The most embarrassing moment of my life? That’s easy.
Our son, Aren, had just turned one and we were flying from New York to London on an airline whose name I’ve promised never to mention.
We’d managed to score an upgrade — seats 1A and 1B — and to ensure Aren had a pleasant trip, we offered him a nip of Benadryl. Most kids fall asleep when they’re given an antihistamine.
The medication had the exact opposite effect: Aren turned hyper, tearing down the aisle of the first class cabin, shrieking and bumping other passengers. He woke up the person sitting next to us and drooled on the passenger behind us.
All of which bring me to this week’s topic: Kids in first class. Should we or shouldn’t we? And if so, when?
Allow me to state my completely unbiased opinion right up front. No. We should not. At least not mine. I downgraded myself on the flight home, that’s how badly I felt for the other London-bound passengers that day.
What was I thinking, trying to bring a toddler into first class?
I’m not alone.
· 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.
· Several years ago, a United Airlines flight attendant just came out and said it: no children in first class. A passenger disagreed, sued the airline — and lost.
Last week in this column, we argued about whether kids belong on planes, and resolved that although many of us would like to keep the little ones from flying, it’s just not practical. This week, as promised, we’re having a more nuanced and civil discussion about children in the good seats.
Well, sort of. I asked some of my readers for their opinions of kids in first and got an earful.
“No, no, no, no, no,” says Mona Palmer, an administrative assistant from Friendswood, Tex. “First class tickets are too expensive to have the investment destroyed by an unruly kid whose parents think they’ve paid for the privilege of ignoring their kids’ rotten behavior.”
The other side of this argument is equally vehement.
“Give me a break,” says Jennifer Thomas, who describes herself as the owner of a public relations firm and mom. “These questions about kids and flying are frankly disrespectful. Let’s see, kids in first class or terrorists allowed to fly on planes? Or how about just plain rude adults who take to the friendly skies? I would take a child any day over previously mentioned. Why not ask questions about those two audiences?”
Kids! Kids! Can’t we just get along?