If you're planning to travel from Kuala Lumpur to London on Malaysia Airlines (and who isn't, right?), don't bring your baby — at least not if you are planning to fly first class. Babies and infants younger than 2 have been banned from first-class seats on the airline's Boeing 747-400 aircraft, a restriction that will soon be extended to six new Airbus A380 jets that will be brought into service next June.
Although the ban is not spelled out on their website, Malaysia Airlines has had the policy in place for some time. "Has bn 4 a while now" tweeted airline CEO Tengku Dato' Sri Azmil Zahruddin on June 19. "Also hv many complaints from 1st class pax [passengers] dat dey [that they] spend money on 1st class & can't sleep due to crying infants."
Although the tweets are nearly two weeks old, the story broke more widely this week, and Azmil has been following the debate on Twitter, answering one suggestion today: "We already hand out noise canx [cancelling] headphones in 1st class. They don't work so well for babies crying."
But while the company's CEO was tweeting today, Malaysia Airlines also released a press release — cited by Australian Business Traveler, the magazine that originally broke the baby-ban story — claiming that the policy is not due to noise but because the shape of the seats in its first-class cabins does not make them suitable to accommodate bassinets. This according to the Business Traveler:
"In 2003, Malaysia Airlines embarked on a revamp of First and Business class cabin of the B747s. The First class seat configuration was reduced from 18 to 12 for passengers to enjoy increased cabin space and extended legroom. Each new seat came with an electrically operated ottoman that doubles as a visitor seat and could convert to a lie-flat bed with the main seat. As a result of this seat revamp and the introduction of the ottoman, there was no facility for positioning bassinets in the First Class of the B747s."
According to the airlines, first-class passengers who show up with babies will be sent back to economy or business class.
A survey conducted earlier this year by the Business Travel & Meetings Show found that 75 percent of business travelers would support a ban on all passengers younger than 18 in first class.