Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

Crying Baby Removed From Premium Class Cabin: Justified or Not?

I n the latest saga pertaining to the ongoing debate of whether or not children and babies should be permitted in the premium class cabin aboard an airplane, a member of the flight crew asked a husband and wife to move to the economy class cabin of the aircraft because their daughter was screaming and crying prior to departure for a flight operated by Delta Air Lines from New York to Los Angeles on Thursday, December 29, 2016.

Crying Baby Removed From Premium Class Cabin: Justified or Not?

Ruby — who will be ten months old on January 11, 2017 — “was so overwhelmed she couldn’t fall asleep”, according to this account which was posted by her mother Arielle Noa Charnas at her Instagram account; and some of the comments were rather brutal:

In case the link to the Instagram message is broken, here is the text from that message:

On our way to LA a few days ago 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 – 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. I don’t know what’s right and wrong when it comes to flying with a baby but after telling a few people the story they were in shock. Thoughts? We’re headed back to NYC today and we’re hoping for a much better experience.

Children in the Premium Class Cabin: Why The Debate Continues

There are basically two schools of thought of which the debate is comprised: those who believe that babies and children should have just as much of a right as adults to be aboard an airplane in any class of cabin; and those who paid extra to enjoy an experience which is supposed to be superior to that of the economy class cabin…

…and there are those who believe that passengers seated in the economy class cabin should not be subjected to the screaming and crying of a child — or a disruptive adult, for that matter — regardless of the cause or reason.

After all, there are countless times where many children behave better than certain self-important adults who for some reason keep asking people if they know who they are; than these people who fought over seat recline; or this man who pushed a debate over boarding protocol too far to the point where he was arrested; or people who defecate in hotel pools solely for fun.

If a person pays extra for the privilege in flying as a passenger seated in the premium economy cabin, is part of that experience not having to deal with the cries and screams of a baby — even if the parents pay for that experience? If the parents are indeed removed from the premium class cabin due to a child who is screaming or crying, should they receive a refund in the form of a difference between the fares of the premium cabin and the economy cabin?

If parents are unable, unwilling or too ignorant to ensure that their precious offspring cannot behave in a reasonable manner when in public — to the point that that child is extremely disruptive in the economy class cabin throughout the entire duration of a transatlantic flight, as I recalled in this article — then perhaps they should not be permitted to fly as passengers; but of course, that is not a viable solution.

Are There Any Viable Solutions?

The easy answer is that any passenger who is disruptive should be removed from the airplane; but is that premise fair to parents with an unhappy baby or infant who screams or cries for a legitimate reason — especially parents who do everything the possibly can to mitigate or eliminate any reason for a baby to scream or cry?

There are also people who wonder if children should travel at all because of uncomfortable or unnatural experiences which are unfamiliar to the child — such as adjustments in air pressure can be quite painful in the ear of a child who does not yet know how to equalize that difference in pressure, for example…

…but in a society where familial relations can reside thousands of miles away, how else can a child be with relatives as often as possible — especially if some of those relatives are unable to travel to be with the child?

Similarly with adults, I believe solutions to the issues pertaining to babies and children cannot be classified as “one size fits all.” Different children will react differently in similar environments; and it is up to the parents to ascertain what is best for their children…

…but we live in an imperfect world where unpleasant experiences can happen even when being as prepared as possible; and even when attempting to create a controlled environment — especially aboard a relatively confined space for hours at a time with no way to exit it until reaching the destination of the airplane.

There has even been discussion of child-free zones to be implemented aboard airplanes — as well as flights free of children altogether; five tips on traveling by airplane with a baby or young child; and seven tips for changing diapers while traveling — all covered in this article which I wrote on Friday, August 14, 2015.

Giving medication to a baby or infant for the sole purpose of ensuring that they sleep throughout the entire flight is an option of last resort and should not be considered unless absolutely necessary — but that is simply my opinion.


In an ideal world, all parents would do everything they can to prepare their babies or infant children for being passengers on a flight; and if that child is not ready for the flight, then the family would think twice about being passengers on an airplane.

As I have written in this article which addressed this issue in general, “I do not expect children to be prim and proper at all times. They are children. They want to play. They need interaction. They are curious about new things, new people, new experiences. In fact, I encourage the idea of children traveling. To me, travel is the best learning experience, with the world as the best classroom to be found.”

Additionally, children — especially babies and infants — also need to eat, sleep and have their diapers changed when soiled.

With all of the aforementioned points mentioned throughout this article in mind — and it is by no means an exhaustive list — I cannot definitively comment specifically on the situation experienced by Arielle Noa Charnas on whether or not the member of the flight crew was justified in the removal of her family from the premium class cabin, as I have no idea why Ruby “was so overwhelmed that she couldn’t fall asleep”, which I believe is a key part of the question.

There are too many questions which need to be answered — and too many facts missing — before anyone can properly respond to the solicitation of thoughts by Arielle Noa Charnas pertaining to her experience: for example, were the factors which contributed to the “overwhelming” of Ruby the fault of the parents; the result of unforeseen circumstances — or a combination thereof? Was the general personality of Ruby conducive to being a passenger aboard an airplane — for example, does she cry and scream more than other infants her age? As this was the first time Ruby was a passenger on a flight, was she ready for the experience?

Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

  1. Of course no one wants to listen to a crying baby on a long flight, but what are the parents supposed to do? Sometimes it just can’t be helped. I don’t think any airline guarantees you an absence of crying babies in business/first. If people think that’s part of the experience they’re paying for, then they’re mistaken. If you want a guarantee you won’t have to put up with screaming babies then fly in a private jet. You don’t own the plane. The parents have to get to their destination just like you, and there is no other alternative.

  2. Expect to see a lot more cases like this (what can be described as “Empathy Gap”) after this election cycle where the winning message was that “all that matters is me”.

    I would imagine that many of the people complaining were at one point in time in those same shoes, with their own babies and toddlers (I can remember my own), but since it doesn’t affect (or it hasn’t yet affected) them, why bother, just like with healthcare, mass shootings, etc.

  3. Either the airlines impose rules that babies and young children are not allowed on premium cabins or they stop this BS of removing them from the cabins if they cry. Maybe they should do the same when you fly a lap infant on an international flight where you have to notify the airline you have a lap infant. If the airline accepts it they have no right to remove the baby. On international flights you pay 10% of a full fare on the class you fly with a lap infant. When they take your money they have no right to remove the baby even if he cries the entire trip.

  4. This issue would be so rare as to be irrelevant if these selfish parents would delay travel until their child is old enough to behave themselves. 99% of such travel is unnecessary and completely duscretionary. You deserve all the eye rolls and nasty looks, because you decided that your needs were more important than everyone elses. If an adult is screaming and crying, then they would be removed. It should be no different with children.

    1. Bravo~! Thank you.
      This “new world” where children are allowed to raise as much ruckus as they want is NOT a good world. Not even for the child.
      Not a shred of self discipline is taught anymore. Even small babies can be controlled.. I know I had 4 of them. Gently but firmly… it works, how do you think native Americans taught their babies not to cry? By abusing them? Of course not.

      Air tickets are not cheap and I do not believe that anyone should PAY to listen to a horrid screaming child… whose parent shows NO respect for others.
      REMOVE them…. do it enough and the parent will figure out the methods to teach the child NOT to scream.

    2. You do know that sometimes people have no choice but to fly with tiny children, right? And that even the most expertly patented babies can have meltdowns – often for no reason, right? Do you know the physiological and psychological reasons why babies cry? Have you ever had children of your own? Never mind, I think I know the answer to these questions. It’s OK to be ignorant, because that’s human. But to be proud of it is pretty disgusting. Or it could just be that you’re a jerk.

    3. Some obvious Idiots posting their 2 pence worth. Babies cry it happens and they dont enjoy it themselves! . I am guessing those complainers neber ever flew as babies and never cried ever if they did fly. If you are that important and cannot stomach a crying baby go on a private jet and travel solo or just book out the entire section, done on a recent flight where one passenger booked the entire first class cabin for privacy. If your too poor for those options, shut up and get down of your high horse and put up. Your no more important than any other passenger apart from in your own eyes!

  5. “I’m totally disgusted with my recent F flight to LA when a pax had a heart attack and there was terribly annoying hubbub in the cabin by all the folks trying to rescue her. It was very disturbing to me.”

    I’m referring to the Carrie Fisher incident and I wasn’t really on the plane. But I couldn’t help thinking of it in this context. There are some situations that are not controllable by humans. We fellow travelers need to realize this and try a little empathy. As long as there are reasonable attempts underway to resolve the situation, I’d suggest chilling out when there’s no magic wand.

    In other situations where there are jerk parents not tending to “princess” or “snowflake”, all bets are off. The difference is in the effort of the parents in mitigating the situation. And that’s like defining porn: you know it when you see it.

    Guess I’ve been reading too much @MommyPoints these days. I’m starting to mellow. 😉

  6. Maybe premium seats need to offer noise canceling headphones. Obviously doesn’t solve the problem entirely, but might help the most irritated pax get through the moment. Or maybe sensitive pax should be advised to carry them on flights.

    1. Or maybe paresnts should show some basic common sense and not drag their screaming brats on a flight until they are old enough to behave?

  7. Stay at home with your brat until it’s old enough to fly without making everyone else miserable. If it were an adult making such a commotion they’d be kicked off the flight.

  8. Obviously, this is a highly charged emotional topic.

    On one hand you’ll have the parents who bring their perfect little angel child, and if adorable little snookums cries just the teeniest bit, well that’s just babies expressing themselves. Surely it’s better than adults acting like idiots. Just look at those overgrown frat boys acting so shamefully on the other side of the plane as a perfect example. We paid for our tickets, so just deal with a baby being a baby.

    The counter argument, of course is that people should never bring their little demon spawn near an airplane, let alone first class. Little Damien is obliterating any vestiges of peace and tranquility for anyone in the entire area code. What’s the purpose of spending ungodly amounts of money to fly first class when the horrible child that doesn’t even belong here simply will not stop screeching like a banshee, making everyone miserable?

    In 2015, my wife and I were flying ICN-ATL, a very long flight. We were fortunate enough to fly business class. In the cabin with us was a wealthy Hispanic woman with three kids, aged about 8 down to infant. Well, the infant was frequently unhappy, and let you know so in no uncertain terms. It drove the rest of the cabin bonkers, which was exacerbated by the fact that the mother just seemed oblivious. That left the flight attendants to try to quiet the frequently bawling child.

    Incidents like the one my wife and I experienced are the reason that I certainly feel that children under the age of about 4 should not be permitted in premium cabins. The counterpoint about ill behaved adults has very limited comparative value because you can be pretty sure that 1 year old will scream on a flight, but it’s much less certain that a given set of adults will act like idiots. Most parents will try to quiet the crying child, but some simply will not, and there’s enough of those for me to say that small children should only be flying in economy.

  9. One of the worst flights I’ve been on had 2 and a half year old quads travelling in business with their solo father. Three of the four children were distributed around the cabin sitting next to complete strangers. The flight was particularly turbulent so everyone was strapped in for several hours. Two and a half year olds don’t want to sit anywhere for several hours, the father couldn’t attend them so it was left to those sitting next to the children to do their best to manage/comfort them. What a nightmare! A 9 hour flight felt like 9 weeks and everyone was well and truly frazzled by the time we landed. I don’t know what the answer is – perhaps a section/rows for people travelling with little ones? A defined ratio of adults per child? Of course placement is only part of this complex issue.

  10. Air Asia X has something called the Quiet Zone which are for individuals over the age of 10 and above. The idea of ‘quiet’ zone is great IMO as it also covers hyperactive-playful children over the age of 10.

    I personally would pay the extra to fly premium for the fast tracks, quicker boardings and essentially for a better peace of mind.

    In the event of young children sitting near me (in Biz) would instantly give me the freaks (not ethically correct to feel this way) but you know what some cases they can be better behaved than adults as many have pointed out.

  11. Don’t travel with your babies – Period. You chosed to have babies, live with the consequences and stay home for until they can walk onto the plane and buckle up themselves. Having kids puts constraints on how you can live your life. Deal with it – don’t project your own poor judgment on other people.

    1. @Hasse – Haha! Yes, in 2017, people with children (the vast majority of Americans) should not be permitted to travel until their kids reach the age of 4 or 5.

      So says someone who’s never had a kid and judges other for having them. You don’t get to live in a child-free world just because you chose not to have one. Just like I don’t get to live in a Trump-free America.

  12. The bottom line is unless the airline has a rule banning babies in premium cabins there isn’t a darn thing you can do about it other than just get over yourself and move on.

  13. The challenge goes well beyond a crying infant. What about the six year old that is permitted to run wild, or the eight year old that runs the household because so many modern day parents have no concept what parenting is all about. Instead they permit society and the school systems to raise their children for them.

  14. Absolutely ban crying kids from the front of the plane! Even better if all babies are restricted to flying at least until 5 years old. If I’m paying for the premium cabin i expect it to be an oasis from all the cacophony of regular travel/coach. Too often we don’t say anything to the crying babies’ parents for fear of being non PC. However it’s about the comfort of ALL other passengers and having 1 or 2 crying babies ruin it for the majority. I’ve seen parents just let their babies cry non stop for the duration of a 10 hour flight and that is painful, painful to see the lack of consideration and for our ears. Not only are we dealing with the stress of flying but to put up with their crying and screaming just adds to the discomfort. I don’t know why parents don’t give their babies Nyquil or something to make them drowsy but instead subject the rest of us to torture. It seems parents with kids over rides everyone else’s rights coz “weren’t you a baby before”? as was screamed at me once by a mother when I tried to shush a screeching baby. I shudder to think of how this baby will turn out to be…obviously entitled like a lot of kids these days…a sorry state for sure.

  15. I have kids grown, but when they were babies sometimes they got on my nerves i.e. crying. If my kids got on my nerves surely someone else’s would too. If trapped in a premium class cabin seat [what ever that is, is that first class seating or fancy coach?] it could be annoying. Some kids scream-cry and that can put the calmest of us into orbit. Historically scream-cry babies ARE removed from the immediate area by the mother if within a congregation of people either indoors or out of doors. In this instant their should be some sort of reimbursement to the passenger [mother] and she and the infant should have been removed from the area, but where to, the baggage compartment? I’m going with historical etiquette – justified.

  16. That’s the clickbait “I WANT ATTENTION!” version of the story. What REALLY happened?

    In many such cases where people claimed “discrimination”, it turned out they were the ones in the wrong. Two prime examples are the recent “arabic numbers” thing where the man was intentionally trying to cause a scene and got arrested, and a few years ago kids from a jewish school in New York claimed “anti-semitism” after being thrown of a plane…for refusing to turn off their phones, refusing to put on their seat belts, and refusing to shut up while the flight crew went through the safety procedures.

    I want to know the real story, not the phony outrage.

  17. Heck yes it is justified! I am sick of parents bringing their infants on planes to begin with, you overly selfish people! I just got off a flight where the baby cried for four hours. It is ridiculous that you parents think that your baby is more important than the well-being of the other 300 passengers on board. In my situation the infant in question was sitting in business class, and no one did anything, and the parents did nothing and the flight crew did nothing. It is absurd! Frankly not only should children not be allowed to sit in premium class, they simply should not be allowed to fly! There is no reason unless you are moving cities or moving internationally that you should subject your child to a flight. Unless the child is over 5 years old and well-behaved and the parents take full responsibility for that child’s behavior onboard. I once had a kid kicking my chair for 2 hours while the mother slept, attempts to wake her up were futile and the crew did nothing as the flight was full. This is unfair and unjust. I say the airline had every right to kick the entire family out of premium class. Thank God some airlines are waking up!

    1. Indeed totally agree, just got off an 8 hour flight that was totally stressful. Toddler sat in front of me, and screamed and shouted all the way. I know parents have to travel with kids, I know kids cry, but hell no, not for the total duration. And before I’m criticized for thinking I’m a cut above, I saved hard for this ticket, so my flight would be relaxing. There should be a child friendly section on a plane. That would surely keep everyone happy.

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