My wife gave birth to our first child nearly two months ago, and the time has come for us to plan our first airplane trip to see the grandparents.
We looked for things like easy connections, times of day that matched his sleep schedule, and ideal seating configurations before we made our choice. But then a funny thing happened. I noticed there were upgrade seats available on all the long flights we were going to book, and I had the miles. Should I do it?
I took to Twitter first and asked the simple question: "Will people kill me if I upgrade to first class with a baby?"
The responses were certainly mixed. Most parents chimed in suggesting that I should absolutely do it, while others said yes, they would, in fact, kill me.
Seasoned travelers seemed unfazed. "I wouldn't care, that's what noise canceling headphones are for," responded one traveler with the handle @brianmcspadden.
There was enough disagreement that I figured this was worthy of a format that doesn't require limiting thoughts to 140 characters. I posed the question on my blog, The Cranky Flier. Around 50 comments later, I found most to be quite encouraging, but it was far from unanimous.
Henry Hartveldt probably said it best: "Brett, I've seen adults on planes behave far worse than any baby."
The big concern is that the baby just cries the whole flight and disturbs everyone around us. Of course, as Nicholas Barnard pointed out, if we were in the first row of coach, the first class passengers wouldn't exactly be shielded anyway. So the key is really this: Don't just sit there while your baby screams. Do everything you can to calm him and people will be more understanding.
For newborns, takeoff and landing are the hardest parts, because of the change in pressure. One commenter suggested giving a bottle or pacifier during takeoff and landing to help with the pressure change. That's undoubtedly going to be helpful. But that should be the biggest problem, at least for a child of this age.
A physician weighed in, saying "infants mostly sleep and don't have to be entertained. But when they are hurting, nothing can distract them. As other responders have reported, it's mostly the parents who don't work hard to mitigate the impact of their 18-month and above children on the rest of the passengers who have created the issue in question."
Certainly my wife and I will be actively working to calm him if he starts crying. But it does sound like this age is a good age for flying up front. Once he gets older (and mobile), that's when we have more to worry about.
But still, others believe that children should never be allowed in the most premium cabin on the airplane. Malaysia Airlines agrees -- it banned babies from flying in first class. Other airlines don't feel the same way.
I even called the airline directly to ask if there were any issues with upgrading with a baby. The agent couldn't find anything prohibiting the upgrade, but she spoke with her supervisor and again found nothing.
We ultimately decided that it was worth it for our sanity to get the upgrade. Not only will we be more comfortable, but we'll get checked bags included. I haven't checked a bag in years, but with a baby, it's inevitable.
The trip is in April, and you can be sure I'll be back here with an update on how everything went. In the meantime, it's your turn to sound off. Would you upgrade with a baby?