Few issues are more contentious in the air than the subject of children on planes. As a parent I can see this both ways.
When my son was under two, (he’s now 22) we mostly flew in coach. But we were lucky enough on some occasions to upgrade to business or first. I must say, it was especially nice to have the extra space and better service.
Fortunately he was a relatively easy baby and well traveled enough that he was almost always quiet. But as a fellow passenger with a baby once said, “We have become the people we never wanted to sit next to on planes.”
I’ve traveled over the years on planes next to babies who were far better behaved than many adults. Still, I can certainly see the point of passengers who spend a lot of money on their tickets, and don’t want to even have the chance of ending up next to a baby crying nonstop.
Now, Malaysian Airlines is doing something about it. The airline has decided to ban infants, under the age of two, in first class on its Boeing 747-400 jets, and has plans to do the same in their new Airbus A380 superjumbo jets.
Apparently many first-class passengers complained they couldn’t sleep. In this case, money not only talks, the airline is listening.
CEO and Managing Director Tengku Azmil has even tweeted a defense of the move saying, “That’s true. Has bn 4 a while now” and “Also hv many complaints from 1st class pax dat dey spend money on 1st class &; can’t sleep due to crying infants.”
The ban applies for lap babies (children not occupying a seat) and for anyone rich enough to try to buy a seat for the infant. Babies under two will still be allowed in business class as well as coach. The airline, unlike many U.S. domestic carriers, still has bassinets in both coach and business.
So far, no other airline has followed suit. Although, if Malaysian Airlines starts filling up their first class cabin with paying customers, it’s hard to imagine they won’t start a trend, especially in competitive Asian long-haul markets.
Then again, with all the competition across the Atlantic, banning babies could be a way for a carrier to differentiate themselves in appealing to business travelers.
What if a CEO, elite frequent flier member, or celebrity wants to pay for bringing their family up front with them? In this era of Youtube.com etc, this wouldn’t be one of those policies where an exception would go unnoticed.
So what do you think Consumer Traveler readers? Is this a good idea? Would you be more likely to fly, (or for travel agents, to sell,) an airline that banned babies up front? Or is the policy discriminatory and wrong?
Or, is it discriminatory and you don’t care because people should be able to pay for peace and quiet?
Unfortunately, no matter which way this policy plays out, airlines probably won’t be able to ban the other scourge of peace and quiet in first class — passengers who act like babies.