Airline CEO: No babies allowed in first class

Dad Days of Summer: While Momania’s Theresa Walsh Giarrusso takes a vacation, local dad and sportswriter Andy Johnston will be filling in. You can e-mail him at

I read the other day that Malaysia Airlines, which has banned kids from first class on its 747s since 2004, will not allow them to sit in the pricey seats when its Airbus A380s are introduced next year.

According to a New York Times blog, CEO Tengku Azmil said the decision was based on the complaints from passengers and having no room for changing tables in the bathrooms in first class.

Having kids in first class is an extremely touchy issue for flyers who prefer that area be reserved for adults, or at least older children, who would enjoy the comfy seats, extra space and other luxuries. We’ve flown with Ty several times since he was 2 months old, and I couldn’t imagine him sitting in first class on a couple of those trips, even though he’s an excellent flier, for the most part.

When he was younger, we tried to sit as far away from other passengers as possible for two reasons:

  1. To give us more room
  2. In case of some unruliness, to have a buffer between us and our fellow passengers

And I couldn’t imagine spending the big bucks for a first-class ticket for a toddler.

An MSNBC article from two years ago sourced the results from a couple of surveys that supported keeping children out of first class.

An overwhelming majority of air travelers to a recent survey by Skytrax — 9 in 10 respondents — said families with children should be seated in a separate section on flights, presumably not in first class.

Another poll by corporate travel agency Carlson Wagonlit found that business travelers, who are most frequently found in the business- and first-class cabins, believe crying babies are the second-most annoying aspect of air travel. The first? Air travelers who carry too much luggage on board.

If people can afford it, they should be able to buy first-class tickets for their kids. But before clicking on the confirm button, hopefully they would employ some sort of common sense and realize if it’s truly the right decision.

Should babies and toddlers be banned from first class on all airlines?

Do you think airlines should have family-only sections on planes?

Do you have any kids-related horror stories from your first-class flights?

- By Andy Johnston, for the Momania blog

140 comments Add your comment


July 5th, 2011
2:54 pm

It is funny to see all of the venom directed to people who have children in this thread. They seem to think strangers have kids just to upset their perfect little lives. Must be nice that the only thing in your life that takes an effort is dealing with children that are not yours. I could see how that might warp your idea of the universe revolving around you. The rest of us, those who have kids and those who do not, traveling with children on a plane is one of life’s “deal with it” issues. It sucks so we deal with it and tackle life’s larger problems. For every screaming toddler sitting next to me on a plane there are about 25 adults who I wanted to punch in the face for acting like a jackhole in the airport.


July 5th, 2011
2:55 pm

Foam earplugs available from the drug store will solve the noise problem for you.

Obese people are a different matter, they’re actually sitting in your seat with you. They should be required to buy 2 tickets.

Riding the plane is akin to what riding the bus used to be.


July 5th, 2011
3:00 pm

No babies. I flew from Atlanta to NY. Someone’s baby cried all the way. Other passengers should be considered when you take children anywhere. Yes, they should be banned from 1st class.

atlas shrugging

July 5th, 2011
3:10 pm

definitely BANNED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


July 5th, 2011
3:10 pm

Babies should not be allowed in first class… that’s one of the perks of not sitting in the main cabin. There aren’t enough free drinks on a plane to make up for a screaming baby sitting close by.


July 5th, 2011
3:22 pm

give me an age threshhold that you would like to see banned. I’m curious.

Like I said, I don’t advocate banning anyone, no matter their age as long as it’s safe for them to fly. But I think kids under 5—and especially under 3—-shouldn’t be dragged on a plane without plenty of thought. One of my friends flew with a 6 month old to Germany. Her husband was stationed there and I would never say that a family should be kept apart because people don’t like crying babies on an airplane. Heck, I sat next to (really “with” since she didn’t have a seat) an 18 month old who was flying to see her sick grandma. I played with her, watched her while mom went to the lavatory, etc. I really kind of enjoyed it, aside from a bruise or two, lol.

Now, if mom had been flying to California for a wine tour with her former sorority sister, I probably would have asked to change seats. It’s that sense of me-first “parenting” that totally sets me off. You have a toddler, why not drive to the nearest beach? Do something the KID will enjoy too. Don’t hop a plane to wherever you please because that’s next on your me-vacation list. These are the people who chirp “children cry, deal with it,” and treat other travelers like their children: subordinate to what THEY want.

Of course these are the people with no toys or snacks, and no plan to keep their children busy.

BTW, if many air travelers are hostile towards children, you’d think responsible parents would be the first to call out lazy parents instead of making excuses. Unfortunately all you have to do is visit the Get Schooled blog to see how more than a “vocal minority” of parents are not doing their job in any sense.


July 5th, 2011
3:24 pm

Good policy. Hell is other people’s children.


July 5th, 2011
3:34 pm

@Aquagirl – so you played with the child because Mom was going to see hubby in Germany. But if Mom were going to Napa with her girlfriends, you would have changed seats? Really? Did the destination make the child any different?

Those comments are very shallow.


July 5th, 2011
3:35 pm

Most folks flying in first in the US get upgraded, same as me due to the amount of travel.
When I fly on vacation with my family, I actually pay for these seats!

And to all of you “well” traveled, child fearing folks, Malaysian Airlines is nothing compared to Cathay, Singapore Airlines or Thai.
So enjoy Malaysian, while I keep flying on paid tickets in first or business.


July 5th, 2011
3:38 pm

No babies should not be banned, but the caretakers of the child should be made to keep the babies quiet! A lot of time the parents or caretakers could care less that they are bothering other people with their loud child! :)


July 5th, 2011
3:39 pm

People with children really have no other concern for the people around them, or the fact that their brats are kicking your seat or whining about nothing! If people could take back the control it seem their children have over them these days then we wouldn’t have these kinds if problems. Children are unpredictable and parents should use more discretion when choosing travel options. People just dont think of others, and definitely don’t discipline properly anymore!


July 5th, 2011
3:40 pm

I flew from NY to Hawaii en route to my honeymoon in first class. There was also a baby in first class, prob about 9 months old. That kid cried from take off to landing. Midway over the Pacific, I hauled my tail back to coach and found a empty row of seats so I could get a freaking nap. Parents with families need thier own plane much less their own section.


July 5th, 2011
3:41 pm

And yes, I have 2 kids. I made sure I flew at night and they were dead drunk tired so they would sleep thru the entire flight.


July 5th, 2011
3:44 pm

Drunk might be a good operative word, Tina. A half shot of Jack Black might go a long way to keeping the kid quiet!


July 5th, 2011
3:54 pm

No kids on planes.


July 5th, 2011
4:00 pm

You have a kid, stay home. You made the choice not me. I don’t want your kid on a plane, in a restaurant, or a movie theater. Stay home a raise your kid. No one said parenting was easy. You will have to watch the new Xmen movie on DVD. Order take out. But do not fly your kid to New York on Monday morning at 8am. See all the people wearing suits. They are going to work. They are probably going to work on the plane as well to prepare for their meeting. It is not a place for kids.


July 5th, 2011
4:02 pm

“Yep, I’m starting up Illegal Immigrants With Sixteen Children Airlines. I promise not to forget about you when I’m richer than Bill Gates.”

Bless your heart, but folks that “do jobs American’s won’t do” don’t make enough money to fly on commercial airlines. That is unless you divert funds from the government via entitlements / falsing documents. Add delusional to your resume, Aquagirl!


July 5th, 2011
4:08 pm

This is not a “one answer covers all situations” scenario

For me, it’s kind of the same as with toddlers at restaurants. I dont think they belong there – but I can see that in some cases the parents might have to go and therefore bring the toddler along.

When they do so, the parents need to be extra mindful of the other people around them. In other words, try and control your child. Everyone understands that babies can be difficult and in some cases inconsolable, but please TRY

I remember one 4 hour flight where I had a screaming kid seated directly behind me. The mother and older sibling made no effort to get the child to stop screaming. When I was ready to plug my ears with molten iron I finally turned around and asked if they could please just TRY and get the child to stop screaming. They looked at me like I was from Mars. I bet they are the same family that lets the kids run loose playing tag around other people’s tables at the restauarant.

Most people will give parents the benefit of the doubt if they just show effort to be considerate.

That said, if I was a parent, I wouldnt be taking my toddler to restaurants or onto airplanes unless it was just unavoidable


July 5th, 2011
4:10 pm

No children on planes, trains, or buses. Take them in the car. If that sounds mean, sit next to one on an 18 hour flight.


July 5th, 2011
4:14 pm

It’s about time! I’m SO glad to see that I’m not the only person bothered by the ridiculous lack of parenting people are allowed to get away with today. The parents should be forced to suffer consequences for allowing their child(ren) to be so ill-behaved (ejection from flights, removal from stores/restaurants, censure at church, etc.), as it is the parents who are causing the problem. I should not have to adjust my lifestyle because these “parents” lack any sort of social decency or sense of what is appropriate outside of their home.

Had I behaved so poorly as a child, I would have been severely scolded, spanked and restricted from all toys and activities for a good long while. I think I may have acted poorly enough for corporal punishment two or three times over the course of my childhood…and it certainly didn’t take anything nearly as out-of-hand as a full-on tantrum or slapping my mother to receive the corporal punishment.

My parents were involved, attentive and considerate of other people, and if I even thought about stepping out of line, it was as thought they could sense it. Then came “the look”, and if I got “the look”, I knew anything less than the expected behavior would not be tolerated…even if it meant we had to leave wherever we were. People in the community I grew up in didn’t hesitate to step up and put an unruly child back in line if the need arose.

The way I was raised has been considered inappropriate, and sometimes even criminal (the instances where the village would help raise the child), for the last decade or two. I find it quite unfortunate for everyone. Strangers have to suffer and the children are ill prepared for interactions with people outside their home and family.

If your child comes out of nowhere in a store, running, screaming like a banshee and throwing toy cars that it has taken out of the packaging at me, I will be tracking you down and telling you that you’ll need to leash and muzzle your animal before he’s taken away from you by the authorities. You see, that could be considered negligence and child endangerment, and after seeing your beloved (yet unattended) banshee trash the store on security footage, I have a feeling CPS would be inclined to agree with me.


July 5th, 2011
4:15 pm

Buses are for poor people.


July 5th, 2011
4:17 pm

OK, now that we’ve dealt with the kids how ’bout the “Hogs on a Plane?” Sounds like the next Samuel L. Jackson movie! LOL!

Frequent Flier with kids

July 5th, 2011
4:31 pm

Here are some things to remember:

1. You were all children at 1 time & if you think your behavior was spot-on-perfect in every single situation, you are incorrect. If your parents say you never acted out in public, it is selective memory. Every child has his/her moments.

2. Lazy parents irritate those of us who take responsibility for our childrens’ actions. Few things bother me more than the cell-phone talking, magazine-reading mom at the playground who has absolutely no clue that her son is whacking mine on the head with a stick, then acts surprised when I call her attention to the action. I feel a great responsibility to handle my kids’ moments of public outbursts with immediate action to ensure that they learn what is appropriate & what is not.

3. Family-only sections on planes. No one likes to hear fussy, crying babies on flights. I am a mom of 2 & I don’t like it. My kids have been on many, many flights (my 6-year-old has been to 7 countries to date) & we’ve only had 1 incident of extended crying in 7 years. My concern is that bad behavior will feed bad behavior & you’ll end up with a giant mess on the airplane. For example, we have neighbors whose children are not well-behaved. My 4-year-old, who is generally well-behaved, sees an action taken by these kids, they laugh, so he repeats the action, though it is the epitome of bad behavior. Multiply that times 10 & that is what a family section gets you. Children learn by example and, if there are well-behaved, respectful adults around them, they will copy. Also, the issue of age requirements for this section – I know some 4-year-olds who are better behaved than some 8-year-olds. Where do you draw the line? Do you create sections for loud-talkers & excessive drinkers too?

4. Experience counts. My kids know what to do on an airplane because they’ve flown so much. I was a nervous wreck on the first few flights with each, but it all turned out OK. Like I said above, they witnessed the behavior of those around them & copied it. My kids know how to behave in restaurants (we don’t do fine dining with them yet, just regular restaurants) because they have been out with us so much and also the same manners are required at the home dinner table. Some may say to keep kids at home until they learn to behave in public, but that is not reasonable, nor will they learn to behave in public if not given the opportunity.


July 5th, 2011
4:35 pm

After reading through all these posts I see no difference in sitting beside a crying baby and someone like aquagirl.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

July 5th, 2011
4:59 pm

My comment is in “moderation” because I attached hyperlinks to other websites….

@ Gary….”But do not fly your kid to New York on Monday morning at 8am. See all the people wearing suits. They are going to work. They are probably going to work on the plane as well to prepare for their meeting. It is not a place for kids”

I’ll stop thinking that airplanes are no places for kids when airlines stop sending me family vacation package advertisements soliciting me, and my family to fly with them.

the hypyerlinks were to american airlines, united airlines, and delta airlines showing all the family vacations they’d LOVE for me and my family (kid included) to book with them.

Face it folks….families with kids are a major source of revenue for them. None of us really get to dictate what policies they have. That’s left up to the market…the and the supply of families traveling with kids dictates that you the airlines want us more than you.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

July 5th, 2011
5:01 pm

should have read….

“That’s left up to the market…and the supply of families traveling with kids dictates that the airlines want us more than you”

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

July 5th, 2011
5:11 pm

when you think about it…..the fact that airline actively solicit parents to fly their kids with them….people complaining about kids on planes is equivalent to going to disneyland and complaining about all those kids.

I will give you that misbehaved children are a legitimate gripe. But for kids traveling and being good kids, even if that includes well behaved kid characteristics that annoy you, you’re position doesn’t hold water.


July 5th, 2011
5:25 pm

Parents should do their best to keep kids quiet and calm, but in my many years of fairly frequent flying, I’ve rarely seen parents who don’t try to. Like DB, I find the vast majority of kids to be well behaved on planes. And who’s to say that a businessman’s trip is more important than a family’s? Like Tiger said, it’s public transportation. If you can’t deal with lots of people of different ages being crowded in around you, charter a plane or drive in the comfort and privacy of your own car.


July 5th, 2011
5:39 pm


Wow! Only twice in 50 years have you ever seen kids that behave! What do you consider “behaving”? Let me guess, sit upright, no talking, no eye contact, more or less play statue. I’m correct aren’t I? Let’s see, this is not reasonable behavior for adults much less children. It seems you despise people and not just children. I have a suggestion. If you despise children so much: 1. Don’t have any. 2. Stay at home

One Striking Rattler

July 5th, 2011
6:34 pm

I would appreciate a flight where the men aren’t passing gas. I would rather ride across the country with a crying baby than those ill-mannered flatuent males.


July 6th, 2011
3:09 pm

Thanks to the comments in this thread, I’ve just upgraded my seat to first class. This way, me and my 8-MONTH-OLD SON can fly with the fat cat cry-babies commenting here. Want me to move back to coach? No problem. Just pay me $1000 and I’m outta there. Since the upgrade only cost me $600, I’m clearing 4 bills. You know what that is? A market niche. And you, my little whiners, are my new target audience.

Same game. Same rules. Different players.


July 6th, 2011
3:17 pm


“You have a kid, stay home.”

Really? How about: “You’re not successful enough to own your own jet, stay home.”


July 6th, 2011
4:29 pm

Fat cats? More class warfare, Joe? Those in first class have earned their way there. Enjoy your flight to Macon! LOL!


July 6th, 2011
5:10 pm

Thing is, I earned my way there too.



July 7th, 2011
2:26 am

The way you “earn” your way to first class, Producer, is by paying for the upgrade. Last I checked, there was no prerequisite of age, race, religion, hygiene, politics, personality, or politeness. It’s all about cash. And if someone with a toddler has it, then you’ve got two options 1) buy them out, or 2) shut the hey up.

First Class Airline Tickets

July 7th, 2011
7:29 pm

I actually think kids should be quiet on flights. I don’t pay a boat load for first class airline tickets just to be annoyed by a screaming kid.


July 8th, 2011
12:11 pm

What’s wrong with putting them in the cargo hold with the pets??


July 9th, 2011
12:27 am

This is an interesting discussion and I’m glad to have seen it. We live in Thailand (for work) and our family is in the US. Needless to say, we have to travel quite a ways to see family. We are planning our first long haul in September and have much angst and fear about it in general. I can’t see a reason why we cannot purchase a business class seat for our 10mo infant if we prefer the space and the comfort for us sleep-deprived parents. We are not wealthy but rather travel quite a lot for work and otherwise and can use miles for our own tickets and probably for our baby. But that’s not the point. It’s an awful feeling knowing that people will resent you from the start when boarding the plane. It’s even more awful when/if the child cries because we – the parents – do not want to disturb anyone else. But we will do all we can to make sure the flight is good for everyone, even if this means buying the child a space of his own so that he can sleep there in comfort for a 25+hour trip that is tough for any adult, never mind a baby.

This will be our first long flight with our boy and we are scared to death for a number of reasons. But now at least I can read what others’ perspectives are and feel a little comforted that others have been in the same situation.

Finally it would be good to have a family-friendly section. I don’t know if airlines will ever go that direction but it would be worth considering.

PS Malaysia is not known for civil liberties anyway, so they can get away with the ban.

The REAL Fed-Up

July 10th, 2011
8:19 pm

If I’m paying that much for first class to have “the best”, I certainly don’t want to be exposed to a crying baby, whether they pay for the seat for him/her or not. First class should be limited to ADULTS. I know some adults can be nasty as well, but they can be dealt with. What are you going to do when a baby won’t stop crying? I have two kids myself, and would NEVER have taken the chance of flying first class with them and having them disturb people that paid high prices to fly in COMFORT.

Mom & Grandmom

July 10th, 2011
8:25 pm

People pay extra to assure that they ride in comfort. Personally, I believe children under the age of 12 should ride coach. Yes, I have 2 children, and I would never put a young one in first class. For one reason, why? They don’t need the “extras”. At least at pre-teen age, you can reason with most of them. Have you ever tried to reason with a screaming 6 month old or a bratty toddler? An airplane is NOT the place to do that.