Should Kids Be Allowed in Long-Haul Premium Cabins?

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A topic that often sets tempers soaring is whether or not children should be allowed in business or first class. While parents with young children may appreciate the extra space, lounge access, privacy to breastfeed, more attentive staff and access to lavatories, many wish for an outright ban of younger children turning left on an aeroplane.

I spoke with a British couple in Singapore who fly in business class to London each year. They have never thought twice about flying with their children at any age. Meanwhile, I’ve spoken with other parents who are nervous when discovering the only remaining award seat is in the nose of the aeroplane.

Famously, Gordon Ramsey flies in first class while his children fly in economy, a decision that he received heat for a couple of years ago but he states that it keeps his children humble.

In 2015, mum and journalist Kelly Rose Barford ruffled feathers when she suggested on ITV’s This Morning that babies should be banned from airlines and that parents are selfish for not changing their lifestyle once they have children.

My take has always been that children should be allowed in premium cabins as long as the parents are conscious travellers and take active responsibility for their children. First class and business class are clearly not designed for families, and I keep in mind that we are not the target demographic. While I have not encountered any hostility in person when travelling with my boys, comments on the internet lead me to believe that my fellow travellers may have been thinking it.

Can You Ban Children From a Premium Cabin?

In 2011, Malaysia Airlines announced it was banning children younger than 2 from first class on its 747s and A380s. When it introduced the rule, it faced worldwide criticism.

Many industry experts believe that it would be difficult to further segregate the plane in order to create kid-free zones, especially as noise travels.

Richard Branson told Conde Nast Traveller in 2014 that he explored the idea of a separate ‘kids class’ but faced pushback from the Civil Aviation Authority due to concerns about the segregated children in case of an emergency.

The topic is hotly contested, and one that will likely always be. But, an outright ban on children in premium cabins will be difficult to achieve.

Bottom Line

We all know the sinking feeling when a family with a young child sits near you on a flight no matter what cabin you’re in. Even on my last fight (in premium economy), I asked the family behind me if their son could use headphones rather than play his video game with full volume, as it was likely to wake up my sleeping children. Until airlines work out a way to segregate families or create more quiet zones like some Asian airlines, pack your noise-cancelling headphones.

Do you think children should be allowed in premium cabins?

Featured photo by Elisabeth Schmitt/Getty Images.

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