*In recent days, Kirstie Allsopp, a British TV presenter has been ridiculed in the press for a revelation that her children fly economy, while she flies business. Similar comments have been made by Gordon Ramsay, and to criticize either seems ludicrous.*

Give it a rest, just not in business class…

Kirstie Allsopp, Gordon Ramsay and anyone else who chooses to have their self sufficient, of age children fly in economy are not in the wrong at all. Period. Full stop. End of discussion. As a full time travel blogger, I spend more time in business and first class in a month than most people do in their lifetimes, but it wasn’t always that way – and I’m damn glad it wasn’t. I’ve got absolutely nothing against parents choosing to have their kids fly business class too, and at some ages it would actually be awful not to – but you can’t lambast people for instilling hard work or being smart with their money.

a seat in a planeMoney Talks

Since money talks, lets start with that. Most international business class tickets run $3000. For two people, that’s an extortionate amount of money, but for four, it’s just crazy. This is especially true when you consider that with the rise of budget airlines and rabid competition, an economy ticket would allow you to drop a zero. Yep, on the same flight Gordon or Kirstie may be paying $3,000 for themselves, $300 could take care of one of their children. It’s not hard to figure how that $2,700 in savings could positively impact their trip, or their lives. And let’s be real – unless their kids are the next Dirk Nowitzki or Kerri Jennings, space isn’t a big issue at 13 years old.

The Drive

I’ll cut through the red tape. I grew up in a middle/upper class family. I never flew business class as a kid, nor did I get a flashy car at 16 – and yes I have a chip on my shoulder, because many of my friends did. I got a bike and encouragement for a summer job, and that was no surprise at all. The success of my parents was never portrayed as my success, or something that would enable me – and for me personally, and not necessarily anyone else – it’s the reason I work hard to this day. I work seven days a week, 360 days a year. I’d like to think that had I been given those things I would be as hard working as I am today, but I can’t guarantee that, nor could anyone else, so I see nothing wrong with erring on the side of caution.

a bed with pillows and a purse on itInspiration

Walking through the business and first cabins, and even past premium economy gave me a desire to work harder, develop skills and find a way to one day reach these cabins. That increased when I met my wife, and had a deeper desire to provide for someone other than myself. Had these cabins been handed to me as a child, I can’t say I would’ve learned the ins and outs of loyalty programs, studied airlines or honed my skills to run a large travel site. But that’s all crap. Any kid can study. Not many who are handed the silver spoon choose to work three jobs, seven days a week to give the dream career a chance. I did, and it paid off – and yeah, I am proud of myself. Who wouldn’t be?

Go Your Own Way

Now lets be clear – I’m not at all against parents flying their kids in business class if they can. At some ages, it would be borderline cruel or completely against the rules to separate a young child from parents. A cabin crew member certainly isn’t going to change diapers. And ultimately, the character of a child should not boil down to a few hours a year in the air. It’s the day in day out morals, ethics and work drive instilled by the parents. I know people who fly first class, not even business class with their kids and the children are exemplary citizens with admirable drive. I just personally think Kirstie Allsopp and Gordon Ramsay have the right idea and think criticizing them for being practical, while possibly instilling a desire for hard work is true madness. Just because Mommy or Daddy worked their tail off and get to enjoy a level of comfort certainly doesn’t mean you should. After all – if you’re on a plane, you’re going somewhere and that’s a gift in itself. Many kids never get to travel, let alone experience air travel.

What’s your take?

Featured image courtesy of Air New Zealand. 

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. For me vacations are times for me to spend with my kids and share experiences, so separating myself from them doesn’t make sense. We all fly together, whether it’s coach or biz.

  2. Book the kids on a separate booking and send them as UMs. Check them in and wave them off, then toddle off to the lounge guilt free. Collect them at the other end drunk on champagne (you, not the kids – they don’t do champagne in economy, do they?). I once sat in Club World with a group of 4 tweenagers who just messed around the whole time. The noise was annoying at best. Their parents never stepped in. At least in economy no one can sleep anyway, so they aren’t keeping anyone awake.

  3. I think that there’s a couple of points here. The one addressed is the entitlement aspect. Back in my travel agent days, our Miami based agency had several wealthy Latin clients. One of them consistently flew first class with his wife, while their daughter flew economy. Our agency owner once asked why, since money was obviously no object. The man replied that if he flew his daughter first class, then what could a husband offer her that she didn’t already have? An interesting thought that has stuck with me through the years.
    Another aspect to consider is behavior. Partially, this is a factor of age, but a lot is parental attitude. If children are unable to comport themselves properly, they should never be allowed in a premium cabin. This may seem harsh, but people pay very large sums of money and/or points to avoid screeching, ill behaved children in the next seat.
    While these issues are completely separate, I feel that each is individually valid as a reason to seat a child in economy.

  4. 100% agree and respect the POV..as Dr. Huxtable said: “Your mother and I are rich,” Cliff tells Vanessa in a Season 3 episode after she complains about the “burden” of coming from privilege. “You have nothing.” (from Aisha Harris’ Slate article)

  5. Since our son was five months old (he’s 21 now), he’s flown business class on most of his transcon and overseas flights. This isn’t because we’re spoiling him; but because I’ve learned how to be astute with the airline points and it often makes more sense to go in the front than to pay for the cheapest economy ticket.

    (However, his start in business class was more accidental than deliberate. We adopted him in Guatemala, and on the trip to bring him home, Continental Airlines messed things up with flight delays and lost baggage — and the station chief there was well aware of the problem. So we collected $200 US each in compensation and first class upgrades — providing effectively, as well, my first forward cabin seats in my life.)

    Our son acknowledges he’s been spoiled — he’s overseas now on an expense paid economy class tour and “hates” “being stuck in the back”. But that is more in jest than substance. He totally appreciates how expensive business class is, and how wasteful it would be for us to spend real money on these tickets, but obviously never complains when I spring for paid upgrades and the like. And there have been times, including a memorable trip from London England to Canada when I sat in the back with him, while my wife got the one precious upgrade that cleared. We had a great time, especially listening to the angry “super elite” passenger whose upgrade didn’t clear!

    If we had a large family (or even two kids) I expect that we wouldn’t be sending the kids in business class except in rare occasions on family trips. But we aren’t teaching bad values in showing our son how to combine living well without wasting money. And I expect many other kids in the big seats up front are travelling under similar circumstances.

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