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Star-Telegram.com

Should babies be banned from first class?

Posted Wednesday, Jul. 06, 2011

By Kari Crane

Mom2MomDFW.com



A recent story about Malaysian Airlines has me feeling like I should be outraged, but really, I can kind of understand.

The airline will ban babies from riding first class on a new fleet of their planes. They say they made this move after receiving complaints from first class passengers about crying kids. The move feels a little like discrimination. If I’m willing to pay, why should you keep me from sitting where I want? And some people have very well-behaved children who disturb no one. But even the best-behaved baby can break down while flying. And I understand why passengers who fork out the extra money to fly first-class want to be guaranteed some peace and quiet.  

So either way, this isn’t an easy decision. And one I can’t change, so why not focus on what I can change: Making my baby the one on the plane who other passengers compliment and love. Not the one that they’re cursing under their breath.

With most of my family living out of state, I’ve been lucky enough to take several flights with my 21-month-old already. Here are my favorite travel tips for flying. They’ve served me well so far. Except for that one time... but we won’t talk about that.

1. As much as you can, travel around your child’s sleep schedule. Now that my daughter is coming up on 2, she won’t nap unless she’s in a bed. So there’s no chance she’ll sleep on the plane. The one time I couldn’t book my flight around her nap was the one time I was the person with the screaming child on the plane.
2. Hit the $1 section of Target for some new, cheap toys. Entertainment is key.
3. Try to give your baby a bottle or pacifier on takeoff and landing. It’ll help their ears.
4. If you’re like me, you’re probably trying to save money so you didn’t book an extra seat for your baby. As soon as you get to the gate, check with the agent to see if there are any empty seats on the plane. If there are, the agents have always been more than happy to help move me around to get an empty seat for my child. Even if you’re still going to hold your baby the entire time, the extra space can be a lifesaver.
5. Bring along a favorite blanket or stuffed animal for baby to snuggle.
6. Pack as light as you can. Your hands will be full. I find backpacks to work the best because you can still manage it if baby insists on being held. And I always bring along my regular-sized stroller, not the umbrella stroller. That way if I’m carrying baby, the stroller can carry my bags. And if I’m lucky, the stroller will carry baby and my bags.
7. This is my favorite tip of all: It’s likely that you’ll never see the people sitting around you on the plane again. So if your baby is the one crying, just grin and bear it. Know that you’re doing the best you can, and sometimes babies just cry. Hopefully it’s a short flight and you’ll be waving goodbye to your fellow passengers soon.  

Oh, and just one more question for you, Malaysian Airlines. Any chance you can ban overly-chatty passengers from first class, next? My husband would attest that his first-class flight last month was ruined by the lady sitting next to him who talked, and talked, and talked, and talked... Even headphones wouldn’t quiet her down, where they might have drowned out a crying baby. Where do we draw the line?

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