Malaysia Airlines bans infants from first class cabin

In what is no doubt a controversial move, Malaysia Airlines has recently advised travel agents that they will no longer be allowing babies in first class. More specifically, they won’t be offering bassinets in first class, and no bassinets means no babies. Malaysia’s CEO is very active on Twitter, which I find awesome, and justified the move by saying this:

Also hv many complaints from 1st class pax dat dey spend money on 1st class & can’t sleep due to crying infants

Gotta love a CEO that knows some shorthand! šŸ˜‰

This is always a tough topic and you can’t really win either way. On one hand if parents are willing to pay the sticker price for first class, why shouldn’t they be allowed to take their baby? On the other hand, if you ban infants in first class, why not also ban them in business class, since that’s an airline’s “bread and butter” when it comes to profitability?

Your thoughts?

(Tip of the hat to Australian Business Traveller)

Comments

  1. Perhaps if they can afford to buy First class tickets, I am sure they would pay the nanny to ride coach with the baby? no…? šŸ™‚

  2. Sounds fine to me (but I don’t have kids).

    Saw two parents in business once on Qatar while their three kids were with a nanny, or some other handler, near us in coach. Now that’s a way to fly!

  3. I often find that adults can be much more annoying than kids. In general, I have no problem with infants on flights.

  4. A big YAY to Malaysia Airlines!! I have long said that there should be a “crybaby” section in the very back of the plane where parents and their kids 8 and younger can wail and scream to their hearts content. Also, it is completely unfair that kiddos should be permitted in the first couple of rows of coach where they annoy the heck out of their neighboring (likely Elite) passengers as well as the people in the last rows of Business/First.

  5. @ Carl — Totally agree, though at the end of the day adults can control their behavior, while infants can’t. Therefore if an adult acts out of line you can ask them to stop, while you can’t ask an infant crying for five hours to stop.

    @ Jimgotkp — Wut r u taking abt?

  6. I think it is great! I was coming back from Hawaii in United First and had a screaming infant lapchild next to me. It was an overnight flt and I got no sleep. I finally walked back to economy plus!

    Last yr I was on a Lufthansa bus. class seat from FRA to IAH and there were 2 crying babies in the row in front of me. I actually PAID for this ticket. It was not an upgrade or mileage ticket.

  7. An infant’s scream, which are the only thing that my QC-15’s can’t drown out can ruin a long flight. MCO is the only route where this should be exempt.

  8. We have a five month old who has flown from BOS to Europe, Asia, California and Hawaii in all F. Despite his young age he is accustomed to flying, we keep him fed and he is quiet. On a somewhat recent LH flight in F one of the passengers made a remark in german about flying with kinder and then snored loudly through most of the flight.

    I’ve also been on flights with somewhat drunk adults in international F and C that were much more disruptive than infants.

    If VBITs and Kettles can’t adequately supervise their kids, maybe they should stay in Y.

  9. Just to add, would you rather have someone taking pictures of you in first class (or business class) than privacy with a well behaved infant?

  10. +1 Carl and Speedy–have flown with baby/toddler biz both to Hawaii and internationally, and have only gotten compliments on his behavior. Flying biz definitely made it easier on him, us, and everyone else, since there’s more room for the toys, books etc. to keep him busy and it’s simply a less stressful experience. Naturally if he had ever become noisy we would have taken him to the back of the plane to calm down, but fortunately was never necessary. Rather than indiscriminately banning parents/kids from first, a fairer and more viable approach is to simply request that ALL disruptive passengers (kids or adults) either be quiet in their seats, or go to the back of the plane until they are.

  11. That seems a bit much…then again, the parents should just give the babies a drop or 2 of whiskey, that’ll knock the kids out šŸ˜‰

  12. I agree with GJB, not all families should suffer because some infants are criers. We just got back from LAX-HKG and received compliments both ways for how quiet our baby was. If Malaysia Airlines wants to ban infants-that is a bit extreme and they’ve definitely lost my business altogether.

  13. +1000!

    I have my first ever LT first class flight for my wife and I this spring. I am also giving ourselves lots of time for the 1st class lounge in Frankfurt. The idea of a screem’er to destroy this experience just makes my blood boil!

    IMO most (I know I am going to get slammed for this) parents who ride up front with kids or infants just don’t care about others on the flight. This happens to me all the time!

    So I say kudos to Malaysia Airlines and yes biz class too would be great Lucky!

  14. As the father of an eight month-old baby girl (with whom I’ve already taken 4 transatlantic trips in biz so far), I have a couple of comments. First, “no bassinets” does not mean “no babies” — I didn’t use a bassinet once, because it wasn’t offered, and my daughter just slept beside her mom on her lie-flat biz seat and sat on my lap during “awake” hours. Second, I doubt many families are flying their infants in first class, so it isn’t an issue big enough for an airline’s CEO to comment on — he just wants to make waves and show off his Tweeting “skillz.” Having said that, those families who are willing to pay for first class are just as entitled to sit there as anyone else and at the same time are obliged to follow the same “no public nuisance” rules as anyone else. In other words, if the baby starts crying out of control (which happens and there is no need for dirty looks…ehhem), do as I did and take a walk to the galley to calm it down and everyone is happy. After all, if the baby can sit in coach or biz, then those areas are just a short stroll away from first — no need to “ban” anyone. I don’t know about Malaysian law, but in most countries this move wouldn’t last a day if challenged. Personally, I wouldn’t challenge it and just look for a friendlier airline.

    For those of us here who are vehemently “anti-baby,” I know where you’re coming from — I didn’t always have a baby. But you *will* change your mind once/if you have kids for one simple reason — if none other: how would you like to be relegated to coach (even though you can afford otherwise) just because you are seen to harbor a “plague?”

  15. I guess even if the passenger can afford a nanny, it cannot assure the infant will not be crying. Certainly infants and toddlers behave differently and this move is definitely laudable. I believe the crybaby section be out officially at the back of the plane where the stewardess can be jolted from their sleep. Hehehe. especially when they do sloppy work!

  16. I am pretty sure that the % of passengers who flies in paid F on MH that brought infants onboard is in the single digit, so losing 5-10% [very conservative guess] of the business to make 90-95% of the customers happier and improves employee morale [no angry customer complaining inflight about infants and employees getting suck in an awkward catch 22 situation with crying infants, etc]… I guess they did a cost/benefit analysis and felt that the benefit of banning infants in F outweigh the downside of continuing to allow infants in F.

    I am not sure, but infants fly for free, even in international F? Why should the airline have to deal with an infant in F when the infant technically flies for free? Should they charge a “premium” of several hundred dollars for infants in lap in the premium cabin? So basically, those under 2 years old are banned, but children between 2-18 years old are still allowed to fly in F.

    Simply put, I think FAs should be given the authority in the policies/procedures to have any disruptive passenger moved at the FA’s discretion until they settle down before returning to their seat. That includes drunk or classless adults, children high on sugar, etc.

    Yes, it is public transportation, but there are common courtesies and everybody is expected to follow those courtesies. If one cannot follow those simple courtesies, which includes being quiet then you really should not fly. This applies to everyone, not just infants.

  17. @A.S.
    Babies aren’t “charged” for their First Class flight. While I too am a parent and can not classified as “anti-baby”, I still agree that those under at least 2 years of age should be “seated” in the rear of an aircraft. A baby’s crying is a natural intense means of communication for the child. It is meant alert the parents to take some action, which some do and some do not. Guess this issue boils down to common courtesy to others.

  18. Correction, apologies it is still 6AM here :p

    Last sentence of the first paragraph in my previous post should be:

    “I guess they did an analysis and felt that the benefits of banning infants in F outweighs the benefits of continuing to allow infants in F.”

  19. @Rich (and others): Just to clarify, infants under 2 years of age are charged 10% of the cabin in which they are flying (including First) + taxes. As you know, some international First class tickets can cost over $10K, which which means the infant can (and probably is) paying more than most coach passengers on the same flight. And keep in mind that this infant does not have the right to a seat, so they are charged just “to be there.” I would not call that free by any means of the imagination.

  20. Maybe I missed it but is this just for child in lap? I took my 18 month old LAX-CDG on AF in J but got him his own seat. The three in the middle was a blesing for keeping him entertained for the 2 hours he was awake. (slept the other 9).

  21. Never bothered me before I had kids. I just put on the headphones and it was movie-time. When I fall asleep a punk band won’t wake me up. Remember some people might have to fly w/kids. It’s a tough move by Malaysia. Make the peasants suffer? I did pay for an economy seat for my baby too.

  22. I wonder who the people who hate kids in this comment section, so much that they can’t be bothered with their presence, expect to take care of them in their old age- perhaps they’re planning on committing suicide before they’re infirm? Or maybe they won’t mind when they are elderly and treated with the same contempt they have for children? It’s not like changing adult diapers are less messy than changing infant ones.

    Pity that we can’t all be glamorous and 25.

  23. The responses above are exactly what I was expecting to see.

    Those without kids think it’s a great idea. Those that have kids think that it’s ridiculous. Their kids aren’t the problem. They’re perfect angels that never cry. I’ve never met a parent that thought there child was the problem. It’s all those other kids. Certainly there are exceptions to the rule, but you get my point.

    One of the greatest benefits of a premium cabin is being able to get sleep. If a child is preventing that by crying, then the value of the premium cabin greatly diminishes. Proactively banning children from first is a very strong decision, given that not all children will cry on the flight, but I support it, as an effort to retain the value of the cabin they paid for.

    eponymous_coward: Your comment is absolutely absurd. Nobody said they hated babies. Just because people don’t want to hear a crying baby doesn’t mean that they hate them. Not everyone needs to pay the price for the choice that the parents made.

  24. A.S. – I agree with your comments. I am soon (hopefully) to have children and there is no reason they should be banned from any class.

  25. I be sick of hearin dem babies up in my phrist class on MESA JET PLANES FOR UNITED WORLDWIDE AIRLINES.

  26. I travel alone on business a lot and need the sleep. It’s not cheap to travel in premium classes. I have paid my own way. Malaysia is a good airline. A hard choice for them. But guess what I have 2 kids ( 2 and 3) and pay for their seats, fly economy and am happy to.

  27. CDiddy said it best.

    I, too, support this decision. There should always be other airlines and other choices for people with kids, but people who want peace and quiet(and NO screaming infants) have a right to get it, too. I hope there will be more childfree flights in toto in the future – this way the subject will become moot, as everyone will get what they want, and we’ll hopefully be the happier for it.

  28. I’m sorry, CDiddy and others…but some of us DO have great kids who make no noise. Some of us parents spend a great deal of time with children on planes and to relegate us to the little, no room, cheap seats just because we have children is absurd. I remember one time sitting in first class with my infant and being treated like such trash by the other passengers (you would probably be one of those!) just to have THEM be louder and more disturbing. They argued back and forth with each other, meanwhile, my baby slept and ate and was quiet. By the end of the flight 3 people apologized for the initial remarks. It does happen that there ARE good kids out there. My kids are by far better trained than most adults as far as traveling is concerned. Without argument, my kids pack their own bags, get through security without any mishaps because they know the drill now and behave on flights. They know if they do NOT, they don’t get to go places. We take long flights (and by long I mean 8+ hours) at least 4 times a year and several shorter flights. If my kids couldn’t handle it we wouldn’t go. Currently, they are aged 9, 8, 5 and there is one due this month. We will be taking the little one of his first trip in August. Just a short trip, in economy to test out the waters and to get him used to traveling. Start them out young and they will learn to be far more courteous and professional about traveling than you or any of the other naysayers…

    With that being said…there ARE a lot of people and cultures who simply don’t believe that children should be disciplined or told what to do. Those people are the ones that make it difficult for the rest of us. I’ve had to take baby’s away from people on flights before because they simply couldn’t handle them. Most mistakes are made before even getting on the plane. They don’t choose their flight time wisely, they choose horrible seats with no room and they don’t come prepared for the flight…or worse, they drink themselves into oblivion and forget that they HAVE a child! That was the case with the little one I had to rescue once. Truly sad. So yes, there are children/parents that shouldn’t be on flights…but there ARE some of us that should. There are always idiots…even adult idiots. In fact, I don’t see many terrorists who aren’t adults…do you? Which is worse? An adult terrorist? or a crying child? Maybe we should ban all adults from first class too. Heaven forbid that part of the plane blow up first.

  29. Only if it were true and this was the CEO’s shorthand. Alas, the education system being what it is in Malaysia, this is likely the CEO’s attempt at written English. I’d like to know which MAS flights continue to have F class – oh wait that would be the flights that the Ambassador to the US takes which must have F, even though MAS is losing money faster than John Corzine.

  30. Fr 2 years i travelled woth my son F Class on the british airways and it was a bad experience , my son was 5 years old and he was playing with his ipad , it was a long flight fr waahington dc fo london … then another 5 hours flight to egypt .
    The lady who was sitting behind me was about 70 year old rude … very british …she just saw my son sitting playing and she went crazy start to yell at me and told me that i was an unfit mother…and i should even turn off my netbook ( actually was reAading) i was shocked bec first of all the sound of the plane engines was louder fr the i pad and secondly fhe flight attendant yelled at me while i was arguing with the lady and told me shuuuu keep ir voice down …. my son got scared and tried tp jump fr fhe partition to go to his father and i was told by fhe Flight a .. look what ur child is doing is this a normal child ??? really i cried hard from their rudness and within an hour my son was sleeping the whole 7 hrs of the flight…all i wanna say we r not on a hotel it’s a plane … if i seek having a confortable flight .. we mothers have the right too … if u don’t like it pay extra and renta private jet !!!!of course a well trained crew can help as i didn’t find any problem on emirates or etihad or qatar airways … because they learn what is hospitality ….and how to make the passengers happy and entertain children …remember u urself were a child before ….. and baning infants fr F it’s like treating them as second best …..if u r bothered put something in ur ears and accept thwy so have a right to be aboard …and by the way infants are not free on first … u have to pay 10% + taxes so my coming child wil sit on my lap and still will travel on F.

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