Can Kids Fly In First Class?

Filed Under: Advice, Family

When it comes to traveling with kids, there are three things that matter — space, space, and more space. That’s true on the plane, in the hotel, and in the rental car. I don’t much care about the service or the food (assuming there is some!), I just want more space. That lets the kids sprawl out, lie down, and be kids.

Reader Rhebon recently asked a question in the Ask Lucky forum about traveling with kids.

I have a very simple question and I think you never talked about that subject?!? What airline is best for travelling with kids on a longhaul flight? Is it OK to fly first class with younger kids (2&5)? Thanks!

I think it’s great that you are traveling the world with your family. My wife and I travel a lot with our three kids, aged 5, 4, and 1. It takes a lot of effort, but for us, it’s well worth it. And the more you do it, the easier it gets.

Due to my Premier 1K status, we tend to fly United a lot and sit in Economy Plus but I’m sure that the equivalent product on other carriers would be fine too. I should also mention that some airlines do have nice little perks for kids — I recall our kids getting some sort of cheap toy on Thai, SAS, Lufthansa, and ANA, to name a few — but honestly, I’ll take the space instead. This isn’t to say that United is a good airline for kids (or even adults!) but it works for us.

United Economy Plus has lots of extra space

Now let’s get on to the main topic….

Can Young Kids Fly In First?

In general, it’s fine for kids to fly in first class. (The exception would be Malaysia Airlines which bans kids in first class, but they don’t operate many longhaul flights anyway so hopefully it’s a moot point.) You just need to be willing to pay for a ticket, redeem miles, or if they are under 2, pay the lap infant fee which can be rather pricey.

I’m sort of guessing that your question isn’t just about the policy issue though and is instead about whether you are going to get dirty looks, eye rolls, or general subtle harassment from other passengers who don’t think kids belong in the pointy end of the plane. It tends to be a rather hot button topic.

All I can say is that we’ve flown real first with the kiddos on a few occasions and never experienced any of that. Then again, our kids are experienced travelers and we put a lot of effort into keeping the circus under control when we’re out in public. They aren’t angels by any stretch of the imagination, but they tend to get complimented on their behavior on the plane. If only we could somehow replicate that at home….

Overall, I’ve found that most people are pretty tolerant of kids and really only get bothered when the parents let the kids go wild or act like they don’t care. If you are obviously putting in the effort to settle the little one down or scold them for running around like a crazy person, most people are going to be very sympathetic.

Should You Fly First With The Family?

Even though it’s fine for kids to fly first, you should ask yourself if you really want to. The times that we’ve flown first as a family worked out fine but we always got off the plane wondering if we would have been better off in business.

Here’s why.

First class seats tend to have a lot of privacy which is fantastic when you are traveling by yourself. But when you’ve got a 2-year old and a 5-year old to keep tabs on, it’s a different story. Even at 5, kids still need some assistance operating the inflight entertainment, ordering and eating the meal, etc. Or at least mine does.

Even in the soon-to-be-extinct United First, it can be challenging to determine the best seating for a family. We chose the four center section seats so that we could reach across the divider.

My wife reaching over the divider in United First on a 747

But if you’re seated across the aisle, you’re probably going to be getting out of your seat every few minutes to help them with something unless your arms are as long as Yao Ming’s.

Window seat in United First on a 747

Now imagine that you are in Etihad’s first apartment. Would you give your 2-year old their own hotel room?  

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 2
Etihad First Apartment has lot of privacy

Most business class configurations don’t have this problem.

The typical business class cabin has two seats next to each other such that you can reach out and touch your seatmate. If that person is a stranger, keep your hands to yourself. But if it’s your kiddo, it can be really nice to hand them toys, fasten their seatbelt, and whatever else without getting up.

United Business Class on a 747 has almost no privacy, and that’s a good thing for families

Even if it’s a fancy all-aisle access business class cabin, you’re still going to be closer to the adjacent seat such that you might be able to reach over the divider and help them.

To me, this can actually make business class preferable for families.

Bottom Line

If the cost to fly first or business is the same, by all means fly first. You’ll probably be out of your seat a little bit more, but the inconvenience will be balanced out by even more space, better food, or whatever other reasons you had for wanting to fly first in the first place.

But if there is a price premium in miles or dollars — and there probably is — I would absolutely choose business over first for family travel.

What do you think about kids flying in first class?

  1. Agreed. We’ve flown our kids to many destinations around the world, mostly in business class. It’s not worth the money (in cash or miles) to put them in first because they won’t appreciate it and it actually can be more of a physical pain than it’s worth because of spacing. One important point to note is that if travelling in biz on a plane with reverse herringbone seats, it’s a lot easier to be across the aisle (one in the window and one in the adjacent aisle seat) than it is to have the two “connected seats” in the middle – the barriers and privacy shields make it a lot harder to manage the kids than just reaching across the aisle. With our group of five, we’ll typically do three consecutive windows and then two adjacent middle section seats to create a small circle of 5 seats (for example, on an AA 77w, we’d select 7A, 8A, 9A and then 7D, 8D). We box the kids into the window seats to give them more privacy and keep them further away from other passengers. Reiterating what Travis said, so long as you are proactive with the kids on the plane and have planned (toys, books, electronics with headphones, etc) to keep them occupied, people on board won’t have an issue. The other somewhat obvious recommendation is to try to do overnight flights rather than daylight flights whenever possible to maximize sleep time. If the kids are asleep for 6 or 7 hours out of a 10 hour flight, it’s a lot easier on everyone. We started flying our kids long haul when they were 6 and 8. We were nervous the first couple of flights, but they’re now 11 and 13 and are well seasoned and a pleasure to fly with.

  2. Ive flown 1st more as a kid than as an adult. My father and grandfather always traveled to Asia for work. They always had status and points for upgrades. I remember the first time I had caviar I was 10 in first class and I asked the FA what it was. I then asked for 2nds 🙂

    Im all for kids flying in 1st class, but it really comes down to the parents. If your child can be well behaved and not be a distraction then its fine.

  3. My wife and I are about to have our first in April and we need more Travis posts!

    We are trying to plan our first trip with the kid and we could use some encouragement.

    What do you think about first class with a lap child?

  4. Back in 2007 we took advantage of the United $500 SFO-SYD-AKL business class “mistake” fare and brought our 15-month old as a lap child. At some point in the night junior woke up and voiced his displeasure with the unfamiliar environment. While the FAs were warming his milk bottle, an older woman told Mrs. B that children did not belong in C. Needless to say when I returned Mrs. B was almost in tears, so I confronted the old ***** and told her in no uncertain terms that we were flying on paid tickets and had every right to be there and that if she had anything more to say she should tell me. And that was the end of that. (He later had fun in the SQ, EK and Qantas lounges but that’s another story).

    Last summer my kids (now 7 & 10) flew LAX-LHR-LAX in AA’s wonderful 767 C cabin. I booked everyone window seats (6A-9A) which worked out splendidly. The kids were better behaved than some of the passengers I’ve found in C on other trips. They’ve also flown many time in F on AS and UA to Mexico and Hawaii.Why not? Miles are continuously depreciating so it makes sense to burn them when you can actually find the flights you need.

    My kids are now disappointed when they don’t fly in F, but they’ve learned to roll with UA’s E+ and even WN 🙂

  5. My wife & I are expecting our first in a few months. SO many people have told us, “Hah! You won’t be able to travel anymore!” It’s like they get a kick out of telling us that. We won’t be able to travel as much as we have but we certainly will travel with our kiddo. This post and comments were VERY helpful. Plus, the photos illustrating how business seems really might be a better option than first were great. (And what a beautiful family you have!)

  6. Agree as well but I do have one point as the parent of an older kid. My daughter was 3-8 when we traveled to a number of countries. While she loved it at the time, she’s now 15 and has basically no memories of the trips.
    So, if you want to travel as a family, great. Travel in first, great. But do not do it to give your kids lasting memories. They won’t have them. They will have a wonderful bond with family and I think it did give her a love of travel.
    Hope everyone has a great 2017. Travel well and safe.

  7. @Bill – First class with a lap child is fine. We’ve done it a few times and both the parent and child can sleep pretty comfortably on the same bed. However, be mindful of the lap infant fee. It’s usually 10% of the fare so for first class, it can get pretty expensive. I’m with Travis on this…business class is the way to go traveling with little ones.

  8. Great article! Thank you! And thanks to Brian for his comment – I have some rearranging to do on the 77w.

  9. @Boraxo, I have little patience when parents can’t (or rather don’t try to) control misbehaving kids, but babies cry. Parents are usually just as frustrated if not moreso than other passengers I flew Cathay biz HKG-LAX a few months ago in the mini-cabin with a family with two young kids (looked about 2-5 yrs old) and was so impressed by how well-behaved the kids were, I raved to the parents at the end of the flight.

  10. I love hearing well-reasoned discussions about this. Especially when parents offer up that level-headed opinions that take into account others in the shared, confined space. So thank you for that, Travis.

    As someone else mentioned, it’s about how the kids behave. I have zero problem (aside from a little envy, maybe – all good-natured) about children flying in J or F. It’s not my money being spent. Hell, if it means the kid is more agreeable and well-behaved, then have at it. I welcome it and the experiences they’re building at the destination.

    The flip side is all about parenting. Money can’t buy class…or parenting skills. If you’re a shitty parent and your kids are consequently shitty kids, then keep yourselves AND your kids off planes altogether. I have zero qualms about addressing a terrible parent AND their terrible child regardless of where we’re seated. There’s a social contract that is largely unwritten that when you’re in a public place, which airplanes generally are, you’re expected to comport yourself according to social norms. Can’t do that? GTFO.

  11. Wasn’t there a post a while ago about mileage programs that allow you to use miles for lap infants instead of paying 10% of the fare (e.g., Avios)? Maybe an update on those programs might be useful in conjunction with this post. I think some things have since changed (e.g., VS).

  12. @Andrew Yes, there was a post about that. It is linked in this post just below the first picture. I agree an update would be appreciated.

  13. Travis talked about it but the biggest thing is how big is the first class seat and where you you in position to it. Recently with my 7 year old son, he figured out the controller faster than we did and we told him he could watch TV or play any games out of the kid section. Then we also told him he could have as much sprite as he wanted and for each bowl of ice cream he ate, he also had to eat a plate of fruit. We didnt hear a noise out of him for 12 housr.
    Our 5 year old daughter did good as well, but there was definitely a lot of helping with the controller and food where it was nice to be right next to her in 2 center seats.

  14. I’ve flown three international trips with my now 4 year old including roughly 9 longhaul international business segments. At the time she was aged 6 months, 2 years, and 3.5 years. I’d echo others comments on international first with a kid–not worth it and a pain. But I’d go a step further and say I’d try to avoid a reverse herringbone seat b/c the added privacy makes it harder to monitor/help/control your kids. I think (depending on the size of your family) the best biz seats for families are TK’s 3 across biz on 777W, UA’s 4 across biz, and any other 2-2-2 biz.

    I’m flying CX biz LAX-HKG-CMB in May with my 4 year old and infant and i’m sort of apprehensive about not easily being able to help my daughter during take off and landing.

  15. An important consideration when choosing between F and J is the ground services. Golf carts from your gate, Porsches on the tarmac, line bypassing everyone, private terminals, these few things can make all the difference.

  16. Why not? People with young children often ask me about taking them to Europe on a vacation. Maybe my kid was the exception but he was more interested in Disney and theme parks, the beach and camping. And the same about fine dining – my kid wanted burgers and fries not scallops! So for me, it was a non issue as we were in cars and at McDonalds! More to the point, children have rarely been a problem for me on any flight, economy or premium. If you are in a position to fly as a family in premium – go for it!

  17. Wow I was worried I was the only one… I have 2 kids and have typically taken them in Biz and once or twice in first (Etihad a380 apartments for example). I’m talking 6-12 hours flights I don’t count elinter Europe or USA flights which would be a lot more.

    I 100% agree though that as a parent you need to make an extra effort to help keep the peace. Normally we run to the store and hit up the dollar/euro aisle and stock up on little toys and games etc before we go. We don’t let the kids see them before the flight and if possible try to ration them out along with ipad loaded with games and cartoons on the IFE. Of course even the best laid plans can go badly. No one has ever said anything on the long haul international flights but the funny thing is that we typically had more of the eyes rolling and the darn kids statements on USA domestic flights. Never did they go any further but the last thing a young family needs is more stress to pile on the nervousness they have already.

    Upon reflection regarding the Etihad apartments they are a little too private to really have a 3 and 5 year old off on their own. But they are great to relax in kid along with the parent. The kids ended up laying on the couch and I or my wife on the big chair for most of the flight. Having the chef there who actually made them a meal they liked was also a big plus.

    My wife agrees a lot with travis’s points around the business class seats and actually preferred the old crappy united biz to the Etihad or Qatar herringbone seats. Also for the same reason.

    I guess I am a sucker for the first seats and I also agree it seems to depend on when the flight is happening, as a light flight was tricky for the first hour but then after that the kids were passed out and I preferred the bigger first seats. I agree it doesn’t make a huge difference to the kids.

    Also I’ve had great experiences due to the kids. For example my son (now 5 but going on 6) has been able to get up to the cockpit (he always asks when boarding) more times then not. He has a little collection of the wings or airplane cards the captains have and sometimes I think the pilots are sad when I come take him back to his seat. As to him those guys (or girls) are as cool as super heros.

    Either way if you pay (cash or miles it doesn’t matter) for your seat then you or your kid does deserve to be there. I agree though show some respect for your fellow passengers and try to help be a “good parent”.

    Are there enough people like us who still love to travel with their family (with young kids also) but haven’t settled for the typical family vacation? I got into the miles and points game because of this very fact when the kids started to get to old to Infant in arms I realized this approach let us keep seeing the world but at the same time was keeping the costs half way reasonable.

    At the same time we keep flying nicely!

  18. My question is whether I should get my 21 month old a seat or have them fly on our lap. It would be on Turkish airlines using Aeroplan miles so the fee isn’t a problem. On one hand, I have the miles and Turkish has three business class seats across on the 777. She would have her own seat and my wife and I could potentially enjoy a nice dinner. On the other hand, we our worried that she may not like to sit in her own seat and probably won’t sleep there on her own. It would suck to use the miles for a seat that she doesn’t end up sitting in at all. The compromise may be to book it and if it doesn’t work out on the the way then cancel her ticket on the way back. Any advice?

  19. @Marshall “Im all for kids flying in 1st class, but it really comes down to the parents. If your child can be well behaved and not be a distraction then its fine.“

    Just out of curiosity, it’s not my intention to offend you. If you feel offended, that’s probably due to my bad english 🙂

    Do you think only passengers in F (or maybe C) deserve well behaved children that don’t distract other people? Don’t all passengers regardless of the cabin class deserve enjoying their flight without being distracted by other passengers, in this case children?

    I somehow can’t follow your point, as it somehow leaves the impression that only passengers in premium cabins deserve a smooth flight.


  20. Flew EK F long haul recently and bought our 1 year old his own seat. Went smoothly, he slept most of the way one way but the other way was a bit tough. Everyone was very nice about it though.

  21. @Thenewone

    I personally fly First Class because I want more personal space, a good sleep and a peaceful & intimate cabin experience without disturbances.

    Do I think infants and children should be in First Class? As long as they are well behaved and do not impede other passengers enjoyment of the flight… sure.

  22. Agreed on all points Travis, and very well put. However it still makes me chuckle as this may be the most extreme first world problem I’ve ever read about! Well at least Junior won’t be cramped when he sleeps on that fully flat business class seat. Don’t forget to send his allotment of champagne and port back to me in seat 57B.

  23. I’ve have no issue at all traveling in domestic F with my kids when they were younger. Now that they’re 10 and 12, I’d have no issue traveling with them in international C and F, given that they function much like small adults in other public settings.

    That said, I think Premium Economy is the optimal location for families, as the seats are more comfortable (making my disposition better) but they’re still so close as to ensure I’m not ever out of touch with my kids and their actions.

  24. @Charlie – hardly.

    We on this forum talk about a bed in first class not being as comfortable as you would want it or the champagne not being served in a real glass on the ground. That’s waaaaaaaaaaaaaay more of a first world problem than the reality that many families face of traveling with their kids and which cabin to fly in.

  25. You know, one of the reasons OMAAT is so great and pretty much part of my daily Web roundup: Ben is smart enough to realize that his travel lens is not the same as everyone else, and that’s where guys like Travis come in – great perspective on travel with kids in general, and premium travel in particular. Nice work, Travis!

  26. @Tony V – we’ve always done the extra seat for the kid. If miles and availability aren’t an issue, then I’d strongly suggest it for your trip. Maybe you’ll get lucky and she’ll spend most of her time in that seat and give you and your wife a break. Worst case is she doesn’t and then you just have more room (and relative privacy) for the three of you to spread out. Also, for that age you may want to look into buying a seat harness from CARES ( – totally TSA and airplane compliant and means you don’t have to haul a car seat onto the plane for the kid to sit in – which becomes uncomfortable for her after a while and leads to her wanting to sit with you and not in her own seat. We have twins so the first flight we did with those harnesses instead of those big car seats was a game changer.

  27. Most elites describing flying in F. Not for the rest of us 🙂 We’re crammed with our kids in 40E. Useless information galore. At least mommy points did a much better job.

  28. @iv: I do understand your motivation for booking F, but does that mean other passengers who can not afford to pay F have to deal with the ones that are not well behaved?

    I just can’t follow the argument that only passengers that pay more are entitled to enjoy a peaceful flight.

    Maybe someone in Y is paying “a lot”
    for flying instead of e.g. taking the greyhound?

    I myself enjoyed some longhault flights in C on QR with my then 15 / 20 month old son. He was the most favorite passenger on the plane. But following your argument I would had to fly Y if another passenger would g ave felt distracted by him? Do I get it correct?

    I experienced some aggressive replys due to my lack of english skills. So again, still only discussing the topic 🙂

  29. @ Tony V. We have travelled a lot with our now 21 month old daugther. Started when she was two months and even the very long flights AMS-CGK-SYD. My daughter didn’t want to sit alone and asking the flight attendants to give us as parents the food seperately worked just fine. Our favorite is Garuda 777 AMS-CGK-AMS business as service is excellent and some middle seats don’t have privacy at all which is a perfect thing for “babyswitch”.

  30. I’ve traveled with my kids internationally since they were 1.5 and 3.5, for 3 years now. And we’ve flown about 20 long haul flights in both J and F so far.

    Let me share my experience:

    Overall, in my mind, there are important 3 things to ensure a good flight. The first is that parents should be able to control their kids behavior. There means that kids can follow your orders quickly after you ask once or twice (i.e. Lower the voice, stop crying, etc…) If you can’t even control you child’s behavior at home. You probably won’t enjoy internationally travel. The second is the bring enough toys or movies to engage them. We don’t let our kids watch Ipad at home but let them have it when travel. This gets them occupied. The last is that it is very important for parent to be very disciplined about sleep time both for kids and themselves. We have set schedule in terms when kids should sleep. And when they sleep, we sleep to get rested. Don’t try to watch one more movie when they sleep because you can’t sleep when they get up.

    Regarding J vs F:
    When my daughter was younger than 2, she was flying as a lap child. She was more comfortable saying with me so we didn’t get her another seat. During that time, I prefer the widest seat possible. So F is is much better than J, especially for CX, SQ where the width is 36 inches where an adult and a baby can sleep side by side. For J, I actually like the reverse herringbone seat where I put the baby at the top of the bed and I would put a pillow where the arm rest is and use the bottom of the bed.

    When the child is before 2 and 3, I agree with Travis that J is better than F. They are less independent and need help, and sometimes want to see you or hold your hands. So two business class seats side by side are the best. However, reverse herringbone seats can work. The key is to select 2 seats across the aisle, not D&G. Personally for our family of 4, we like G and K in 2 consecutive rows. If they are scared you can reach out to hold them hand. Also during meals, you can sit on arm rest area to help if needed.

    After 3 or whatever age that they become more independent (won’t cry when they don’t see you when wake up, and don’t get scared sitting by self during take off and landing), F is better than J putting cost aside. It is way more comfortable for the adults and kids. The added space is always a plus. And good flight attempts may be able to play with you kids. We’ve flown real F with CX, SQ, JL, OZ, and EY mostly on miles and had great experience every time.

  31. I am all for flying with children and most of the time the issue is not the behavior of the child, but that of the parent. I have a 7 year old that has become an amazing traveler. We recently got back from Europe and on the 9.5 hour flight home she occupied herself for the first 7.5 hours and at that point she just had to use the potty. That being said, we sat next to a family with a fussy infant. They did little to try and soothe the child, let it wander on the floor and under the seats, and then kept the dirty diapers in a plastic sack. When all I could do was smell urine I spoke up. Whether on a plane or on the ground, it’s the behavior of the adults that makes or breaks things, not the kids.

  32. Interesting to see all arguments used here are from the perspective of parents with children. Nobody seems to wonder if people w/h children or people flying for business purposes would have similar views. I certainly don’t. The thing is this. People buying a FC ticket pay for an experience. To me it seems therefore fair to not do too much to dilute that experience for othere who may be with you in the same cabin.

  33. Myself, my wife and our just-turned two year old have travelled from Japan to the U.K., Australia, Fiji etc. in the last year. We flew C and concur that the extra space was a godsend. Generally speaking, the other passengers were very understanding when the little one wanted to run around a bit or threw a tantrum. One tip is to make sure you call and book infant or kids meals well before flying, because we found they often only pack these onboard by prior request at least 48 hours beforehand.

  34. My comment might not be all that popular, but no kids should NOT fly in business or first. It’s a place where people want to escape to for a peaceful experience. I was on a BA flight from London to Miami and it was dreadful. Both business and first were covered in kids. The constant chatter, the smelly diapers and non stop ruckus was horrid. I did pay for that ticket and felt totally disgusted. Not everyone likes kids or the constant chatter that accompanies them. I’m ok with kids in general, but in restaurants and on airplanes there should be sound proof areas for them. Ideally on planes, babies and small children should just not be allowed. Drive instead, or take a boat.

    I did say my comments might not be popular here. But in particular in business or first, anyone under a teenage age should be strictly banned. I’d hope that people have enough common decency to do this on their own.

  35. I don’t think it’s so much which cabin as how the parents deal with the children. On a recent, relatively short, domestic flight, we upgraded to economy plus (or whatever it is called on that airline). A child behind us talked incessantly (and loudly). We were able to move to other seats. Wouldn’t have mattered which class on that one. But when we pay a lot for business class, I really do expect a very calm cabin. Screaming children don’t make for a pleasant flight and when going over the pond, I really do want peace and relaxation so I can sleep. Some parents seem immune to their kid’s noises, including the ipad Nanny with the volume up too loud. So, please, parents, think about those who have paid a lot for a seat and give some consideration to us!

  36. I have been on more flights with poorly behaved businessmen than poorly behaved children. It really does come down to parenting (in both cases)!

  37. Ultimately, I think that the kind of people who would be affronted by children on a plane will feel that way in any class of service, including economy. I paid for Economy Plus from Edinburgh-New York with a toddler once. He was great on the flight (we got up twice for diaper changes and he napped the rest of the time — no tears or noise or anything). We had four separate people approach us on the flight and comment on how he was the best “plane baby” they had ever seen. But the elderly gentleman and his wife nearby us were full of eye rolls and dirty looks for the whole flight, even when the baby was sleeping and couldn’t possibly be disturbing them. I could not have pleased them unless my family didn’t exist. You have to parent your kids to be on their best behavior possible on flights, regardless of class, and then just book what works for your family.

  38. I have flown many business class flights with kids. Some well behaved and some whose screams battle my noise cancelling headphones at its highest setting and a pillow wrapped around each ear ala princess leia. That said, I never blame the child because they are so young there is no way they can be expected to be reasoned that people paid a lot of money for their flight and want value for their money. However, at times I will blame the parents. Some are great, some I feel bad for because you know they want nothing more than a quiet child. Its not like parents want to have a screaming child on a plane anymore than we do. But there are some clueless parent. I have a friend who was a prime example. When her child was barely two, my friend “thought” it would be so wonderful to go to europe with her. You see my friend has an awful case of cinderella complex where she says idiotic things to me like true love will conquer your problems to which I would reply oh zip it unless you have a useful solution. Anyway, I told her it would be a bad idea because the child had never flown so there is no way of knowing what her reaction would be and she is too young to be reasoned with. Well cinderella didn’t want me to burst her dreams and as she explained it to me later it was a disaster because everything I said could happen did happen and everyone on the plane hated her and her family. Unfortunately, a lot of people decides to try it out anyway which is why many passengers have to deal with this unpleasant situation. Now if the family have to travel such as for emergencies then they have no choice. But if they are like my friend then I’m sorry, no sympathy. I’ve seen parents (in economy) piling food (like popcorn) for their child on the seat back tray. And when the kid want something else the mom would just casually brush all the popcorn onto the floor of the aisle. That particular type of behavior I don’t like. But you can’t tell anyone what to do because you know there will be world war 3 if you did. The only reasonable solution is for me to win the lottery and fly private. 🙂 but more than likely just keep my noise cancelling headphones on and enjoy the fact that I am lucky enough to fly to great destinations in business class at all.

  39. @Thenewone

    Everyone deserves to have a pleasant in-flight experience no matter what cabin they are travelling in.

    A First Class cabin has a very small number of seats = a smaller chance of a child/infant being in one vs. in economy. It’s all in the probabilities of math 😉 Then again sometimes the only child on the aircraft is in First! You win some and lose some.

    Sorry that you received some aggressive replies from others.

  40. It seems to me that appetite to bring children in F is limited to those who can do so with miles, essentially a few americans who use their CC bonuses. It is unlikely that many people would happily buy 3 or 4 full fare F tickets. I would be considerate to others who pay and expect premium and not bring my children.

  41. The week before Christmas, I flew SWISS First from SFO – ZRH. The aircraft has 8 FC seats in a 1 – 2 – 1 layout. I was seated by the window in 1A. The other 7 seats were being occupied by one family. The parents sat on the other side single seats 1 & 2 K. The three kids ages 10, 12, & 14 plus the nanny occupied the 2 center seats (1DG & 2DG) and from what I figured the man seated behind me in 2 A was some sort of bodyguard. I kept thinking it would have been cheaper for the family to charter a corporate jet! The kids behaved perfectly well – better than most adults. The father came by before we took off to apologize in advance. But there was no need. Before the flight landed, I commented to the Mother that the kids were perfect angels. She beamed and said thank you. The FA said the family flies the route 3x year – all of them plus the bodyguard – 7 FC tickets ?!?!? Wow.

  42. Probably not the most popular comment here, but I don’t think kids should be allowed in F or C. F/C cabins are small and the amount of noise that kids get to do (that just can’t be controlled, it’s normal at their age) just seems extra loud in such a small space. I think people making bookings with family should only be given the option of Economy or Premium Economy.

    Truth is that your kid won’t care if it’s C or F, Economy also has individual screens these days with cartoons and games. But a pax that paid for C or F wants the experience, the space and quiet that really can’t be found in the back of the plane. And don’t get me started on the smells and diapers and seat-kicking… just no.

  43. 3 kids of 10,12 and 14 is of course no issue. It is the category of 0-6 that can cry, scream, tends to talk at 95 decibels, runs around, not even to talk about loading up diapers during a longer flight.

  44. “keeping the circus under control” that is the key…. burden is on parents.

    Once traveling, a small toddler was running around the terminal screaming…..I mean SCREAMING
    You could hear the screams loud and clear throughout the terminal. And the parent? All he did was trot along behind her.

  45. Oooghhh don’t get me started on the diapers. Not sure if it is because of change in cabin pressure but occasionally the wheels have not even left the tarmac or the first six pounder WMD got loaded already. Most parents have at least the decency to replace the thing in a toilet but occasionally I have seen this happening on the table tray. I don’t have to tell you if they open it up before it got cooled down first that the hot steam coming out of it makes the cabin a quite unpleasant place to be.
    On a 16 hours flight the same thing will be repeated several times. So please please not in FC or BC.

  46. Having been bumped to Business from First Class (not full paid) because some family had 4 (+2 for the parents) of 8 total seats taken by kids (4-8 years old) I did get a bit annoyed that some 4 year old was sitting in MY first class seats while I had to go back into (still pretty awesome) Business. (It wasn’t the kids fault but it was still pretty annoying) I think it’s perfectly acceptable to have kids in Business or even First as long as they know how to act and are raised well. Having a kid cry in F/C for any flight is be a pain for everybody (including the parents). I recall on my return flight from Tokyo to Zurich (in Business). The Parents were sitting in first and left their two kids (baby and one 4-6 year old?) with their Nannies in Business. The Nannies did a poor Job handling the kids because they were preoccupied with the free champagne. The kids pretty much slept for the first half of the flight until the cabin was turned dark for people to sleep until arrival in Zurich. That’s when the kids decided to wake up, walk around the whole cabin turning on their lights and flashing them around going around throwing around toys (wooden blocks) and magazines (hitting me in the face with he latter and another guy in chest with he blocks). In the end pretty much nobody slept. If you have kids acting like that you should seriously rethink how you raise them. If your kids act well go for it, if not leave them at home.

  47. The thing is that everyone thinks they are great parents and that their kids are well behaved. And if he kid throws a tamper tantrum, “Oh, he never did this before!”. Kids don’t care if it’s F or C, so put them in Economy where they’ll still have entertainment; most Economy seats have screens with plenty of movies/games.

  48. Great post! Interesting perspective!

    I have been in CX F HKG-CDG with a man and his 8 or 9 year old son.. perfectly well behaved.. requested seat swap with me via FA so they could sit closer… which is the main problem with F-the privacy means you can’t check on junior as much…

    On some HKG-PEK flights in F (especially early morning flights), the toddlers are seen but never heard… maybe the parents drug the kids or they are too sleepy to make any noise…

  49. Last month, I flew DOH-PHL in biz on the A350. There was a family with twin 2-year-olds in the cabin, and one of them was always screaming or crying or thumping something. It was fairly miserable to be flying in such a great seat and deal with that.

    I don’t think that it’s about parenting, as I don’t think most two-year-olds are capable of “behaving” on such a long flight. It is what it is.

  50. As always, a very nice perspective from Travis. The privacy and space issue is not usually mentioned in many family-travel blogs – they usually turn this topic into an I-love-kids vs I-hate-kids debate. Great advice. Thanks!

  51. To Bob and Vid, people might have been “understanding” as I always am, but while crying babies are just part of life, you can be sure the other passengers were annoyed. It’s likely some first class passengers are spending their own hard-earned money on a dream trip. Crying babies can make a flight brutal. A baby doesn’t know where he or she is sitting so I say wait until your infant is a little older and let first call passengers travel in peace.

  52. In this day and age, I am just so grateful every time when I fly from point A to B in one piece, and not have had a plane malfunction, running out of fuel, suicidal pilot, or airport shooting, etc. Crying babies are the LEAST of my problems.

  53. I’ve got older kids 11,13 and 16 so they are pretty much self sufficient and we have done 4 or 5 return trips to Europe from Sydney in Etihad First apartments without any issues however my sister who has a 2yo and 4yo found it a bit difficult and the 2yo basically ended up with her the whole time or in my 16yo’s apartment. Qantas first can be problematic with the 3 across seating but our biggest issue when traveling as a family is finding enough First cabin space.

  54. Travis: what is that seat / accessory that your son was sitting on in the United business class picture?

    If it is a travelling car seat, is it easy to strap it onto the seat? Be it business / economy class seat?

    What is the longest length of time your kids have travelled non stop in that seat? What is your feedback? What about if you want them to sleep, where would you store the booster / car seat?

    I do take note of Brian’s comments on seat harness, but if I am renting a car & require to bring my own car seat, would this not be a viable option for me?

    Thank you.

  55. Not a huge fan of kids in biz or first that are under the age of five.
    @Travis, at what point do you educate your child that shoes on the seat is not acceptable?

  56. @Scott, at what point do you educate your attendant that you are unable to change your own adult diaper due to the smoothness of your brain?

  57. @Scott

    Great observation, that is indeed a disgusting pic that perfectly illustrates why kids below 10 should not be in FC.

  58. Great post Travis. We took our one year old to London over the holidays on a BA companion pass and ended up doing C on the outbound LAX-LHR red eye and F on the return, via ORD. We were very worried about all this but FWIW chalk ours up as another experience that was great. Luckily due to the holidays C was widely open and our daughter ended up with her own seat (offered by the FA, not taken or requested by us) and slept entire outbound (much better than I did as I know Ben would attest). The lady behind us who gave quite the dirty looking boarding actually smiled and complimented our daughter while deplaning.

    The return in F was much tougher, mostly because it was a daytime flight. We had two adjoining middles on the 747 and the main issue was not so much distracting other passengers as that all the extra space at the seats actually made the baby harder to “wrangle”. The FAs and purser were fantastic however, and invited us to hang out in the galley area anytime we wanted.

    A few suggestions from our experience:
    -the “harness” BA requires on takeoff and landing is unwieldy but not the end of the world.
    -If youhave a smaller collapsible travel stroller see if you can somehow carry it on, on the outbound waiting for all the “trolleys” coming off an A380 eliminated any time savings of being among the first off (and then some).
    -It was suggested to me that in a F a small gift for the crew is a reasonable touch. We purchased some individually wrapped premium cholocaltes in duty free which they graciously accepted. They may not have cared, but it sent a message that we wanted to be gracious guests and they responded in kind as hosts. In the future in F I might do something similar for the other pax.
    -Last point. Getting the most fun and luxury (or rest) out of F, especially on a daytime flight, will be hard with a toddler (duh!). So while it was much easier and more comfortable than Y, I spent a lot more time looking out the galley window and going on “walks” than I did drinking and eating.

  59. I don’t care if it is first, biz, or econ, the kids need to be well behaved. The higher the class, the better behavior the kid should have. The parents need to have control over the kids, and both need to be quiet, especially when people are sleeping. Airports are a bigger problem for us, and the TSA probably won’t be very helpful. If the airport has a kid play area, let them be there and burn energy. Once they are on the flight, they won’t run around. Also, ECONOMY IS NOT A PLAY ZONE FOR KIDS IN FIRST. We have had this problem before, and the first class parents need to think about the hundreds of other people on the plane, instead of themselves. It’s their children, and they should control them.

  60. I’m late to the party on this post, but I wanted to say my 3 year old had a LOT of fun with the Hello Kitty airplane toy she got for Christmas this year…until she brought it to me sadly asking why the seats wouldn’t turn into a bed so her passengers could go to sleep.

    Yeah, maybe she’s flown a bit TOO much in business class…

  61. Are you people retarded? First class should be banned for small children, unless you are absolutely 100% positive your kids will be silent. Business class, do ANY of you schmucks even know what BUSINESS class is? It is for business travelers so they can get some work done or rest (WITH QUIET) between BUSINESS/WORK meetings. Again, if you are absolutely 100% sure your kids won’t make a peep, no dice. Coach is for families, loud and crying toddlers and infants. Shaking my head.

  62. Collette, sorry but your an idiot, premium cabins are for whomever can pay for them. Of course you need to keep your kids under control, but I really hope the next time I fly I and my family am sitting all around you just to show you how ignorant you are.

    I guess from your hillbilly response that you maybe got that one time op-up or the premium economy experience. I can tell you having flown with kids in first on Qatar Emirates and Etihad (yeah real first class not the crap the US+3 claim is first) that having kids up there is perfectly fine.

  63. Traveling with a baby will make you see the ugly side of human beings. One British guy said things to my wife before when we flied coach with my kid and I just ran off on the loser. An obese loser gave my wife looks when she traveled with my kiddo alone. After that, I always fly first class with my kids because rich folks at least are less grumpy, better educated, and more pretentious. We are fortunate to be able to afford it and we did not run into low class losers after that. The worst thing happened was that an old man in first class sighed when my baby cried. I used this to motivate my oldest son to study and work hard so that he can live in a wealthy neighborhood like we do now, send his kids to private school, marry a girl from a good family, and travel with the winners. This is what my Dad taught me and I am glad he told me the truth.

  64. Like Malaysia Airlines, children under 10 should not be allowed in First. They are disruptive, noisy and can not be controlled. The self entitled parents think nothing of disrupting people who have paid 1000s of dollars for the flight. The photo of the 2 year old in the first suite is laughable. Total self entitlement.

  65. My kids are currently 4 and 8. They’ve only ever done domestic/ North American flights, and while I have been fortunate in that they’ve “behaved” —I.e. been quiet and respectful—every time (well every time but the one time my 11 month old was teething on a 5 hour flight, but we were in the back and people were nice about it). However, despite the fact that they have historically been good, I always spend every minute of every flight worrying over their feet bopping the seat in front. They’ve both known better than to do it on purpose since they were 1.5, but because their legs are too short to reach the floor, sometimes it just happens. I mean really—try sitting in a moving seat where you can reach he floor—it’s easy to get thrown around and lose balance….
    So in booking our first family flight to Europe, I decided to book first class. Not because I don’t care about the other people on the plane—just the opposite. In First, the lay flat seats mean that my 4 year old’s legs are just too darn short to reach the seat in front of her. So no matter how many times she repositions herself before going to sleep, she just isn’t capable of bumping anyone around her. And to me, it was worth the extra money and miles for us to be in a seat where I wasn’t worried about this for 9 hours straight. Just a thought to add to the considerations here. NO ONE wants their seat bumped on an overnight flight regardless of cabin; by putting us in First class, I’m ensuring she’s not in a position where she might accidentally bump.

  66. GREAT article and timely as well, as more and more business travelers want to go on vacation with their families and not sacrifice comfort. We’ve flown business/first with our son at least once a year in United / United Partners since 2010. We’ve found the most awkward moments are always when others in economy class(es) pass by and toss offsetting comments (I had no idea we live in the Peoples’ Republic of Flying); yet have never experienced any resent from crew or fellow F-class / B-class passengers. When you travel half a globe and back, having everyone well rested and happy is worth than more than money – entitlement doesn’t even play a role. Special kudos to Air India for providing a complementary inflight nanny, all-he-could-eat preordered snacks and entertainment galore while my husband and I got some much needed rest!

  67. One factor that has not yet been brought up: If i’m going to be sitting next to a screaming child, I’d rather be in F where I’m at least a couple inches farther away from the little darling, and the FAs will bring me enough free booze to make me care a lot less. 🙂

  68. So I have a crazy question. Is there any way around having to pay full price for a child (I have a 3 year old) in First on an international flight? I wondered if we purchased 2 First class seats, and one coach would it be possible for the kiddo to hang out in our seat (if we can get one reclining pod) during the flight? The idea would be that one of us would start out in the coach seat and at some point join the other in first and just have the kiddo share a seat with one of us until the end of the flight. He’s small so he easily fits on our lap or next to us. I’m not trying to game the system but feel like it’s crazy talk to spend all of that money for a tiny human who’s going to end up in my lap any way! Let me know if I’m pushing it too close to the limit with this one. Thanks!

  69. In my opinion there should be an area in the plane where kids are not allowed and i guess business is reasonable to argue why.

    I don’t mind the kids, but most families fly in economy and economy plus and there should be a possibility for people to avoid kids on there flight and more important for us to argue with complaining neighbour’s that they can book themselves a 1st class ticket if they bothered by our kids.

  70. I cannot believe some of those comments. Whether you’re in coach, business or first, you are a form of public transportation. You paying $20k for a ticket in F is not a guarantee for peace and quiet. It is rather a guarantee for a certain type of seat, catering, alcohol…etc. Might I suggest you charter a private jet next time? You can’t afford it? Will neither can I so we’re gonna share this aluminum tube for the next 12 hours.

    I agree parents should keep the kids busy and be mindful of other passengers, but some of the comments I’ve read above are just unreal. My favorite was that kids should not travel. The audacity here is just beyond words.

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