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Malaysia Airlines defends its first-class baby ban -- and many of you agree

Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger

Tengku Azmil has been engaging in a lot of baby talk lately. And so have more than 600 readers of this blog, but more on that later. 

The Malaysia Airlines chief executive, whom you can find on Twitter as @tengkuazmil, has been bombarded with questions in the Twitter-sphere this week about the pros and cons of the airline’s policy of banning infants from first-class cabins.

“We already hand out noise canx headphones in 1st class. They don’t work so well for babies crying,” he tweeted in response to an inquiry. To another: “It’s only 1st class tho.”

To be clear: The airline won’t let infants travel first class, whether on passengers’ laps or in seats of their own. Infants are, however, allowed in the business and economy classes. It’s been that way for several years, I learned from one of Azmil’s tweets, so he’s been doing a lot of explaining over the years.

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When I wrote about the airline’s baby ban this week, I asked readers to weigh in. In the highly unscientific online poll, Azmil appears to have fans: 289 said yes, airlines should ban babies in first-class cabins; 122 said no; and 204 said “ban them in all classes.” Ouch. 

Malaysia Airlines defended its stance in this online statement Wednesday from the director of operations, who explained why the policy came about. It  has to do with eliminating bassinets in favor of ottomans for first-class travelers, though Azmil’s tweets suggest that it’s more about crying babies.

The issue became a hot topic after an Australian Business Traveller article Tuesday confirmed with Azmil (yes, via tweets) that the first-class infant ban, which applies to the airline’s current 747s, would carry over to its Airbus A380s when they come into service next year.


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