Despite having spent 12 years of my life with an airline pilot and traveling all over the world, I can count the number of my first-class flights on just two fingers. One. Two. That’s right, as a member of the traveling class of airline employees and families of airline employees we had to show comportment and respect to the passengers paying full price (that’s you), which meant No Kids in First Class. And because I always had anywhere between one and three kids with me, I sat in back in steerage. With the kids. And with everyone else’s kids. Your kids, my kids, conspiring to drive other passengers crazy.
Just for fun, let’s talk a moment about Things Kids Do On Planes:
- Turn around in their seats to peer at the people behind them.
- Repeatedly kick the seat in front of them.
- Drop things.
- Require frequent snacks.
- Talk constantly, usually in a loud voice.
- Require four times the amount of gear and therefore the overhead bin space of a non-child.
- Make frequent trips to the bathroom, “just in case.”
- Walk slowly up and down the aisles to alleviate the crushing boredom, touching everyone on the way.
- Cry upon approach as the altitude drops.
Quite a list, isn’t it? I’d love to do at least half those things myself, but I doubt I could get away with it for long. But kids can, and they do. And we’re stuck up there in a sealed tin can with them for hours.
My second first class trip was just a few months ago. Air mile upgrade. You know the drill: you fly 687 times at regular price and you get a free upgrade. Woo hoo. And after sitting in steerage 687 times with Junior kicking the back of your seat the whole time, you really feel you DESERVE first class, you know? Peace, quiet, those nice warm towels and a sundae. Sure, you could get all that at home by locking yourself in the bathroom, but this is First Class we’re talking about here. The magical land on the other side of the curtain. You’re going to enjoy every second of it.
That’s what I thought, except there was a kid behind me. TWO kids. Who kicked my seat until I turned around and peered between the seats and fixed them with my basilisk stare. But still, the magical unicorn world of First Class had gone. The spell was broken.
It’s ironic, my chagrin at being seated in First near some children, because for 12 years I wished myself up front to that magical world, telling myself that MY children were so much better behaved than most and that MY children would be quiet and that MY children wouldn’t throw things and certainly that MY children would never annoy any snooty First Class Person.
There’s a reason why my ex-airline prohibits employees from sitting “up front” with kids. Like the time my younger daughter cried all the way to New York from Ireland because she had emergency dental issues and Tylenol and non-stop breastfeeding just weren’t cutting it (luckily they were able to reseat everyone and create a wide berth around her ear-splitting shrieks).
But some airlines do. The question is — should they? Should kids be allowed in First Class? There’s a thoughtful post about this that proposes what I think is a great solution: allow kids but only older ones.
Still, weary parents deserve perks, too, and it seems unnecessarily unfair to blanketly ban parents from First Class simply because they’re parents. I know I longed to sit there for years (we sure put a lot of meaning into a bowl of microwaved nuts, don’t we?).
Traveling this summer? Thoughts about First Class? Kids — yea or nay?