Summer is prime travel time for families. So when my husband called my attention to an online debate related to traveling, I thought I'd share it with you. Journalist Christopher Elliott, who writes syndicated column Travel Troubleshooter, asked readers on his blog whether it was acceptable for airlines to ban babies from first class.
As I suspected, both sides of the debate had plenty of ammo and anecdotes to support their opinion. It's a provocative question and one that may gain broader attention now that at least two airlines have limited first class to adults only. I don't think any US carrier wouldn't touch this issue. It's too controversial. Why anger potential customers when you want to sell tickets?
From a parenting standpoint, I would not appreciate any airline making an official policy of banning babies (or children) in first class, but I would understand why the sentiment exists. People get nervous when they see families with young children walking toward them down the aisle. Yes, babies cry and they can get especially cranky on flights. However, the problem isn't necessarily where children sit or kids on flights in general. I think what matters is each passenger being considerate of everyone else while enclosed in a small space for a set amount of time.
Some make the point that passengers wearing strong perfume, making loud, last-minute phone calls, drinking one too many alcoholic drinks, etc. are just as bad as crying babies. I guess that depends on your tolerance for strong smells because I'd take a baby over perfume any day!
Seriously though, it seems like air travel could be a much more enjoyable experience if parents prepared the best they could and other passengers cut them some slack. It's not a perfect system, but my family feels a real sense of accomplishment when we plan and execute a smooth travel day. It requires planning ahead, like finding the best flight times and bringing a Mary Poppins assortment of fun in my carry-on bag.
We've probably been on two-dozen flights with Kellan and only one flight nearly two years ago stands out as a real disaster. The kindness of another passenger saved me from breaking down and I hope someday I can help another mom in the same situation.
Because he has traveled so much, Kellan is a good little passenger but I wouldn't fly first class with him. The cost of the tickets would be better spent on experiences at our destination. Also, why get a seat in a section where almost everyone wants to put on their noise cancelling headphones and tune out when he could sit in front of someone who will return his smiles when he peeks over his seat.
What do you think about the air travel experience these days? What can make it more pleasant for families and people traveling without kids?