Children on stage in elementary school
Photograph ©2010 by Brian Cohen.

Should Children Be Allowed Access Into Lounges?

I n probably one of the most succinct articles I have ever seen, “No” is the answer offered by Alexander Bachuwa of The Points Of Life, which prompted not only comments by readers; but also this rebuttal by Dan Miller of Points with a Crew for obvious reasons.

Should Children Be Allowed Access Into Lounges?

Hilton Nairobi
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

In a recent 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 from the premium class cabin to the economy class cabin of the aircraft because their daughter — who “was so overwhelmed she couldn’t fall asleep” — 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.

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.

Boarding now – thank God.

FlyerTalk member Gweilo had a similar experience in a different lounge located at Bangkok International Airport from almost two years ago:

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

Hilton Sharjah
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

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?


Grand Hilton Seoul
Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

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.

Unruly child aboard airplane
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

I know one thing is for certain: I would not want to be caught in a lounge anywhere near this problem child and his family, as I had the misfortune of being a fellow passenger of theirs on a transatlantic flight

Photograph used with permission.

  1. As the parent of three kids now 17, 14, 8, I completely agree that if kids are misbehaving (screaming, running, unattended, etc) they should not be able to stay in the lounge. If an adult was behaving that way, they’d be thrown out or the cops called. Lounge staff perhaps need training in how to manage such situations. When we were in lounges when the kids were younger, I never relaxed bc I was so worried about them being disruptive. They weren’t, but that’s partially bc I was all over them about the privilege and the rules. I don’t think kids should not be allowed in lounges but they should be asked to leave if behaving inappropriately.

    1. Due to the lack of parenting these days, there’s no guarantee that these entitled parents will take their kids out of the lounge? I say ban all kids and lounges should be 18 or 21 and older.

  2. I always consider other passengers first. I have two children (5 and 8) and make sure they are well-behaved. Running, yelling and crawling should not be tolerated for too long. However, adults yelling on their cell phones fall in the same category. Any behavior that disrupts the comfort of others should be first warned politely.Then, lounge representatives should take the next step.

  3. It’s more of problem with the parents than the kids. In most cases, kids behave the way their parents let them. So many people are entitled and just don’t care how their actions affect other people nowadays. There will always be the occasional tantrum from a kid (because they’re a kid, not a mini adult), but beyond that it is the parents thinking they have free babysitting or that they can let their kids run wild because it is a “safe” environment. No and no.

    If I’m in a lounge and my kid is misbehaving, he’ll be the one doing push-ups.

  4. The presumption should be that all people are allowed into a lounge including children particularly during the day. How they behave once there should determine whether they are allowed to remain – and that includes parents proactively parenting their children.

    1. This is it. If people (children included) are misbehaving and not heeding the word of the lounge attendants to change their behavior, they should be asked, and then forced, to leave. I mostly blame the parents, but also lay some blame at the feet of lounge attendants who are too afraid, indifferent, or otherwise uninterested in enforcing lounge rules.

  5. The better lounges have kid rooms or play rooms also. I love the one Etihad has in AUH as it also has a nanny so the parents can go grab some food without having to worry about the kids for a few minutes (it’s not intended as a baby sitter). The mowbray lounge in MTB has a nice kids section also (downstairs). Some airports AMS/DOH/PRG for example also have nice indoor play grounds. Ams just put in a kids science section (as part of the excellent NEMO museum) where you can do some small science experiments with the kids, it’s in the non schengen section.

    I’m not against well behaved kids in the lounge, but as a parent of a 5 and 3 year old I also recognize that they need some time to burn off the energy after or before a long flight. So as long as I have a 1-2 hour layover I’ll first hit up the playground then go to the lounge for food/drinks. Otherwise it should not be a surprise they want to run around. Same arguments as the kids in Premium seats on the plane. It’s the parents responsibility to keep them in line or I agree the lounge staff should first warn them but then kick them out if they don’t behave.

    But YES kids should be allowed everywhere their parents are allowed as they didn’t earn that privilege their parents paid for it!

  6. Unfortunately, some people are not considerate of others. They will always find a way to annoy you, whether traveling solo or traveling with kids in tow.

    1. That’s wrong, and I don’t mind saying so in those terms. My kids have been in lounges with me and my wife several times and have not caused a disturbance. If they were interested in watching a movie, we’ve gone so far as to sitting in the seats in the check-in area/lobby so as not to disturb other guests. Otherwise, we keep them in check. They want to make some noise? We go outside.

  7. Disruptive children should be removed the same as any disruptive guest. Thankfully, disruptive children have been a rare occasion in my lounge visits in contrast with disruptive electronics from adults– increasingly common in DFW Centurion Lounge to find obnoxious adults blaring their devices — TV, music, facetime– without headphones or common courtesy to those around them. Is that as bad as a screaming kid, no, but far more common in my experience.

  8. If we start rounding up these delinquents, the new regime may be happy to transport them to Australia. Probably need an exemption for emotional support children, though.

  9. Simple answer. No. Airline Lounges are meant for frequent flyers. . . Business travelers. . . Not families taking advantage of perks and disturbing work environment. Unless your disruptive infant child is flying 150 plus segments a year, then I shouldn’t have to put up with his/her annoying sentiment. I already have to listen to the annoying 40+ year old whining. . Hmmmmmm

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