You’re at the end of one business trip and headed to another one immediately after. You calculate you can get five hours of sleep on the airplane in your business class seat. You lean back, close your eyes, and then are startled by the crying of a toddler.
Should that child be in business class in the first place?
This question was posted on Quora and I was (pleasantly) surprised by the response of the business travelers who responded.
First of all, my thoughts. I used to go on a work trip, barely get home, then have to turn around again and go back somewhere else again. Because of that, I relied on sleeping on the plane a lot.
So when a baby started crying on the plane, it interrupted my sleep. Did that mean the baby didn’t belong in business or the mother (or father!) erred by sitting there with their child?
Of course not.
A baby crying is a lot less intentional than a friend yelling across the aisle to another friend during a red eye, or that person playing his video game with the sound on during a 5am flight. The baby can’t help it and is literally distressed. If we started throwing babies out for making noise, it would be hypocritical not to do it to Mr. Loud Talker. (Not that I’m advocating throwing out either one).
When I started feeling stressed about a baby crying, I kept remember Dr. Art Carden’s advice, “When you feel mean, do something nice.”
That really helped things for me. But the important thing was, it gave me a way to improve the situation (vs. complaining about it).
More recently, my friend Emily handed me a pair of earplugs and suggested I use them for redeyes. Duh, Jeanne.
That changed my sleeping-while-flying life. When I put those babies in, I’m out cold, and no toddler or drunk set of friends is going to wake me.
But back to the Quora thread. Most business travelers said, of course the children are welcome. They explained why they look so irritated at the time, but that’s mostly due to the lack of sleep they have from the business travel. So while they are grumbling at that moment (or possibly sending dirty looks), that’s them at their worst.
And no, buying a business class seat does not mean that I somehow have a magical right to not be seated near children. It might reduce the likelihood, which is fine, but the mere fact that I have more resources to buy a plane ticket doesn’t make me “more important” than the folks in coach, and somehow entitle me to a child-free flying experience.
Another business traveler comments that it isn’t the toddlers that bother him, it is the other business class passengers:
These people are amazed by the free alcohol and improved service in comparison to what they are used to getting, and boy do they make use of it.
There will be times that these folks, traveling on their companies’ dimes will treat this as an open bar party, but there are some of us who are just trying to get some decent shut eye and arrive ready to work. If you’re toddler is well behaved, great. If you’ve got a baby that will be crying for half the flight and running around in the aisles for the other half, then that’s not the best for everyone else.
Is it inappropriate to bring a toddler into business class? I don’t think so, just be aware that some of us aren’t just trying to be snooty, we’re just trying to be effective with our livelihoods.
How about you? What are your thoughts on this (sometimes) controversial subject?