Don't mix business and babies
David FlynnNovember 7, 2011 - 10:08AM
Shattering the peace: is there a place for babies in business class?
The laptop is charged up. There's a good book in your bag or downloaded onto your Kindle, and this month's in-flight movies include a few recent releases you never got to see on the big screen.
It's going to be a good flight.
Suddenly it's not going to be such a good flight after all.
Let's face it: babies and business class simply don't mix. You pay to be in the pointy end of the plane because you want to get some work done, or get some sleep so you can arrive at your destination rested and ready for a busy day. Probably both. And a screaming baby is not conducive to this.
It's not that I dislike babies. (Ok, I do dislike them, but that's beside the point.) It's just an indisputable fact that any business traveller is more likely to enjoy their flight if there's no baby within earshot. Not all babies cry of course, but the odds are in favour of it.
How can you beat those odds? The safest bet is to fly first class with Malaysia Airlines. MAS controversially removed bassinets from the first class cabin of its Boeing 747s when a revamp of the first class seats left insufficient room for the conventional bulkhead-mounted baby baskets.
But on Twitter, Malaysia Airlines CEO Tengku Azmil cited a different reason for the 'baby ban'.
MAS, he said, had received many complaints from passengers who “spend money on 1st class and can't sleep due to crying infants”.
Azmil followed that with the admission that it was possible for MAS to fit bassinets to the pointy end of its 747-400s “but many people complain about (crying infants).”
Further, Azmil says MAS won't fit bassinets to the airline's new flagship Airbus A380s when they take to the skies next year, telling this writer that “we are planning to stick to our (no baby) policy for now”.
This puts MAS at odds with most airlines. Qantas offers specially-designed bassinets in the first class cabin of its A380s, although these must be booked in advance. British Airways and Etihad also allow infants to travel in first class.
Apart from booking a first class ticket with MAS, what are some other strategies?
Forget about reaching for your trusty noise-cancelling headphones. They're designed to drown out the thuddering low drone of mighty jet engines, not the high-pitched banshee wail of a six-month-old infant. Instead, use a pair of earplugs to block out as much sound as you can.
Most importantly, be smart when it comes to choosing your seat.
Avoid the back of business class, which usually abuts the bulkhead where economy begins and where the first row of bassinets are located.
If you're stuck in economy, use SeatGuru to check the seat map for your upcoming flight and where the bassinets are found – then book a seat that's well clear of those danger zones.
David Flynn is a business travel expert and editor of Australian Business Traveller.
Create a "Crying room" like we have in church. 2 - 4 seats where harassed parents can take their voluble brood so they don'y disrupt the rest of the cabin.
Manacle all ill-behaved children (and their parents) to somewhere near the Economy Class toilets.