The baby in business class debate

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Nick with his wife and 15 month old son flying business class.

I’m pretty sure that I usually come across on this blog as calm and collected.  I try to anyway.  Usually.  But not in this post.  I’m pissed.  The baby in business class debate has come up before in other blogs, but I’ve never before thought much about it.  This time is different, maybe because it hits close to home.  I don’t personally have skin in the game anymore (my son is 19), but the trigger to the debate this time was Nick’s son.  And I’m willing to let “calm and collected” fly out the window.  I find myself suddenly passionate about this debate.  Of course it’s OK to fly with your baby in business class!  In my opinion, entitled premium class travelers have no right to dictate what a family does.  I can make logical arguments, but primarily for me it’s just a gut feel for right and wrong.  Traveling with your baby, in any class of service, may be disruptive to others (much more so in economy by the way!) but you have every right to do so.  You don’t have the right to tell others where to sit or whether or not to travel. Na na na boo boo.  I’ll post Nick’s cam and collected view below.

Background

The other day, Nick published a great review comparing ANA business class to Delta One Suites.  He and his family flew ANA to Tokyo and Delta on the return.  While there are many details in the post, my read is that both ANA and Delta were very good, but ANA’s outstanding service set them apart.  In a big way.  I’ve never flown ANA, but now I really want to.

“No babies in business class”

Some readers had a very different take-away.  They complained about Nick bringing a baby along in business class:

In response to a question of whether Nick was worried about flying business class with a baby, one person wrote:

Don’t be an ass like the poster and fly up front with your kid. There is no reason to fly with very small children/babies.

Another agreed:

Couldn’t agree more. Self centered behavior these days. No consideration for others. The vast majority of cases people don’t need to take these trips with infants and toddlers. Wait a couple years until the kid is old enough for flying or find alternative arrangements.

And:

People should have to pay more taxes if they have babies.

My reply

Nick’s calm and collected reply

Here’s Nick’s reply to the person who asked if he was worried about flying business class with a baby:

My son is 15 months old.

As you can see, people have strong opinions on this topic. Was I afraid? No. My wife was nervous about it, both from the standpoint of his potential discomfort as well as being disruptive to other passengers. I have no desire to be disruptive either, but I was confident that we’d be able to mostly keep him happy (we took a number of shorter test flights and he never had trouble with his ears nor seemed particularly bothered by flying — it’s just sitting still that’s a challenge at this stage). I figured we could manage that.

My perspective on babies flying in premium cabins is this: I figure that in the vast majority of cases, there are 3 types of people flying in premium cabins:

1) The independently wealthy / those who can just plain afford it.
2) Business people whose company is paying for it
3) People using airline miles (or bump vouchers, etc)

I figure that group #1 doesn’t suddenly start flying in economy class once they have kids (they bring their kids). Group #2 certainly has a legitimate gripe if they’re looking to arrive rested and prepared for a meeting. But then, the vast majority of those business people whose companies pay thousands to fly them in business class also earn a salary that supports buying a nice set of noise-cancelling headphones. I know this because most of them seem to be wearing them from take off to touch down. As a member of group #3, I feel awfully darn lucky to be flying up front using a made-up currency that I’m able to generate with relative ease. I don’t know whether or not it’ll be possible to do this forever, so I’ll enjoy the ride while it lasts and enjoy the opportunity to raise my son with experiences my family didn’t even dream of when I was a kid and I won’t feel too bad about it.

On my first premium transcon flight, there was a man in the row behind us who seemed like he might not be happy to be seated behind a baby. Our son got a little fussy, so I was in the galley behind rocking him to keep him calm. That man saw us in the galley and came up and asked how old he was — 7 months at the time. That man then lit up and smiled at my son and said, “You can yell as much as you want, I’m not mad. You’re alive and that’s a miracle. Be excited!” Little acts of kindness along the way like that lead me to believe that most people have kids and were kids at one point and understand what it’s like.

Again, I certainly do everything I can to avoid being disruptive and we time things out to have him ready to eat / nap at the right times as best we can. If you do the same and you’re making an effort to keep the situation contained, I think that’s reasonable and you’ll be OK.

BTW, I’ll add to that that if you are concerned about a baby being disruptive in a more spacious business class environment, I doubt he or she will be less disruptive in economy class. For us, a big part of the ability to manage him and keep him pretty calm is the fact that we have the space to move around a little bit in the business class cabin.

Your turn

Comment below, but please keep the debate civil.  I will delete comments that I deem to be too nasty.

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