But how about when adults are the biggest babies in the lounge?
For as long as airlines have dished out perks to frequent flyers, there’s been draconian red tape to go along with them. From mile long rulebooks on when you can upgrade to when someone can join you for a toast in a cosy airport lounge, it’s hardly ever been intuitive or easy to follow. For those with families, it’s always been worse.
Most airline loyalty programs allow one guest into airport lounges, which quite often means choosing between a comfortable and relaxing pre flight environment alone, or a happy family.
If you ask many lounge dwellers, they’re thrilled that these lounge dragon policies largely keep family groups out of their coveted freebie filled booze dens, but to make frequent flyer perks appeal not only to the frequent flyer, but everyone in the family – some airlines are instituting rule exceptions so that everyone can benefit when traveling together.
Kids in lounges – yay, or nay?
In recent months, airlines have created exemptions to the strict “1 guest” rules, for those traveling in family groups. They’ve tended to run these trials during high leisure periods when families are more likely to travel and more of the typical lounge clientele are off the road. The move effectively allows a frequent traveller to guest their entire family in, provided the kids are under 18 and accompanied by at least one adult, completely usurping the 1 guest allowance.
For those who get little joy from their perks while traveling solo, it’s amazing to have their hard work translate into benefits which make family travel far more manageable and enjoyable for all. Being able to grab a quick bite, recharge and relax is huge for anyone, and when travelling with young children, one can only imagine it’s doubly as nice.
At the same time, for those used to clean and quiet environments, turning a refined lounge into a theme park may not be ideal.
More airlines are moving to guest limit exceptions for families trying to enter airport lounges. Kids in airport lounges – yay, or nay?
— Gilbert Ott | GSTP ✈️🌴🌏 (@godsavethepoint) July 18, 2019
As far as I’m concerned, I have no problem with it, at all. I think kids under 18 should always be allowed in with their families, not just on special occasions. I wear noise cancelling headphones, which tend to drown out even the worst little demons in the air, or on the ground. Food anywhere out of an airport tends to always be better than anything found in one, so I rarely linger for long in any lounge anyway. I spend enough time in the airport to never want to be in one longer than I have to.
Ultimately, it’s all up to how parents discipline their children, and whether they take responsibility for their guests. This is a crucial distinction. If a frequent traveler uses their ‘one guest’ privilege to bring in an adult who disrespects the place, causes a fuss or… vomits from inebriation, you better bet it will be taken up with the frequent flyer. Parents should be held to the same standard.
I actually think all lounge guests should have a file, or strike count, not just kids. Three strikes, you’re out…
I hate the DYKWIA lego men with baggy jeans, oversized company logo polo shirt on speakerphone yelling at someone down the other end while guzzling Jack Daniels far more more than I could ever hate any human not old enough to fly unaccompanied. If someone of any age is found abhorrent or abusive of the rules on multiple occasions, perhaps a ban would do some good?
I actually think this is why Cathay Pacific had the foresight to introduce lounge etiquette. If you haven’t read it, do the world a favour and please do – especially if you’re one of those that listens to music or makes calls that others can hear.
The bigger question comes down to capacity and use of space. Most people with high tiered elite frequent flyer status rarely fly with their entire families, so it’s not as if a sea of total chaos would be created overnight by any means. As airlines rethink these often mundane spaces, greater attention is being paid to wellness, kids facilities and sectioning off spaces to create unique nooks, rather than massive college study dorm rooms.
Would this create more passengers in a lounge overall? Of course it would. If a lounge was already marginally brimming at capacity, a more relaxed guest policy could tip the scales entirely and make the terminal the more civilised place to pass time, which defeats the whole point.
What do you do then?
Some would say the best solution is to create new series of lounges within lounges, where certain spaces are reserved exclusively for guests flying in premium cabins, while those who enjoy lounge access via their loyalty program would be ushered into a different space. Others say dedicate more space to bigger lounges and nothing else matters. There’s even the idea of creating dedicated family only lounge spaces. No one likes overcrowding.
As airlines look to make their benefits more useful, relatable and progressive it will be fascinating to see if these trial initiatives become common place and if traveling families are welcomed with open arms, regardless of size. I think they should, but the internet tends not to agree…