Kids in First Class: Second-Class Citizens?
It's no secret that I travel a lot - more than most. Having most of my family in New Orleans and Mississippi, yet being a Southern California resident means that I fly at least 3 times a year. When you add in work trips and the occasional vacation, it's not hard to see how I quickly achieved what most airlines consider "premier" status - a perk that I received after flying more than 25,000 miles in a year.
Last week as I checked my daughter and myself in for our flights home to New Orleans for Spring Break I was delighted to discover that she and I had both been upgraded to a first class seat for the very long flight. I smiled, and then laughed out loud at the sheer ridiculousness of it - my daughter would manage to fly first class for the first time at 5 years old - a bucket-list type of item that I didn't check off of my own list until age 26. I even mused out loud to friends on Facebook - do they even allow children in first class? Of course I knew the answer was yes - it was just so rarely had I ever seen a young child in a first class seat - but I suppose Justin Bieber doesn't sit in the back of the plane, now does he?
When we arrived at the airport, we gratefully zipped through the first class security line, then boarded the plane almost immediately. We settled in nicely - I was as proud as I could be when my daughter requested her drink by saying "May I have a Sprite please, ma'am?" Even at 5 years old, she understood that she was receiving treatment at a level that was higher than she is used to - and she loved it. Everything seemed to be going exceptionally well.
The flight attendant announced to us that she was going to take our dinner orders, and that she would try her hardest to accommodate everyone's first choice, but it would depend on availability. That seemed reasonable to me - and when she came around to take our orders, I requested the chicken wrap, and my daughter requested a salad with grilled chicken.
About 10 minutes later the flight attendant came over to me, bent down and said "We don't have enough salads for the people behind you to each have one - so your daughter will just have to eat the chicken wrap".
I sat there, stunned. I couldn't even respond.
She may be five, but her first class seat was ticketed at the same fare as the ladies behind us. Mind you - they also ordered AFTER us - so why should my daughter lose her preference to accommodate their choices? I doubted that if my daughter had ordered the wrap and I had ordered the salad that the situation would have played out in the same way. I was frustrated - while I understand that this is a world run by adults - in this case the adult and child were on level playing field and as I sat quietly, I grew more and more incensed.
Was it minor? Yes. Should I just let it go or ignore it? Probably.
And I did - I let it go, but in my mind I was already writing this piece. Part of me thinks that it was small and silly. But the other part of me says that we placed our order first, and that it was rude to take the option away from my daughter in order to give it to someone based solely on their age. And that part of me? Well frankly, that part of me is downright ticked off.
So what do you think? Are kids second-class citizens when they fly first class? Should they be - or do identical fares deserve equal treatment - no matter the age of the person in the seat?
More on traveling with kids:
- Traveling With Kids: 6 Tips for Planning and Surviving
- We Had To Ask: Would You Take the Family on a Road Trip?