Babies, First Class, and the Frequent Flyer

Last evening I flew to Florida in first class and there were three separate families with babies.  Not small children, babies.  I love babies and children but it is important to understand the purpose of first class.  Most non-frequent flyers just assume those in first class are spoiled rich people who don’t want to sit in the back with the regular people.  I heard as much last night as several people boarded.  But nothing could be further from the truth.  They may be rich and spoiled but most frequent flyers, first class passengers, are tired, weary business travellers who need a rest from a long miserable day or week.  Often they have been away from their families.  It’s important to understand how those sitting in first class get there.  There are two types of frequent flyers, 1) long distance, fewer trip travellers and 2) shorter distance, segment travelers.  The way to obtain airline status is by those two methods.  For example, on American Airlines, Gold status is achieved by either logging 25,000 miles, or 30 segments.  A segment is any one trip to anywhere.  A round trip ticket therefore, accounts for two segments.  Fifteen round trip tickets in any given year, will get you to gold status.  Fifty-thousand miles, sixty segments or 30 round trip tickets will get you Platinum status.  Those are the people flying in first class.  They are often exhausted and weary, simply requiring sleep and a little peace.  So when you board a plane and there are crying, screaming babies, (crying and screaming is contagious), you want to start crying and screaming.  First class is supposed to be a grown-up, parent room.  A safe haven from all the stresses of the day, particularly of those who board planes as often as most people board trains or busses.  It’s not simply about separation from the main cabin.  It’s about a small respite from the hectic life of the business traveller.

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