This discussion was launched one week ago by FlyerTalk member Flygirlnz is in the form of a public letter which epitomizes the sentiment of those who believe children should not be allowed access into lounges:
Dear Parents of Small Children in the Nadi Lounge…
I get that your kids are tired and sunburnt and grotty, even though it’s only midday, and that they have been running rampant around hotel swimming pools for the past week.
I get that you have as much right to the lounge as the rest of us, and that your children do, too. I also get that this is a holiday destination for most Kiwis, and a business trip for only a handful of us.
But seriously, is this really the place for the yelling, the screaming, the crawling on the floor, the whinging, the crying and the tantrums? And what are they learning about their respect for other people, consideration, and appropriate behaviour in different settings?
I know I’m going to sound like a grumpy old woman here, and maybe I am: but airline lounges for my kids, were a privilege, not a right, and a place that our children respected as such. I can’t even count the number of hours I sat outside the door of the lounge with my feisty daughter, from her toddler years up. It wasn’t fun for her, and it sure as hell wasn’t fun for me. But they grew up in a world where we thought about other people and their needs in public spaces.
Oh, and before we start on the ‘drunk adults are noisier and more disruptive than kids’ argument, I don’t see a single drunk or obnoxious person here. Just a bunch of weary, frustrated and pissed off people struggling to read, work, think or just relax.
I was recently in the Bangkok lounge and there were 3 young children, apparently from more than one family. The parents seem to have left them to roam free, and at one point they were using all 3 of the computers – and making a lot of noise.
I asked the staff to do something, but all they did was help the children use the computers!! We eventually moved to another part of the lounge.
My understanding has always been that children are allowed in the lounges on the basis that they are well-behaved and reasonably quiet. After all, it is a business lounge and not a children‘s playroom.
Am I being grumpy and unreasonable about this?
Thoughts About Children in Lounges
The primary purpose of a lounge — whether located in a hotel or airport — is to give guests with appropriate access privileges a place to relax and be comfortable while passing the time. That can include expensive furniture; office supplies to complete work; food to alleviate hunger; a shower to get refreshed; computers to use; and a space with recliners designated especially for quiet so that guests can get some sleep.
A rambunctious child who is allowed to run around the lounge unfettered can typically cause a significant disruption in the purpose of the lounge by disturbing guests while simultaneously creating extra work for employees whose job is to maintain the atmosphere and ambiance in keeping the lounge peaceful and relaxing.
When a child is aboard an airplane, parents usually have paid for his or her ticket — unless the child is younger than the age of two, as many airlines permit the child to be transported free of charge. The airplane is a mode of transportation to get a family from one place to another; and there is limited space aboard that airplane to isolate children who are disruptive so as not to annoy or irritate fellow passengers. There is also nowhere else to go while the airplane is hurtling through the air at 550 miles per hour 35,000 feet above the middle of an ocean.
Especially with regard to transoceanic transportation, airplane flights are often the only option for a family with children. When compared to alternative modes of transportation, airplanes are often the quickest — and sometimes the most economic choice. Air travel can be a necessity for families with children.
Lounges are not necessities for children. They are always static and on the ground with an exit; and there are usually other places to go if children become out of control or if parents decline to take responsibility for their behavior. If parents paid for their children to have access to lounges but their children act up to the point where they disrupt fellow guests, do the same rules apply as in other venues such as restaurants or stores?
I have been to many lounges where the children have behaved well. A lounge is a good place for a child to learn how to be civil and respect the peace and quiet of others; to mind their manners; and to hone their social skills when out in public…
…but a lounge is no place for unruly people — whether they are children or adults. A inebriated adult can be every bit as annoying as a child with no regard for other people — and keeping them in a lounge is unfair to other people who paid for the privilege of being in the lounge. As annual membership rates for lounge access have increased — typically in the hundreds of dollars — having the experienced ruined by any person who misbehaves reduces or eliminates the value of the lounge experience.
If room is available, perhaps there could be a small area of a lounge set aside for children who want to play — something which would be far more difficult to achieve aboard an airplane…
…or perhaps airlines can create a new marketing opportunity with an entirely new lounge experience designed exclusively for families with children — complete with food, toys and games considered to be child-friendly — if there is enough demand to warrant the cost of building physical lounges for this purpose.