxious toddler/preschooler once, and if your parents wanted to travel, they either had to teach you to travel well, or everyone around you was miserable. I’m guessing that just like me, you were a great traveler from an early age, but that’s not the norm).

    • PolishKnight says:

      Julia, I married your sister. She’s also impeccable about etiquette. The best flights I’ve had were next to mothers traveling with a group of kids and the kids were all dressed as if they were going to a wedding and I knew it would probably go well. The kids were trained to say thank you, please, and kill their time coloring or amusing themselves. They were better than many adults because they at least knew to not talk after the lights went out!

      I’d be happy to sit next to them again!

      Even the most unruly kids I knew from childhood could be put into their place to settle down by strong parents. They knew the consequences of misbehavior (their favorite toy, in the trash!) It was tough, but it wasn’t abuse and it worked.

  310. Howard Lippin says:

    Someone once asked W.C. Fields how he liked children, “Par boiled” he replied. Children should definitely be seen and not heard, especially in the confines of an airplane. I recently heard the comments of some air travel analyst on Fox Business, where he said the approaching model of pricing will be “for extras”, as in seat, X dollars, additional leg room, x dollars more, pillow, x dollars more, and so on. A “Quiet” cabin? Yeah, I’d pay for that. A “No Children” cabin? I’d pay double for that! I’m one of those throwbacks that yearns for the days of “Clipper Class”, when people actually dressed up to fly, so yes, I’d pay up for the kind of flight experience I’d want, and that includes quiet, class, and comfort.

  311. Roger says:

    I’ve ended up with garbage on the floor before, for two simple reasons. One is that I am above average height (and shoulders) so I can’t actually reach down and pick up anything that falls. The tray tables are in my lap which is really far away making it more likely something accidentally falls.

    The second is increasing number of passengers (high load factors, denser seating) combined with minimum numbers of flight attendants to actually take the trash away. I’m convinced they often leave picking up trash and finished meals as long as possible so passengers are trapped by the tray tables. My record between finishing a meal and it being taken away is 3 hours!

    • Douglas Moran says:

      “Why, for example, do so many airline passengers find it acceptable to throw their garbage and food all over the cabin floor, then mash it into the carpeting with their feet? You don’t do this in a restaurant. Why is it all right to do it on an airplane?”

      Roger is exactly right; what are the other options? Unlike in a restaurant, you can’t put it on a corner of the table and then let a busboy or waitron grab it; there is no table. Even if you leave your tray table down, it’s pretty tiny; you just leave it there? Try to get out of your seat–POing your fellow, equally-cramped passengers–and try to bring it to the trash up front or in back? (If you get it lucky and there are no carts in the way.) Stuff it in the seat pocket and hope you don’t forget to give it to the flight attendant?

      Speaking of which: If you take the latter course–which is my usual choice–I find you often have to wait a long, long time for the flight attendant to come by with a trash bag. Or you can ring them and feel like a jerk for ringing them when all you want to do is hand them a plastic cup. Or you can just say, “The heck with it!” and drop it on the floor. The truth is, there are no good choices.

      • Why not just use an airsickness bag to consolidate your trash, seal it when you’re done with it, and have it handy for collection when the cabin crew comes ’round for it?

        That’s what I’ve always done, and I’ve never gotten anything but a “Thank you” from an attendant for the practice.

        • crella says:

          Then the air sickness bag has to be replaced, I use the plastic bag the blanket comes in.

          • PolishKnight says:

            Bravo Crella!

            The airsickness bags cost money and some airlines are (crazy policy) not putting them out as if a passenger barfing all over the place is an acceptable risk.

            There are plenty of plastic bags available to put trash in whether recycled from the blanket or headphones or just stuffing trash into the coffee cup and then putting it into the seat flap in front of you. It’s not rocket science.

            For trash that falls on the floor by accident: If a passenger is in a window seat with two sleeping people to his right, it’s difficult to justify waking them up just to pick up the trash. Even so, just throwing your trash on the floor has no excuse.

            And I clean my seat flap in front of me at the flight end if only to make sure nothing valuable I put there may get left behind. A clean seat is an organized seat.

          • Rog Williams says:

            Exactly. I always poke a small hole in the top of the plastic bag and hang it on the coat hook before I sit down – you can put all the bits of garbage into it without the (apparently) traumatic experience of bending down to pick up what you yourself have dropped onto the floor.

            Don’t get me started on parents changing diapers in the middle of a row of people eating their meal. Seen THAT more than once.

  312. Fry says:

    Children’s Ambien. Someone needs to get on that.

    • DrNo says:

      So we’re supposed to drug our kids now? Ambien is only a few molecular tweaks away from Valium and Xanax, so perhaps we should just hand everyone boarding a plane a few of those?
      /sarcasm

      Honestly, drugging kids up for a flight is never a good idea. Far too many kids experience a paradoxical reaction to sedative/hypnotics like Ambien. Can you guess what ‘paradoxical’ means in this case? It means screaming and crying far beyond what the kid would’ve done w/o the drugs. It means a shorter fuse than they had before–oh, and now they’re slightly addled, but can’t sleep. So now you have a deranged toddler who absolutely cannot calm down. Versus a previously upset toddler that probably would’ve calmed down with some juice, a cookie and their stuffed animal.

      Benedryl is an even worse choice for many kids for the same reasons. Can some kids take it w/o any problem? Sure! But there will always be a significant percentage who freak the fck out on diphenhydramine.

      So how about leaving the drugs to doctors, and the parenting to parents, and you can drug yourself up instead? Thanks.

      • It’s certainly possible to sedate small children for long flights or to get them through experience of other stressful situations. I’ve prescribed for that purpose a few times, but you’re right about the fact that improper selection of the drug (and improper dosing) can commonly result in a disinhibitory effect.

        It sure happens often enough when medicating adults, and especially when adults “self-medicate” (usually with alcohol) to take the edge off their flight-related anxieties.

        With little kids, it’s certainly a good idea to keep them away from stimulants before and during flight, emphasis on caffeine and chocolate (theobromine), but also simple carbohydrates (sugar, etc.). Some bronchodilators and decongestant medicines tend to have some CNS stimulating effects, too, but if a pediatric patient is on those meds as maintenance drugs, I can’t see any good way of avoiding those sorts of unwanted potential adverse events.

      • Jeff says:

        Does it not occur to you that a day before the flight any medication would be tested for paradoxical effects? I mean come on, give at least some credit. : (

        • Jerry says:

          Unfortunately, the paradoxical effects may not be consistently exhibited. A child can be fine on Benadryl (or similar) 9 times and that tenth…watch out!

      • Tim says:

        On Continental it seems that official policy is to drug children. And the flight attendants get to decide which drugs.

        http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=3371901&page=1#.T1oBq4Fum8A

      • Gene says:

        “Ambien is only a few molecular tweaks away from Valium and Xanax”

        And hydrogen peroxide is only one molecular tweak from water. One will kill you, the other is necessary for life. Just because things are chemically close to one another doesn’t mean a thing in how they affect the body.

        • alexi says:

          “And hydrogen peroxide is only one molecular tweak from water.”

          Formaldehyde is “organic” water (organic in the chemical sense i.e. contains carbon)

      • Bastet says:

        Benadryl actually has a physiological affect that HELPS young children be more comfortable on flights.

        The primary reason why babies scream on flights is because their ears a particularly sensitive to the inner ear discomforts of cabin pressure (a result of fluid in the inner ear shifting). Benadryl helps to dry up the excess fluid that causes pain.

        The other “solution” for relieving the ear pain is swallowing or yawning. You can’t direct a 9 month old “just kee swallowing, Hun.” Most quiet babies on flights are being breastfed during the flight…..their suckling is emotionally comforting and provides a great deal of relief for the discomfort of air pressure in the ears. Bottles do NOT provide the same level of comfort. (the breast will adjust amounts produced and the baby can keep suckling without over eating….producing MORE dirty diapers….or sucking in a bunch of air).

        So the next time you have the blissful experience of flying with a quiet baby who is being breastfed, make sure to compliment the parents and defend them against naysayers who are offended by public breast feeding.

  313. Rod says:

    I feel your pain, Patrick.
    The only time I’ve ever flown business or first has been on a rare upgrade, usually hard-earned as a reward for major inconvenience of some sort. Otherwise I’m a coach-dweller who is largely unplagued by screaming babies. Hey, maybe it’s a matter of karma. Or slightly falling oxygen levels after takeoff. Or maybe it’s that the people who are rich enough to take their obnoxious kids in first class are naturally disposed to spoiling them rotten, as they themselves probably were when they were kids.
    Unlike Dan, I don’t have noise-cancelling headphones, but I do have a pair of industrial-grade ear-protectors. I put earplugs in my ears, wedge the airline’s earpieces over them (max volume), and hold the entire assembly together with the ear-protecting headset.

    As for some dingbat trimming his nails onto the carpet, he ought to be told off in public, if one has the nerve (and energy). Though boneheads like that are probably immune to embarrassment.

    • Jon says:

      I have quite a few times seen people cutting their toenails on trains in continental Europe – but I’ve never seen it on a plane. Some people have no consideration anyone else.

      As for should kids be banned? On the rare occasions when I have flown business class, it’s been the adults that have been more disruptive than the children. I have flown with a guy who wanted to tap along to his iPod for the entire flight, and next to a person who decided that they would hassle the air stewardess every five minutes (who btw had the patience of a saint).

  314. Reader says:

    Should Airlines Ban Children From First and Business Class?

    Yes!

    P.S. Parents in the U.S. should be required to prevent their children from kicking the coach class seat in front of them.

    • J.D. says:

      Why?

      Obviously it’s up to an airline to determine what its policies are. But while first- or business-class passengers have paid more, a baby crying in coach probably annoys a lot more people than one crying in the privileged sections. Just because they haven’t paid out the nose for their seats doesn’t mean that coach passengers don’t want to sleep on a 13-hour flight.

    • Jeffrey Latten says:

      It’s a rude world out there, full of inconsiderate people of every nationality, who don’t give a rat’s patooty about anyone but themselves. Their children learn from what they see. Many of these neandethals fly.

    • Tom Hill says:

      Why should we poor bastards in steerage have to put up with obnoxious children? Are the ears and nerves of the better capitalized more sensitive?

    • MP says:

      I had a chicken$h!+ flight attendant who asked a man behind me not to allow his 3 y.o. Son to kick my seat, over and over and over. The man said, ‘if she doesn’t like it, why doesn’t she buy a seat in 1st class?’ I bounced out of my seat and said, ‘I can’t afford a 1st class seat. At least I’m not too cheap to not buy my 3 y. o. A seat like you!’ Flight attendant rolls off & leaves us ready to throw blows. I backed off because I didn’t want to be arrested on my way home. He let the boy kick my seat for 5 1/2 hours STRAIGHT! I had murder in my heart that night, I assure you.

  315. Dan says:

    My solution for the crying and screeching: Noise-canceling headphones and an iPod! They work great even on a flight without babies. The ambient noise of modern jet flight is wearing on the ears all by itself. My dad was a captain for American and it gave him significant hearing loss at some frequencies. I find I arrive much more refreshed if I use my noise-canceling headphones for an entire flight.

    • Andy says:

      While I agree that noise-canceling headphones make for an overall more pleasant flight (especially when I’m stuck at the back of a MD-80 or CRJ), I don’t think they do too much for children’s shrieks. I have a QC15, and according to Bose, these are engineered to filter out “background” noise (e.g., air conditioning, engines) but not “foreground” noise (e.g., someone – such as the FA – talking to you). Unfortunately, babies’ piercing screams apparently count as foreground noise. Any acoustic engineers here to register my complaint?

      • PolishKnight says:

        I have a solution for all using the same headphones. I wonder if it’s already patented:

        Put the earphones on the CHILD and then plug them into a smart phone with a feedback sound application. AMPLIFY the child’s screams so it appears to the child that their screams are louder than they really are.

        If it works in one way at pools (the kids scream at the top of their lungs because the water is in their ears), why can’t it work the other way around?

        There’s also good parenting. Yes, it is possible to train most kids, even infants, to not scream loudly. My girlfriend had infant children who screamed at home so she simply reacted FASTER when the infants and toddlers expressed themselves in a more constructive fashion. It sounds amazing, but it’s true. I’ve seen a lot of parents like this and their toddlers and even infants are not that loud. They have the IQ of a puppy and most puppies are trainable. Some of the best flights I have taken were in the midst of well trained toddlers.

        My mother told a story often about how my older sister was a real cryer as an infant. Everytime my sister cried, my mother would run to find out what was going on. The next time my sister cried a fit, my grandmother stood at the door and stopped my mother from going in for a half hour. After the half hour was over, and my infant sister settled down, my mother went in. After that, my sister was a lot less noisy. She still cried and expressed herself, but in a more constructive manner.

  316. Ethan says:

    Patrick, I’m a huge fan of yours, but was the (sadly, predictable) Russia bashing necessary? It’s particulary odd, given that you’re usually so cosmopolitan…

    P.S. I’ll allow this: Worst lounge I’ve ever been in is the appropriately named ‘Blues’ lounge at SVO. (Skytime elites like myself have access)

    • Patrick says:

      How was I “Russia bashing?”

    • Alan Gore says:

      I’ve been lucky too in having most babies on most of my flights be well-behaved. But I agree that children of that uncontrollable age should be banned from F and J. If you have children that age, having to fly coach while they are young is a small sacrifice to make for a big courtesy to those who have paid a lot for a premium experience.

    • PolishKnight says:

      Hey! I have in-laws who fly through SVO. I wanted to get them access to Blue lounge but it wasn’t covered by my passes. I suppose I didn’t miss anything? Could you describe what Blue was like and how it was so bad? Please, since I and they didn’t get a chance to go, I’m curious!

  317. Don Beyer says:

    I have been on 44 flights to/from Europe. Always in coach. Had the luck being in a seat with extra legroom a few times. Fares were $750-1900 RT. There was never a child who cried for more than a couple of minutes. Was I just really, really lucky or was my experiences the norm? I’m amazed at the number of people with infants and todlers who fly international.

    • Dino says:

      As a parent, I will never fly business class with children. Firstly, it is pure waste of money unless yours are well-behaved and calm. I get easily stressed when children misbehave and I have a good sense to know people pay good money to have a quiet and calm trip which explains the other reason why I disagree to children in business class or higher. Having said that, the solutions offered by some here sounds good using ear plugs and all. Even I have children of my own, I cannot tolerate babies screaming at the top of their lungs. It signals either the child is sick or the parents do not understand very well the needs of their child/ren.