Babies in First Class: Which Side of the Aisle Are You On?

Before booking a first-class ticket, parents must make an informed decision as to whether they think their child will be a disruption, said Elaine Swann, the founder of the Swann School of Protocol, an etiquette school in Carlsbad, Calif. This means being conscious of the length of the flight, the time of day that they’re flying and the age of the child. If it seems like the child will be a disruption to others, parents should select another section of the plane, Ms. Swann suggested.

“This is where we need to think about how our choices and our behavior can impact others’ well-being,” Ms. Swann said.

Parents of babies should also be prepared to soothe their children with food, drinks, toys and entertainment, said Jacqueline Whitmore, an etiquette expert and former flight attendant for Northwest Airlines who is now the director of the Protocol School of Palm Beach, an etiquette consulting and training firm. Since there’s no policy prohibiting children and babies from flying in first class, then as long as they are respectful and well behaved, they belong there, she said. Plus, Ms. Whitmore said, many of them are better behaved than some adults.

Collette Stohler, a travel journalist and the co-creator of Roamaroo, a travel blog, has taken her baby to six countries and seven states in first class throughout his 8-month life, and she said she’d received many compliments on how well behaved the infant has been on those flights. That’s more than she can say for the adults surrounding her child.

“We’ve encountered plenty of ill-behaved, loud, drunk and entitled adults that disturb the peace in first-class cabins on many flights,” Ms. Stohler said.

When Dr. Amy Guralnick, a pulmonologist, took her 3-year-old to Israel from Chicago in business-class seats, the woman next to her immediately switched her seat to coach to avoid being around the baby. The man who claimed the abandoned business-class seat was loud and obnoxious and spilled his drink on the baby, who slept throughout the entire 12-hour flight, Dr. Guralnick said.

“When deplaning, the original woman saw us and said she kept checking on us during the flight, and saw that Sasha slept the whole time, and lamented that she hadn’t kept her original seat,” Dr. Guralnick said.

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