Do Crying Babies Get You Kicked Out of First Class?

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A few Mommy Points readers recently alerted me to an unfortunate story of a mom and her baby who were traveling across the country from New York to Los Angeles in first class on a Delta flight. This was the mom’s first time flying with her baby, Ruby, and the mom and her husband had booked first class seats so they could lay down with the little one for the several hour journey. A quick look back at her previous social media posts shows that she was pretty anxious about flying in general, and specifically nervous about taking her first flight with her baby.

Crying Baby Asked to Leave First Class

Unfortunately for everyone involved, on this particular travel day the little one got tired and overwhelmed and started “screaming crying” on the plane. This sounds like a classic description of “over tired” when very little will go well until the baby ultimately passes out. However, in that interim period of “screaming crying”, before sleep finally arrives, the related “eye rolls and head shakes” from fellow first class passengers reportedly escalated to a Delta flight attendant asking the mom to move from first class to economy with the crying baby. No surprise this made the mom even more upset and anxious, and let’s just say it sounds like their first flight didn’t go as well as they had hoped.

On our way to LA a few days ago it was my first time flying with Ruby, I had a screaming crying sleepy baby who was so overwhelmed that she couldn't fall asleep. My husband and I paid for first class so that we'd have the extra space and could lay down with her – once we were boarded I was getting tons of eye rolls and head shakes from fellow passengers on @delta because my baby was crying (as if I could just look at Ruby and say okay now it's time to stop 😂). I tried to ignore the people until 10 minutes passed and a flight attendant came over to me and asked me and my baby to move to the back of the plane (as if the people in the back didn't matter). Give up our seats that we paid for and move. Apparently I was upsetting and getting a lot of complaints from the first class passengers. I started crying because I was so stressed and anxious and instead of the stewardess being helpful and compassionate she instead made the situation worse. I don't know what's right and wrong when it comes to flying with a baby but after telling a few people the story they were in shock. Thoughts? We're headed back to NYC today and we're hoping for a much better experience. ✈️

A post shared by Arielle Noa Charnas (@somethingnavy) on

Crying babies on airplanes are hard on everyone, but let me assure you that they are hardest on the parents who not only want to soothe their baby, but also feel the pressure to stop the impact on others. I can only imagine how stressful that must have been for a first time traveling mom and dad…and of course also for everyone else within earshot.

Having touched on this topic a number of times, I also know there is a contingent of travelers out there that think babies (and even young children) don’t belong on planes until they are old enough to play chess, and that they sure as heck don’t belong in first class. It sounds like some of those folks might have unfortunately been aboard this flight turning a stressful situation into a super stressful situation. However, public transportation is public transportation whether it is seat 1A in lie-flat first class, seat 27E in economy, or the last row of a Greyhound bus. Everyone on board has an equal right to be there, and an equal responsibility to be as respectful of others around them as possible.

Control what you can control, and be gracious with the rest. A crying baby cannot be totally controlled, but they and their parents can be aided as much as possible to shorten the duration and intensity of unhappiness, and that is what should have happened.

What Should Happen When a Baby Cries in First Class

A crying baby on a Delta flight in first class should not trigger a seat reassignment to economy. That’s not just a Mommy Points opinion statement, but it is backed up by Delta’s official statement on this story. Delta states that, “We fully support all passengers traveling in the class of service for which they’ve paid.” In other words, if you paid for first with your lap baby, you are supposed to be able to travel in first, even if the baby isn’t always sleeping or smiling.

You don't lose your seat even if your baby isn't always happy

You don’t lose your seat even if your baby isn’t always happy

Here’s what should have happened with a “screaming crying” baby on the flight…

If you are the parent or caregiver of a super unhappy baby on a flight, stay calm and do roughly what you would do at home to get to the cause and solution. This will mean working through issues like are they cold, hot, uncomfortable, dirty, hungry, bored, tired, etc. Most of those problems can be solved, even on an airplane. They go-to for me is always to simply nurse the baby. They cannot cry when nursing, and that solves a number of problems at once. If you aren’t nursing, then a bottle and/or pacifier can also have similar results.

Over-tired is a tough one, and one to try and avoid as much as possible on a travel day. An over-tired baby or toddler (or adult) simply malfunctions until you can get them to pass out. Staying calm, rocking, feeding, swaying, etc. can all help bring sleep as quickly as possible, but it isn’t instant. You can always reach out to a flight attendant for additional ideas that may help as they have probably seen it all before.

Tips for Flying With a Six Month Old Baby

The crew and other passengers around a family in that situation can best aide everyone by simply supporting the parents or keeping to themselves if there is nothing they can do to help. If it is safe to walk the aisle with a hysterical baby or sway in the galley area, that could be a good offered option in a supportive way. If the parents need a blanket or sip of water, or whatever, that should be offered. Dirty looks, whispers, seat reassignments, or worse won’t help the parents stay calm and keep their focus and energy on their upset baby.

I know that crying babies are no fun on planes. I’ve been impacted by it repeatedly myself, even on a premium cabin overseas flight, but as a passenger it is your responsibility to have ear plugs, noise canceling headphones, etc. That won’t totally keep you immune from the sound of a really unhappy baby, but hopefully it helps until the situation passes. Moreover, just remember to be grateful that it isn’t your little one who is in discomfort or distress, and that all you have to do is sit there and try to focus on something else.

Thankfully this story has a somewhat happy ending in the family’s flight back to New York City was perfectly fine and Delta has reportedly apologized, refunded their flights, and compensated them on top of that. They reportedly are donating that additional compensation to UNICEF, and I hope their roughest flight is behind them.

If a really upset crying baby happens to you on a future flight remember to stay calm, stay focused on your baby, ask for assistance as needed from the crew, and remember that you shouldn’t lose your assigned seat just because of an upset baby. If that happens for some reason, still keep calm and follow up with the airline later on for assistance and compensation.

Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.

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  1. Unclear if she actually moved back to economy when requested. Hopefully not, but if there was a refund and compensation perhaps so.

  2. What a tough situation.

    For those who have paid thousands to sit up front and have a screaming baby ruin their experience, I sympathize.

    As a father of two, I sympathize with the parents — although I do hate-look at any parent who refuses to use a pacifier in situations like that or practices “permissive parenting” (my child is just expressing him/herself).

    If the child won’t take the pacy, that’s a different story.

    In the end, it’s a public space and one hopes everyone is respectful of one another’s rights.

    • As a parent of two children two years apart we flew with them often–even as infants. I would see people look at us with trepidation as we boarded. I am proud to say that after every flight we took with them, at least one person (often more) would come up and tell us how much they appreciated how our kids behaved on the plane.

      The secret was simple: preparation and knowing and paying attention to your kids. We packed carefully, bringing pacifiers, distracting toys, books and games, snacks, bottles (whatever was age appropriate at the time). If you watch and know your kid, you can tell in advance when they are about to get restless. You take action before they start crying. Pacifier, bottle, food, toy, whatever–something to change their pending state. When they were older, they knew that if they sat quietly for about 30 minutes or so, they could pick a new toy or book out of the surprise bag. The surprise bag was usually stocked with items from the dollar store, so this really was not a big expense.

      Was it work and preparation for the parents? Yes. Was it worth it to know we were not disrupting a plane load of people–and that our children were having a good travel experience? Yes!

  3. What about the rights of others, who have paid for seats in first class to be able to enjoy the flight without the deafening screech from a baby, because the parents are selfish idiots and decided to travel with a young baby that clearly shouldn’t be anywhere near a plane?

    Why should 100s of other passengers be audibly harassed due to selfish parents? Damn right they should get moved to coach, or even better, remove from the flight completely.

    Wait until your child is old enough to undersrand before subjecting the public.

    • “What about the rights of others,……..”
      As is often pointed out by MP, “this is public transportation” and you have no right to complain! That’s life so you’ll just have to suck it up!

      • Seems like you missed the next sentence there Lucy:
        “…an equal responsibility to be as respectful of others around them as possible.”

        The retiree quietly reading her book or the Gen Xer sleeping in his seat nearby could hardly be more respectful to fellow passengers on “public transportation” (actually private, and with numerous conditions of carriage), whereas noise pollution in all forms isn’t respectful.

        Not possible to wait until the child is a manageable age? Not possible to use a pacifier? Not possible to provide a pediatrician-approved sleep aid? Questionable.

        • >Not possible to wait until the child is a manageable age?
          Is that a joke? So I need to keep a child from visiting his grandparents the other side of the country because your selfish persona can’t put up with some crying? Yes, life is hard.
          >Not possible to use a pacifier? You must have no children. When they are tired, they want to sleep and they want a BED or a stroller, whatever they are used to. Having them in arms won’t do it. The pacifier is totally useless. They will cry until passing out.
          Get real, Evan.

  4. We had this happen on our overnight flight back from Hawaii. Were in 1st class when the baby woke up and just would NOT stop screaming. Probably because she was in an unfamiliar place. Woke everyone else on the plane up. It lasted for about 6, maybe 7 min, but it sure as hell felt like eternity as we were trying to calm her down.

    The only thing that happened was that the flight attendant asked if we needed any help (as if she could really do anything). We paced with her up the aisle, bouncing her and trying to get her to more light so she could understand that she was with mommy and daddy and hopefully relax. We made sure to apologize to everyone on the plane, but for the most part, people were ok with it saying “that’s how life goes”. I can understand someone being extremely pissed (as I would be) if the parents didn’t give 2 shits about a crying baby, but I think because people saw we were doing our best to try to calm her down as a team (not just one parent shrugging it off) that we may have had a “positive” reaction from fellow passengers.

    Now, if someone came to me telling me to get back in economy because of the crying baby (as if that will help…you’d hear the baby from back there as well when they’re in this type of a fit) I would probably have some choice words back for such a sanctimonious a-hole. Especially after doing everything I could to get my daughter to calm down ASAP

    • Completely agree! Do people really think because they are in first class they won’t hear a screaming baby in coach? It’s like they think they are in some sort of precious bubble up in first class. We took our daughter in first class to Hawaii at 8 mo and are doing it again at 2 years. The airline knows ahead of time that there will be a child there, if they have a problem with it then they should change their policies.

  5. I guess this lady will get tons of apologies, SkyPesos and even money from Delta. While I can understand that a baby crying can be annoying to other passengers my wife and I travelled several times with our kids when they were babies and after many hours inside that metal there is not much one can do it (maybe cry with the baby??? :))) Well, not sure what the policy is for domestic first class tickets but when we paid for our international business class tickets we also paid A LOT for our baby to fly with us. Thus, the airline was completely aware that a baby was going to fly on a premium cabin on a PAID ticket. Thus, there is no way a FA would move me and my wife from our seats just because the baby was crying. They took our money, right? I don’t want to start another very complicated topic here but how about people traveling with animal companion? Well, I am allergic to dogs and cats. Usually, they move me and not the person with the animal to another seat. You get my point about the ones complaining about the baby, right?

  6. While it’s genuinely kind of you to credit all parents with trying to quiet their crying baby for the sake of fellow passengers, I have found that’s not always the case. Just as there are parents that are oblivious to their children running around a nice restaurant while screaming, some parents just don’t seem to care. Maybe it’s just really, really good earplugs. That said, the majority of parents are just as you described. Any suggestions for the cases where the parent(s) just don’t care?

  7. Completely wrong that the woman was asked to move. She had paid for the seat she was in – end of story. As she said herself why were the people in Y less worthy of consideration? There’s nothing that can be done about a screaming child on a flight so everyone around might as well just suck it up and save their energy – however if they don’t act graciously and give the parents the evil eye then that is just tough also and the risk you run if you choose to fly with kids.

  8. I had 8.5 hours of a crying fussy baby in FC on EK. And it was horrible. So everyone knows I have three children all grown but they were raised that a certain decorum was expected out of them especially when in public, otherwise they were left home which included trips. Many parents today do not always enforce even common sense when comes to their children in public. I understand that as a parent you “tune out” certain noises etc from your kids, but please don’t do that in public sitting next to me.

    We said something to the flight attendants first then to the parents and were greeted with not some welcome responses. First class is not the place for children unless they are behaved. I am sorry but that is my and many others opinion. I worked hard to fly FC I am not flying on points I am not scamming the system to be there I got it the old fashion way “I earned it”

    I hope that I have not insulted anyone reading this but it is a fact of life.

    • This was a baby. Not an older kid who should know better. At this age that is how they communicate.
      What difference does it make how much money you paid for your seats? If it’s rude for you to be “subjected” to a crying baby, it was rude for the “lower” class people in back.
      Like it or not, parents have the right to be out in public with their kids. How are they supposed to learn to behave in public if they are never out in public?
      Personally I am tired of the children should be seen not heard mindset. And I am someone who does not even like kids that much. But I’d rather hear a baby cry than hear some of the antics of a drunk adult in public. Or going out to the store and seeing teenagers goofing around and screaming Marco Polo at the top of their lungs. Can we kick out annoying adults and teens from public places too?

    • You mean to tell me that Emirates didn’t give you noise cancelling headphones? ::rolleyes::

      As Santastico pointed out…on an international flight, a parent probably paid decent coin to have their kid sit ON THEIR LAP. I had to pay $650 to have my child sit on my lap ONE WAY to Australia. If that parent wasn’t paying attention to their kid at all, and being a shitty parent, that’s one thing. Else perhaps you could have offered help to the parent instead of taking a cowards way out and sent the FA’s out to “do your bidding”?

  9. I’ve had first-hand experience with flight attendants who think a crying baby is all the parents’ fault. We had a late flight out of Orlando with our 13 month old, and, lacking a hotel room after 11am, we had spent the entire afternoon rocking and walking the baby to try to get her to nap with no success. I kept looking forward to the flight, knowing that she would pass out as soon as the plane started moving. And she did, until they rebooted the IFE system and the screen blinked on right in front of her face. I turned it off and sang lullabies into her ear to keep her from crying until she fell asleep again, at which time they rebooted the entertainment system again. Over the course of the 2 1/2 hour flight they rebooted the system 6-7 times. Not wanting to bother anyone, I sang to my daughter for the entire flight — successfully keeping her quiet. When we landed, we waited until the plane was mostly empty, and I handed her to my mom while I followed with our carry-ons. Exhausted and upset about being separated from me, my daughter cried her way off the plane. After my mom and daughter passed a group of flight attendants, I heard one of the male attendants say, “Stupid parents — keeping their babies out in the parks all day, and then inflicting them on us.”
    This was rather more than my 7-month pregnant temper could handle, so I’m afraid I went up to him, trembling with rage, and explained that he had no clue, and that if they didn’t want crying babies they shouldn’t wake them up every 10 minutes rebooting the screens. In retrospect I’m so glad I didn’t get in trouble for letting him have it, and I know I didn’t do my cause any favors. =P
    Still, for those of you who think parents are not doing anything, it could just be that you haven’t seen how hard they have been working.

    • Sorry. No sympathy from me. As one of six children, parents refused to put any of us in a plane until we were old enough to manage ourselves (read 4 years of age). Parents would drag us out of a grocery store if we made a scene. A 6 month old does not know any better but a parent certainly does. Would love to see airlines institute the following: no children under the age of 5 in First Class. No child on an airplane if they can’t sit in a seat by themselves. Problem solved!

      • Rob, you cannot expect a noise-free environment on an airplane. What about people who talk loudly, people who snore, people who play music or watch movies and shows on their electronic devices without headphones, teenagers who talk loudly and have high pitched giggling fits every few minutes, and sick people who have bad coughing fits? Should all of these people be banned from flying? Why do people single out babies and small children? Why is crying from a baby unacceptable but disruption from adults and teenagers is tolerable? A baby cannot help them self, but there is no excuse when it’s an adult doing the disruption.

        You live in a society. And babies and children are part of society. If you can’t handle them, move to a deserted island.

  10. I definitely don’t think it was right of the flight attendant to ask the passenger to move to first class. Delta sold the parents the ticket knowing they had a <1yr old on the booking. It's good to see they made up for it.

    I do think though, based on the mom's previous comments about being apprehensive of flying with the baby, that the mother probably knew this was a likely possibility. My nephew at that age cried, on average, 25 hours a day. We visited my sister in law & family when my nephew was that age and almost checked into a hotel. If this baby is of a similar crying pattern, then I kind of blame the parents for taking the baby on the flight when she might not be ready to fly.

    Either way, I do feel sorry parents when this happens. No one wants their baby to scream.

  11. My parents refused to take any of us on flights until we were a certain age at which we wouldn’t disturb others. They didn’t want to disturb other passengers.

    Different time we live in nowadays.

          • Then wait one year or two until your child is old enough to behave themselves. The vast majority of travel by parents with babies is completely discretionary. Don’t you think it’s just a little selfish to put your desires over 100’s of others? I have zero sympathy for any of you who demand that your fellow passengers bear the consequences of your life choices. People pay a lot to sit in first class to sit in peace and quiet. They are the ones entitled to a refund and apology, not this selfish mother. I would very much like to see a no children in 1st/business under X years of age policy on airlines.

          • To WR and Lucy below: This is public transportation. Even in 1st class. How about the loud and obnoxious people drinking around you? Do they need to stay home too? People pay a lot for different reasons, with seat comfort being a big one. Airlines don’t advertise nor offer privacy or quietness, that’s an assumption on your end because of the price segmentation that results of the 1st class fare. Alas, someone can afford that for they bay.
            Furthermore, flying with a baby is hard enough for the parent that they won’t do it unless the benefit outweighs the cons. You have to carry a lot more stuff, and you are the one that suffers the most with the crying as well as the stress from people like you. So stop thinking is selfish people that don’t care about the rest.

    • Sometimes there is no choice. My trip to Florida, for instance, was for medical reasons, and I did not have the option of leaving my 13 month old home. Should we have spent 4+ days driving round trip on the off-chance that the baby might cry on the plane? It is difficult to make blanket statements: there are so many different circumstances.

  12. I know I won’t change the mind of anyone with anything I say here, but things are different now than in previous generations for a number of reasons, one of which air travel is far more mainstream and attainable than it was even 30 years ago. Just look at how people dressed to fly 30 or 40 years ago vs. now to see the difference in black and white. Babies shouldn’t be in first class when airlines stop selling seats for them to sit there. Full stop. I’m all in favor of a nice family section of the plane, but I am not okay with only being in the most cramped seats just because I have a child. It is on me to do everything I can to minimize our impact to others, but after that point we all just cross our fingers. For what it is worth, my worst flight was not the ones with the crying baby but with the guy who kept trying to sleep on my shoulder all night. That was way worse. Flights with nearby snoring people or drunk people are also worse, but all of those things are just a part of public transportation.

    • “Flights with nearby snoring people or drunk people are also worse, but all of those things are just a part of public transportation.”

      MP, your experiences are certainly different from mine. In all the domestic and international flights I have taken, of which there have been many, I can honestly say I have never encountered a disrupting snorer or drunk. On the other hand, screaming babies, toddlers and young children are becoming ever increasingly the rule on most flights taken. I truly wish it were not so.

    • Yep. They sold the ticket knowing the infant can cry and bother others. They took the risk, they should pay when it doesn’t work out. That being said, they should keep the baby in FC since his parents paid for it, and compensate other passengers for the disturbance.

      Personally, if the parents are trying to soothe the baby, I just grin and bear it. They’re trying. I might give them reassurance so they won’t feel too pressured. It’s not like it’s fun for them either. If they don’t do anything and let the baby cry, that’s when I have a problem.

  13. I’ve had a few similar experiences.

    Repeatedly I was on afternoon flights, even one redeye back from Hawaii. On that one we’d skipped nap so going to sleep would go easier. Settled in quiet, strapped into car seat, goes right to sleep…. delightful….

    BING BONG THIS IS CAPTAIN MAX VOLUME SPEAKING BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH (continues).

    WAAAAH!

    Ugh. Suddenly all careful planning and soothing ruined. Because crew has to spend 10 minutes telling us about the flight, thanking us for flying their airline, pimping the credit card, etc.

  14. The simple solution is not allow free lap babies in first class. If you want your under 2 year old in first class then you must purchase a seat for it. I see way too many lap kids in the premium cabin these days but rarely do I see kids over 2 because when parents then actually have to pay for the seat.

  15. I’m a mom, and I once had a flight attendant teach me a trick that helped. When a baby cries in flight, it may be because the cabin pressure hurts their ears. Take a passy, dip it in a small sugar pack, and let them have it. They will suck like they’ve never sucked before, and it will help relieve the pressure. It works! I know none of us want to introduce sugar too early, but my thinking was that if this little bit of sugar could help my son’s ears, it was worth it.

  16. So the parent acknowledges they paid for first class “so they could lay down” and presumably sleep. Guess what, so did most of the others in first class (upgrades are rare now on this route) and they did so with the expectation that they could sleep.

    So what’s fair? Move the two people at fault and allow the others who paid for flat bed seats to sleep or let them stay and NO ONE sleeps?

  17. First class is like a five star restaurant. I also loathe people who bring a screaming kid to a 5 star restaurant. Also the kid isnt paying for a seat. The parents are holding the kid in their lap fee free. Unlike pets that have a $150 fee each way!

    • You may be right for domestic flights but lap infants pay a lot to fly on their parents lap hen flying internationally. Here is what Delta says on their website: “*If traveling internationally with a lap infant, the cost is usually 10% of the adult fare, plus international taxes and surcharges.”. Also, it is not 10% of what parents paid for their tickets but 10% of the full fare. Thus, even if parents paid a cheap business class fare or are redeeming miles the cost for the lap infant will be very high. Thus, while I agree with you that screaming kids on planes and 5 star restaurants is not nice, on the case of the airline they took the parents money so they agreed to fly a baby on a premium class.

      • You are right about the charges. Delta made us pay 10% of their one-way business class fare to Europe for a lap infant which was $800+. So this is far from free.

      • This flight was NY – LA, a domestic flight, so in this case the baby was flying free. Seeing as a crying baby uses airline resources and impacts the value of the product for others, they absolutely should be charged for the infant, even on a domestic flight. As it stands, they paid the same amount as other passengers in that cabin while expecting more in terms of services.

    • Realistically, it’s more like Chili’s vs. McDonald’s. A substantial upgrade, but far from the top of the heap.

      All domestic commercial air travel is a cattle call… we’re just different grades of beef. 🙂

      If you want the 5 star experience, charter a flight… no crying babies there. Of course, it’ll cost you a large multiple over coach, but so will a 5 star meal when compared to McDonald’s.

  18. Asking them to switch cabins was a poor move, IMO. That said, we’ve been on two flights recently in international J with screaming infants. Each flight was in excess of nine hours, which seems like an aggressive flight time for an infant. Total crying time was ~2-3 hours on each flight.

    MP, do you think there’s a threshold by which a certain amount of flight time for an infant is a bad idea no matter what?

    • Everyone is different and travels for different reasons. Personally speaking I didn’t go beyond 3-4 hours in the first year with my second daughter and less than that with my first. But….I could reach all of our family members in that radius and I was able to avoid work travel beyond that perimeter as well, so I know that won’t apply to everyone.

  19. I can and cannot believe what I read. We have traveled many times in paid f with our two girls. A1s first flight was a redeye and sure we got looks but the crew was totally understanding. (The best was the looks from the folks who didn’t get upgraded). On another flight with both A1 and A2 on delta in f the flight attendants went out of their way to help us out. They offered to hold A2 so we could eat our meals. They made sure we had access to a lav when we needed it to change the girls. So for us United, Delta, and Alaska have been great for us with our little ones.

    Part of me wonders if the nervous mom plus crying baby was the issue. Not sure but thinking that way.

    You are absolutely right though. You can take care of everything on a plane short of overtired without too much trouble. Heck we had a full blowout 20 minutes out and the flight attendants didn’t make a fuss about using the lav with the seatbelt sign on.

  20. This makes me really regretful for not flying my ex-infants on biz/FC just to be moved back to econ. W/ all the apology points + flight credits I would’ve waited a few years to travel with now-toddlers to far more exotic places than just ORD/JFK/AUS

  21. The solution is to bill the credit card of the parent of the crying infant a set amount, say a thousand dollars per person in first, and then distribute that money to the other passengers. Scum who would keep a crying child into a premium cabin need to be put it jail.

    • Parents are billed a set amount – that’s what a ticket is. Don’t want to be subjected to the public? Don’t use public transportation. If kids weren’t supposed to be in a particular section of the plane, airlines wouldn’t sell them tickets. Amtrak has a quiet car, totally fair that kids aren’t allowed there. If planes had that, agreed, kids shouldn’t sit there. Until that happens, suck it up.

  22. I think I’ll start a blog to teach parents how to always fly babies in F for pennies on the dollar.

    And why is it always Delta? First the black doctor, then the dudes speaking Arabic, now a baby? Someone needs to look into revamping their flight attendant school.

  23. Why are people so mean? We can’t control every situation. Crying babies don’t bother me half as much as old ladies with way too much perfume or people with body oder. The absolute worst is sitting next to a nutcase flying with little fluffy and the pooch gets diarrhea 10 minutes into the flight and I have to smell the stench from coast to coast. Bring your noise cancelling head phones on your next flight! Mean,mean people.

  24. You’re absolutely correct that Delta’s behavior was out of line, but you made two statements that I think are misleading, and should be cleared up so that we can discuss the true issues:
    1) Flying is not public transportation. Public transportation is taxpayer funded and government-operated (or operated by a licensed concessioner.) It’s a public utility. Air travel is *not* taxpayer funded, and therefore no one has any “right” to be anywhere other than what’s allowed by law and by the contract of carriage and fare rules. If Delta wanted to, they could absolutely make a rule that babies (or any loud noises) are not allowed in first class. I bring this up not to be pedantic, but because it’s important to understand that your “rights” on an airplane are many times not the same as your rights on the ground. Calling air travel “public transportation”, muddies the waters of the discussion and brings all sorts of connotations that may not be applicable.
    2) Every time this discussion comes up, someone suggests “just get noise-canceling headphones”. People who make that suggestion are probably mislead by the name “noise-canceling” headphones. They don’t actually cancel all noise! They block steady, low-pitched noise, like engine noise. They don’t at all block variable, high-pitched noises like crying babies (or annoying conversations). They actually make the crying baby problem worse!

    Whew! Now that we’ve cleared those misconceptions out of the way, we can get on with the discussion!

    • Wow, well said and thanks for the clarity. Now if only others would stop their belief that they have unlimited or fictional rights.

      • A fair point, but at the same time this is still not a private area and the other travelers have no ‘right’ to quiet.

    • “They actually make the crying baby problem worse!”… this is true, not to mention the drunk jack hole problem!

      That said, a decent set of earbuds (non noise-cancelling) will block a decent percentage of all noise. With some music at a decent volume, even better. If I flew routinely these days, I’d get a good set of closed ear headphones which would block 80% or more. My kids actually have decent headphones like that so that can watch videos on road trips without having to turn the volume up too loud. Win for us since we can listen to music in peace, and win for them (and their future hearing.)

      • I always carry a set of noise-cancelling headphones. However, by federal law, they cannot keep all noise out in the event of an emergency. I’ve sat in a plane with a screaming baby and the phones did little to keep out the noise.

        Likewise, a flight to Europe with an infant?! Who would subject a child to such torture?

    • Patrick, if you are trying to make a technical point about public travel then I suppose that is correct. Each carrier is a private company and, yes, can technically create their own rules if they wished. I don’t think that this is the angle people are talking about when they refer to public transportation. It has nothing to do with who is funding the operations or whether it is a private company or government entity. Commercial air travel is public transportation because you are intersecting with the general public. (Almost) anyone may buy a ticket and end up on your flight and in your cabin of service. It is not your private plane where you may control your immediate environment and who is with you. Just like on a bus, subway, train, cruise ship, etc — you have no control when a malodorous person is seated near you. You have no control if an obese passenger is seated next to you. You have no control if your seat passenger is loud, obnoxious, rude, chatty, etc. This is all regardless of what class of service you are in. And likewise, you have not control if there is a baby in your vicinity. If that is unacceptable, there are private means of travel that will allow you to avoid most of these unpleasant public interactions.

      Look, no one wants to be seated near a crying baby. My wife and I are avid travelers and we have a 4-month-old. We have typically only flown first class for the additional room and the improved comfort of the seats. There is essentially no chance that we are changing this because we have a baby. I like to think that we are not just attentive to our child, but aware of those around us. We’ll see how it goes, we have our first flight coming up in May (ORD-RSW in first).

      By the way (and I am a physician), [lease don’t put whiskey on your baby’s gums. A very small one-time dose of Benadryl is not harmful per se, but it may not help at all and could actually have the opposite intended effect. Plus, your child could end up getting zonked and you may have a new set of issues on your hands. Don’t sedate your children just to prevent them from crying. They are babies. It is their only form of verbal communication.

  25. If airlines would stop letting people have FREE lap children that would cut down tremendously on this problem. Why should a baby travel for free? I think whenever possible one should not travel with a baby until they are past about 18 months old. Let family come to YOU for the first year. It’s not that difficult to just not fly anything for a year or so. Yes there are exceptions and someone might have to fly for various reasons with a newborn. But they need to pay for the infant. If people had to pay for infants they would not be taking them near as often and certainly not in first class. I have children and I fly in both business class and coach so I can see all sides of this.

    • This is so true. We flew with our children when they were young. They had their own baby seats, and because of this they were far more comfortable than they would have been if we had been holding them.

      Off subject slightly, but we took our infant son to lots of nice restaurants and he was an angel. Then came the second child, and on our first upscale restaurant outing both children were terrible, because they competed for attention. We did not make that mistake again, because we didn’t want to disrupt the expensive dining experience of other diners. If the airlines aren’t going to ban children in first, they need to at least ban lap children of any age.

  26. As someone who does not have kids I do get annoyed by children crying on flights. However, I am less inclined to be upset if the parents are trying to calm the child. If they are trying and failing I give them a pass because kids are kids and flying can suck regardless of age. However, if a get a kid kicking my seat and I ask them to stop and am told, “he’s just expressing himself” I am tons more angry and annoyed than a squirmy, crying kid who has parents trying to calm them. I’ve had parents say, “she just needs to cry it out” on a plane. I get that kids sometimes just cry but at least try to help them along. We are all stuck in a place where I cannot get away from you and the noise the child generates. Please don’t pick this moment to teach them a lesson by ignoring their crys. I know it may go against the way you want them to be raised(don’t give in to tantrums or they will continue), but in that space you may have to budge and let them use the ipad or have a snack for everyone’s benefit.
    Had I been on this flight, of course I would have been annoyed at the crying child but I think I would also would have been understanding at a mother trying her best.

  27. I’ve been on flights where parents have done NOTHING with screaming babies. Not that steams me. Try to fly when your baby is tired (not OVER tired) so that they can fall asleep. Have their comfort items at hand. Have their own seat (not sitting in your lap) so that they aren’t kicking your fellow travelers (this has happened to my husband). Ask your doctor if you can safely give them a little bit of something or other–I know my mom put whiskey on my gums when I was little and I’m just fine–to help them sleep. On the other hand, I had just gotten onto an international flight in business class and we hadn’t even left the ground and a baby was crying just a bit and some guy went ballistic. They moved his seat very far away. Even I thought he was being ridiculous as the little one calmed down soon and all was well for the flight. I feel for the babies–they don’t know what the heck is going on with the pressure on their ears, but I do agree that people fly with very little ones when they should probably wait until they are older. As someone else said here, the passengers being annoyed did pay (and a lot) for their seats. Did baby have a paid seat? I doubt it. And if I just got up and started singing at the top of my lungs, I’m pretty sure flight attendants (not stewardesses–that’s insulting by the way) would say something to me!

  28. Can no one just buy some noise canceling headphones? I feel that if you can afford first class tickets you can afford Bose.

  29. Curious as to why so many people opt to fly with infants. I understand that sometimes there is no choice, but in most cases it seems that these children are being brought along to visit family or on vacations. The infant won’t remember the trip, and it’s the relative who wants to see the baby. Shouldn’t the relatives who are so eager to see these kids in person be the ones flying around? If they aren’t willing to do that, but instead expect the parents to pay for travel, and bundle up their babies onto a plane, maybe they should be satisfied with just pictures and videos and Skype and all the other means of communication we have nowadays…

    • There’s a million reasons, but one simple one is that life just doesn’t stop when a baby is born. I mean for the first few months I would probably avoid discretionary travel in most cases, but if you have multiple kids, then you will probably have a young one for a better part of a decade. Not everyone wants to just pause their life for that long. If you were a big traveler before, you probably will want to eventually keep that up again at some point with your new family members.

    • I had to move from Japan to the east coast of the US when my daughter was 5 months old. I had no control over the situation and it was a lot of plane time.

      Life happens.

  30. From my perspective, as long as the airlines allow the bookings then parents have the right to be there. There are some global airlines who have age restrictions, and so be it. Setting aside the financial aspect, it’s unlikely a U.S. carrier would be able to get away with that… which may be part of the parent ‘entitlement’ problem that we suffer from in some situations.

    In regards to the $1000 ticket: if someone is willing to pay $1000 for a $300 flight… let’s call it $100 extra per hour… they do not value money the way I do and hence I have to value that money the same way they do… which seems to be not much at all in my context. The point being that I can’t say “OMG! $700 and a screaming baby” anymore that I would be aghast at a waitress spilling a $300 bottle of wine that I’d never buy.

    Does anybody who isn’t stupidly rich actually pay first class cash prices?

    That said, the mom being nervous was probably part of the issue. When our kids were very small they would always sit with me as I project an island of calm. Unless of course, the FA had tried to make me give up my seat due to crying babies. 🙂

  31. Sorry, when I’ve paid for a First Class seat… I did it for luxury, not crying infant syndromes. First Class is my alone time as I travel most of the year…no noise but the air beneath us, please.

  32. We were told (by our then pediatrician – chief of pediatrics at one of Detroit’s two largest hospitals) that one of the main reasons babies cry on planes is that they don’t know how to swallow to equalize air pressure changes, and their Eustacian tubes aren’t large or mature enough to self-adjust. The result is extreme pain in the infant’s ears.

    We always carried a few bottles of sterilized water and water nipples so our children could drink and try to relieve the pressure imbalance. (Water instead of formula or breast milk to avoid messing with feeding schedules.). It didn’t work all the time, but it did in the majority of cases.

    But parents of babies planning a trip by air should consult their pediatrician before they travel.

  33. Wow lots of opinion on this one. Couple of my thoughts are:
    The mom most likely made it worse by being some nervous and the child picked up on that.
    Delta FA didn’t help much it seems.
    Fellow First Class passengers likely paid about $1,000 each to sit in comfort.
    Babies can be cranky, sick, have ear pressure issues, etc.
    I don’t think I would have been happy to be a follow passenger but noise cancelling headphones wouldn’t have helped some (if offered on this flight)
    Babies cry in whatever cabin they are in so it matter little to move them to Economy

  34. I was in bulkhead coach next to a very nice mom and lap baby crying off and on from coast to coast. Wax ear plugs and noise cancelers didn’t do it for me.
    Those seats are a favorite for parents and their infants. I now avoid them.
    For this reason, planes should have a rear section of bench seats (no arm rests) which are sound proofed. It makes sense, so let’s forget that right away.
    Airlines need to do a better job in customer relations.

  35. Noise issues aside, flying with an infant in arms is outright dangerous in the event of severe turbulence. Airlines should not allow this, and parents should not do this.

  36. “The vast majority of travel by parents with babies is completely discretionary. Don’t you think it’s just a little selfish to put your desires over 100’s of others?”

    “Don’t you think children should be seen and not heard, and that my desires are more important?”

    There, fixed it for you.

    That flight attendant is extremely fortunate. That it wasn’t me with my child.

  37. I truly hate to suggest this and the baby’s pediatrician must be first consulted but Benadry will put the baby sleep. And I know the criticism this post may receive.

    • Yes, my criticism: why didn’t you post this earlier?!?!?

      Seriously though, Bendryl makes our son VERY wired and testy, or at least it did when he was a toddler. Apparently that is the case with a small percentage of humans (and dogs for that matter), so do a test run test first.

    • Not quite. Benadryl can go either way, and the pediatrician will warn you about it. It my case, it made my son hyper active and worsened things. So we opted to stay away from meds at all, is just not a good idea for a baby that’s just developing.

  38. I’m wondering if the mother’s anxiety and nervousness didn’t transfer a bit to the baby. I see many parents today who are so hyped up and fearful over the whole infant/baby experience. I just wish they could chill – it would be beneficial to both baby and parent. A conversation with their pediatrician prior to flying would have armed them with strategies to resolve issues that can arise during flying. I also think it’s unfortunate that this couple had their flights refunded and were compensated on top of then but I didn’t hear that the other passengers that were affected also were compensated in some way. Reinforces the unfortunate stereotype this generation has – and is maybe posting their way to earning. The world is changing but I hope there is still a place for respect and thoughtfulness of others.

  39. Wow. I’m really shocked by the number of people who think that children should be seen, not heard, and kept with the nanny back in steerage. As others have pointed out, baby’s can’t talk. They cry. They’re also incredibly empathetic, so if you have a nervous mommy being told by an FA to shut her kid up or else, I can 100% guarantee that will NOT help settle the baby down. Obviously we all hope for a quiet and comfortable flight, but the notion that children should be kept at home until they can travel with a 100% silence guarantee shows a shocking separation from reality.

    PS There is no way a 5-hour trip crammed in a metal tube with hundreds of other people will be perfectly silent no matter where in said tube you paid to sit and whether any babies are present.

  40. How others react in this situation is one of the markers for the ‘matured society’. I know it is inconvenience and no one including the parents do not enjoy the situation. But it is what it is.

    This is where you can see the difference between ‘selfish society’ and ‘civilized society’. Developed country or First world is not measured by ‘wealth’ but by ‘People’.

    This is what I just thought when I read this message. I may be biased because I have two kids (now they are in high school) but we went through this when we traveled when they were young. And I am regular traveler now and I put myself in their shoes and accept it.

  41. Not much to add here. We flew with our kids when they were babies and we did our best to keep them quiet. But did not hesitate to bring them into first or business class. They are actually better behaved when they have more space. Certainly anyone who relies on the airline for food and entertainment is loco – you have to bring your own.

    Now I fly solo all over the world in paid business class or domestic economy. When I hear a baby I just smile and put on my Shure inner ear buds and crank up the music. We were all babies once. Most parents do their best to calm their infants but it’s near impossible to maintain 100% silence.

  42. Are these people out of their minds? This is a baby and this is life. Babies cry, that is a fact of life. Get over it! You are not there to watch a movie or for some exclusive entertainment in some high club that a no babies are allowed to cry. Move out of the first class and let others take your seat if you mind having a baby crying. jeeez

  43. Let me assur you that the one that the screaming crying baby situation is hardest on us not dad or even mommy. It is baby. Things are hard enough in life, much worse in the pressurized cabin.

    Now people tend to think that babies are only mom and dads problem, they are the ones that decided to get the little toys. However , for all the childless people out there, if you ar thinking of reaching old age, and mint need someone to take care of you at the end, it is going to be someone younger than you, whether you had kids yourself of not. If you value any of mankinds accomplishments and character, the next generation is necessary as well.

    We can try to blame this mom and this dad, but there is no evidence that they did anything wrong. And as to first class or economy class, coach passengers are not some lesser beings who should be shielded from humanity, paying for first class does not make people royal either.

  44. Flying on an airline is NOT public transportation. You are the paid guest of the carrier and they can deny you boarding for just about ANY reason (read their contract of carriage). Is doing so right? That would be debatable based on the situation. But airline travel is by all means not public transportation in the commodity-sense like a subway or bus are. The other thing is, decisions like this are made by flight crews and airline employees to appease the greatest number of passengers. Other examples include not holding a connecting flight for two people, because doing so would delay the other 190. Not everyone will always be happy. It’s just the name of the game.

  45. I love how indignant some people get about this. Nobody is saying babies can’t be on the plane, but why should they be in first class where passengers pay a premium for peace and quiet and being able to get some sleep? I’m sorry but why should someone else’s baby disrupt the peace and quiet of everyone in a premium cabin? I would never bring a baby into first class and it is quite rude for parents to do so. Those seats are extremely expensive and people pay for them for a reason. It has nothing to do with first class passengers thinking they are royalty and everything to do with first class passengers paying a lot of money for the first class experience. The problem here is Delta should have never sold a first class seat to a baby to start with. They shouldn’t have taken her money and then told her to leave. That is absurd.

  46. Its pretty simple. I dont like to hear babies or adults when I am on the plane. I NEVER travel without earplugs and headphones. As long as no one is kicking my chair or impeding on my personal space this is all a non issue.

    I also know some parents when traveling with babies bring earplugs to hand out in case the baby cries.

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