Miss Manners: Kids in Business Class are A-OK

Several days ago I wrote about an open letter from a mom bitter at a passenger who gave her dirty looks over her young child on a Southwest flight.

The topic of kids on planes, especially in premium cabins, is always a controversial one. For sure the man could have kept his consternation to himself, even when the kid became fussy. She could have had more patience and understanding too — or been proactive.

George and Amal Clooney give out their own-branded noise cancelling headhphones when they fly commercial with their kids. Oddly they do this in international first class where noise cancelling headphones are provided. Still it’s the though that counts (and the self-promotion).

Copyright: buzzfuss / 123RF Stock Photo

Readers have lots of opinions of whether young kids belong on planes in the first place. If there’s anything close to an official word, though, you’d expect it from the columnist who calls herself Miss Manners. And she declares that “It is public transport: There is nothing prohibitive about who sits in which class except for the cost itself.” Though she does at least “hope[..] that no diapers will be changed outside of the restrooms.”

Surprisingly she doesn’t go into nearly as much depth about what is expected of the parents which seems to me to be all about… manners. For instance don’t let kids draw on seat backs.

Of course, no matter what you think of this issue, there are passengers whose knowledge of aircraft etiquette is far worse than young children as this note from a flight attendant I saw Friday on Facebook attests:

It seems to me that rank-ordering poor passenger etiquette we have plenty of passengers to shame before getting down the list to parents.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I understand kids in business class. I have my noise-cancelling headphones and even crying babies can’t penetrate if I turn the music up. However, once I flew in the first row of main cabin because I didn’t get my usual upgrade. The reason was that one family of four and one family of five occupied 9 of the 12 first class seats. 2- and 3-year old kids in those big seats. Travelling during school vacation and break times is rough on the business traveler.

  2. Flying is a stressful situation, the highway traffic, the airport’s security controls, the crowdy lounge, the boarding process, the narrow plane aisle, the reduced legroom seat…

    Noise canceling headphones are always a great onboard companion

    During any flight, there are a lot of different noises that may increase the passenger’s level of stress

  3. David, you’re telling me that a family should not be able to pay for business class or use points for business class so that you can get a FREE upgrade?

  4. If well behaved then no problem. If not then it’s the parents I have an issue with, not the kids. And with babies, well, I’ll put that on the parents again. Was it really necessary to fly, knowing you will very likely aggravate 50 other people? Or was it more about you than your child? I was not allowed to fly until I was old enough to behave in public, but I guess that’s asking too much for today’s narcissistic shameless millennial parents.

  5. The biggest problem with kids on planes is the noise and crying. Babies (like little ones) can generally be calmed with a bottle, diaper change,etc. and will USUALLY shut up in a short enough time frame. Where I have the problem is the 1-6 year old little MONSTERS who are old enough that they “should have” been taught proper behavior and yet still scream, cry, etc for no good reason other than to just be little a$$holes and their parents KNOW they are going to act like this and let it go on for hours like they can’t hear it or something! The millenials don’t believe in spankings but don’t seem to have any other way of dealing with it…and apparently want to wait until they’re on a plane with 300 other people to have “teachable” frigging moments….like we decided to let Skye (or some other stupid name) learn from this experience…when for the last 3 years of its monster little life, they’ve let it have WTF ever it wanted to shut it up, but now decide we’re going to let everyone suffer rather than throw it out of the plane!
    Yeah, I’ve been on planes where the little monsters have literally screamed for HOURS and parents just let it go….What pisses me off, let me or any teen or adult stand up and scream for 4 hours and see what they do…I get that a BABY doesn’t know any better, but toddlers are old enough to and still let it happen…I think they should throw a lot more of these misbehaving kids off the planes before takeoff when they’ve demonstrated they’re going to act this way and it would stop a LOT OF THIS CRAP….

  6. “Still it’s the though that counts (and the self-promotion).”

    As always, ready to proof your articles before you post them….

  7. @Christian…. Airlines are public transportation. They are regulated by the government, licensed a public transportation. and can NOT discriminate to who they sell a ticket to. They are actually publicly traded companies not private held companies.

  8. @tomRI – The government regulates food companies and imposes no shortage of rules on multiple aspects of their operations. What differentiates public transportation from private is that a private company is by definition privately held. They issue stock, which is held by shareholders. Your local municipal busses are owned and operated by the government, making them public.

  9. I’d much rather the kids up front than someone with a dog that they have to take out of the pet carrier and show how cute it is.

  10. No to the kids in business class. I pay enough money as it is and I cannot tell you how many times traveling overseas on a several hour international flight that cost a lot of money, the last thing I want to hear is kids screaming, yelling and their parents just sit there. It happens a lot.

    Don’t bother going to the parents and your kids are not cute

  11. @WR2: what if a family is moving for work? What if they are going to a funeral? Not all trips with small children are optional.

    @sterlinghawk: so children should only be allowed to bug people in coach? If the airline doesn’t have a policy against children in 1st, you can’t claim it as part of your ticket.

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