Should Babies Be Allowed In First Class?

The ultimate first world problem.
A debate between the haves and the have-nots.
A debate between the haves and the have-nots.

The whole online debate over whether babies should be allowed at the pointy end of a plane started a few days ago when social media celebrity Arielle Noa Charmas was allegedly asked to move from First Class to Economy with her crying baby.

The New York based fashion blogger who goes by the handle Something Navy informed her (almost) 1 million followers on Instagram that airline Delta had received complaints from other passengers in the First Class cabin. She claimed that the flight attendant asked her to move to the 'back of the plane'.

"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," the post read.

"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."

Her experience sparked polarising responses. It seems there's two camps of thinking when it comes to babies in First Class, or other fancy places for that matter.

On one hand, babies (and in turn, their crying) are a natural part of everyday life. Babies need to go places with their parents and often that involves air travel. If a passenger books and pays for a First Class seat, they have the right to utilise that area as they see fit.

"Sad that people are so ignorant towards babies when it's out of your control sometimes when they cry . I'm flying for the first time with our son that is just turning 1 and this is exactly what I am so nervous about!" one follower wrote.

The bathroom in the first class section on board an Emirates A380 passenger plane.
The bathroom in the first class section on board an Emirates A380 passenger plane.

On the other hand, other passengers have also paid a very large sum of money for a certain environment. It's assumed that First Class will be quiet and comfortable -- a place where people can relax and get some rest.

"In all honesty, put yourself in the other passengers place. You're not the only one who paid a lot of money for first class, and I'm guessing most who paid for it was because they wanted space and peace and quiet not so they could lie there babies down. The airline should have a better policy," another follower commented.

If you booked a pricey dinner at Tetsuya's or Dinner by Heston, would your experience be dampened by a crying or screaming baby at the next table? And would it be fair to expect no babies be allowed in that calibre of restaurant in the first place?

Qantas flights in First Class are around $15k (return to L.A from Australia) and Etihad Airways is around $7k each way to London from Sydney (or $20k each way for 'The Residence'), to give us regular folk a guide as to what these types of flights cost.

The First Class passenger bar inside an Airbus SAS A380 aircraft, operated by Qatar Airways.
The First Class passenger bar inside an Airbus SAS A380 aircraft, operated by Qatar Airways.

While most airlines don't have any written rules about infants in First Class (though Qantas does have a lot of very helpful information about traveling with infants on their website), in 2011 Malaysian Airlines did ban babies in their most premium seats. Richard Branson has also discussed creating a kid's cabin on future flights.

"I would love to introduce kids' class. It would be a separate cabin for kids with nannies to look after them. We've had an issue with the Civil Aviation Authority. They worry in an emergency kids would be running in one direction and their parents would be running in the other. So we haven't got it through yet," Branson said.

It's an interesting one, indeed. And as for Charmas? Her and her family were eventually allowed to stay in their First Class seats, being spared from the rest of the cattle.