Is it wrong to be upset about babies in business class?

Is it wrong to be upset about babies in business class?

It’s not very often that I’ll write about controversial subjects, but I’m feeling extra saucy today. Let’s talk about babies in business class. More specifically, is it wrong to be upset by it?

  • On one hand, nothing ticks me off more than parents who book business class knowing full well that their baby is going to scream bloody murder for the entire flight. It’s the complete lack of consideration for all the other passengers who paid a lot of money (or points) for a quiet experience that irks me.
  • On the other hand, I can’t imagine how hellish it would be to fly with lap baby in economy class on a long haul international flight. I totally understand and appreciate how a larger business class seat would make things a lot more comfortable for both the parents and the baby.

Does it really make you a bad person if you’re annoyed by screaming babies in long-haul business or first class?

All the reasons why it’s OK to be upset about crying babies in business class

Sometimes, as much as I try to be compassionate for the parents and the babies, I just can’t help but feel negative things towards them. However, I always end up feeling terrible about it later (once some time has passed and I realize that it was just a temporary inconvenience).

China Eastern 777-300/ER business class headphones
The moment you realize that the flimsy headphones they give you in China Eastern 777-300/ER business class won’t be enough to drown out the noise from the highly-perturbed 9 month old boy three rows behind you. Thinking back on it, maybe he was crying about the headphones…

Without trying to sound overly insensitive, I still believe it’s OK – and perfectly natural – to be upset sometimes. Especially because:

  • Most of the time, what makes business class worth it is the promise of quiet solitude on a long flight. Babies (and sometimes the parents) don’t give a s*** about your quiet solitude.
  • Business class is expensive, and it can sometimes feel like you’ve wasted your money if there’s a crying baby in the cabin.
  • Sometimes my sole reason for choosing business class is because I know that I’ll need to catch up on sleep (since I won’t be able to do it once I reach my destination). If there’s a crying baby near me, there is zero chance of me getting any quality sleep. I’m basically going to be a complete wreck the next day.
  • Parents of crying babies who have absolutely zero consideration for everyone else in business class tick me right the heck off. For example, on my Thai Airways business class flight from Sydney to Bangkok a few years ago, there were parents of a crying baby who did nothing but walk up and down the aisle for the entire flight with it. There was no way for anyone to avoid the noise.
Thai airways 747 upper deck business class
I was fairly confident that the upper deck of this Thai Airways 747-400 would be the quietest way to fly from Sydney to Bangkok, but the crying baby two rows ahead of me proved me wrong. God bless the person over there in row 2 (by the window) who used champagne to help drown out the noise.

All the reasons why a crying baby in business class should not upset you

I can imagine there are quite a lot of you reading this who think of SANspotter as a horrible human being right about now. But before you get too annoyed with me, know that I actually feel a lot of sympathy for parents who travel with very young children. I’ve never done it, but I appreciate how stressful it must be.

Xiamen Airlines 737-800 business class passengers
Not all “business class and babies” experiences are bad! The parents of the baby seated here in the bulkhead row of Xiamen Airlines 737-800 business class from Xiamen to Chengdu were amazing. I really wanted to high-five them after the flight for being so courteous to the other passengers, but not fully knowing what that gesture means in other cultures, I passed on it (and probably saved myself from an embarrassing international incident).

Here is why I feel guilty sometimes about being upset by a baby in business class who refuses to stay silent:

  • Can you imagine how difficult it would be to care for a lap child on a long haul international flight an economy class? I can barely survive with just my backpack, so I totally get why a larger business class seat would make things easier.
  • Most of the time, I get the sense that the parents of the crying baby are feeling just as annoyed as I am. I think there are very few people in this world who would gleefully volunteer to hold a crying baby for 13 hours.
  • Chances are the baby is crying because it’s scared or uncomfortable (or both). Have some sympathy!
  • Feeling upset by a crying baby ruining your business class experience is about as extreme as first world problems get. Seriously, in the grand scheme of things, there are far more important things to be upset about.
SANspotter in business class
A visual representation of how insignificant a crying baby ruining a premium air travel experience really is.

Tips for dealing with crying babies in business class (as an annoyed passenger)

If you fly business class often enough, a crying baby annoying you all the way to your destination is inevitable. It’s just part of the travel experience, and short of airlines banning babies in business class completely, there’s no way of stopping it. Here are some ways I’ve found to help minimize the frustration:

  • Always bring a good pair of noise canceling headphones with you! Although it won’t block 100% of the crying and screaming, a good pair of headphones (and some ambient background music) will drown out 90% of it. AirPods Pro work great on an airplane by the way. I never travel without mine.
  • Avoid sitting near the front or the rear of the business class cabin. The bulkhead row is often reserved for parents who need a bassinet. The rear of the business class cabin isn’t good either, since you’ll be very close to the bulkhead row in economy class (which, again, is reserved for parents who need a bassinet for their baby).
  • Flying mid-week is usually better, since it’ll be mostly business travelers in the premium cabins.
  • Being a good samaritan and offering to help the parents of the crying baby won’t reduce the noise, but it will make you feel good about being a decent human being.
Qatar Airways business class amenity kit
FYI, if the business class product you’re flying is worth a snot, they will provide ear plugs in the amenity kit. I had to dig for them in this particular Qatar Airways business class amenity kit, but they were there. It’s almost too bad there were no babies in the cabin to give me the chance to put them to the test…

How I really feel about it

Being stuck in a business class seat near a crying baby used to annoy me a lot more than it does now. As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned what real pain and suffering is, and ultimately, listening to a crying baby for a few hours is pretty far down on that list.

Yes, I may feel a little annoyed at times. However, with noise cancelling headphone technology as good as it is (and it keeps getting better), it’s become far less of a problem.

Not only that, I realize that I was an annoying little baby at one point in time as well. Come to think of it, I still might be. Anyway, the bottom line is that it would be hypocritical of me to be mad about something that I not only used to do myself, but is completely natural and impossible to prevent.

Comments (3)

  1. David C

    June 5, 2022
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      June 6, 2022
      • David C

        June 12, 2022

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