Children banned from first class flights
One airline has chosen to ban children sitting in first class. But is this fair and will other airlines follow suit?
A screaming toddler at 30,000ft can bring out the worst in the most placid of travellers. After all, who wants to pay all that money to have a crying baby seated next to them for the entire flight? It simply doesn’t contribute to that laid-back holiday feeling.
Fortunately, one airline has bitten the bullet and announced that its first class cabins will be child-free, leaving wealthy travellers to enjoy their flight in peace and, supposedly, those in cattle class to put up with even more screaming kids than they do already.
The baby ban
Malaysia Airlines CEO and Managing Director Tengku Azmil said he imposed the ban after the company received complaints from first class passengers whose sleep had been disturbed by screaming tots.
The ban has already come into effect on the airline’s fleet of Boeing 747 jumbo jets and now it’s announced it won’t be installing bassinets in the first class cabins of its new Airbus A380s, which will gradually supersede the Boeings on some of its busiest routes.
The ban will affect flights from Kuala Lumpur to London, Amsterdam and Sydney, and is thought to be the first such ban imposed by an airline. Travellers with kids will have to sit in business or economy class.
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Travellers flying first class with the airline certainly pay for the privilege. A first class return ticket from Kuala Lumpar to London will set you back about £6,800, while an economy class ticket costs about £900.
So, you can see that if you’d shelled out £6,800 for a flight, you might want to travel in peace.
Is the airline right?
So is Malaysian Airlines right to take this stance? I think so. Despite never having travelled first class (a freelance journalist’s income doesn’t quite stretch that far), I’ve suffered numerous flights disrupted by the baby perched on the knee of its mum next to me or from having my seat repeatedly kicked by the toddler behind me.
It’s annoying without a doubt and there’s many a flight when I’ve angrily jammed my ear plugs in while muttering to myself about paying hundreds of pounds for a flight only to have it ruined by someone else’s screaming baby. I can only imagine how riled I would be if I was paying ten times more my ticket price to travel in comfort, only to still have my journey disturbed.
Catch me on a bad day and I’d happily back an idea to have a sound-proofed section at the back of the plane where all the kids could happily scream away to their hearts’ content while the rest of us got on with enjoying in-flight films and dodgy food.
Of course, the issue with banning kids from first class is that then all the families will have to sit in business or economy class making the noise problem worse for passengers in these areas of the plane.
However, in reality, wealthy people intent on booking into first class complete with their kids, aren’t likely to simply downgrade to economy on Malaysian Airlines. They’re much more likely to seek out a more family-family airline flying the same route.
Other flight gripes
But are babies the biggest irritation on flights? Possibly, but personally I have a couple of other gripes.
Firstly, snorers. You might be able to kick the anti-social sleepers out of bed but get sat next to one on a long-haul flight and there’s no escape. Annoyingly the worst snorers seem to have no trouble in dropping off to sleep and staying asleep for long periods of time.
Of course, in this situation you might be grateful for the seat-kicking-kid sat behind your torturer…
Next up: the seriously obese. I don’t want to be mean about overweight people but I am still carrying a certain amount of resentment for an American Airlines flight I took a couple of years ago.
Related how-to guide
Find out how to cut the cost of your flights, get discounts, tip correctly, spend wisely, get cashback and most importantly, cut the cost of your holiday.See the guide
Tired from my journey to North America, I had a relatively short hop to Central America. “Can I move the arm rest?” asked the large man next to me who proceeded to lift the arm rest and take up a quarter of my seat as well as 100% of his own. Surely if you need two seats on a plane, you should buy two seats?
Cut your flight costs
Finally, if you’re trying to save money on your flight, here are some quick tips to follow:
1. Compare flights
Always shop around carefully for your flights before booking them. Websites such as Skyscanner and kayak.co.uk search the best fares for you and you can then book these through a selected agent or from the airline’s official website.
2. Watch out for extra costs
If you’re booking with a budget airline, keep an eye out for extra costs such a check-in fees, baggage fees and charges for paying by card. To avoid these, bring as little luggage as possible and always check-in online. To sidestep card fees, you could use a prepaid MasterCard to pay for your flight. However, the good news is that the OFT wants to ban unfair card charges for budget airlines!
3. Be flexible
Be as flexible as possible about when you fly. If you can fly during the week and early in the morning and avoid school holidays, you’re likely to save a lot of money on your flight ticket. To find out more, read The best value flight ever.
You may also get a cheaper flight if you’re happy to book last minute.
4. Free flights
If you use a rewards credit card that allows you to earn airmiles, you could get a flight for free! A great card to use is the Lloyds TSB Airmiles Duo Credit Cards. All you need to do is spend on it (spend no more than you would do normally!) and collect points as you go. Once you’ve collected enough points, you can redeem them on flights to a wide range of destinations!
Always remember to pay off your bill in full each month, however, otherwise the high interest rate will far outweigh any benefits you receive. Take a look at The best credit cards for free flights for more information.
5. Free upgrade
If you simply can't afford to travel first class, but fancy escaping the screaming kids, take a look at How to get a free flight upgrade.
Should kids be allowed to travel first class, or even fly at all? And is there anything else that should be banned on flights?