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Malaysia Airlines defends controversial 'baby ban' in First Class

By David Flynn     Filed under: Airbus A380, MAS, first class, Malaysia Airlines

Malaysia Airlines is extending its controversial 'baby ban' to the upper deck economy section of its new Airbus A380, and also prohibiting children under 12 for good measure: see our full report 

UPDATE | Stung by a worldwide wave of criticism over its ban on infants travelling in first class cabins, Malaysia Airlines has issued a media statement defending its decision

However, whereas MAS managing director and CEO Tengku Azmil has previously cited complaints from passengers who "spend money on 1st class and can't sleep due to crying infants" as justification for the 'baby ban' – which applies to its Boeing 747-400s and forthcoming Airbus A380s – MAS takes a different tack in explaining why the pointy end is a baby-free zone.

"Bassinet facilities were originally available in the First, Business and Economy class zones of the 747’s" the airline says in a statement issued late this afternoon. "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."

The airline is at pains to point out that the business and economy cabins of its 747-400s, like the rest of its current fleet, "are equipped with bassinet facilities to cater for infant travel."

PREVIOUS | Malaysia Airlines will extend its controversial 'baby ban' to the airline's new flagship Airbus A380.

MAS managing director and CEO Tengku Azmil confirmed the plan, telling Australian Business Traveller in a Twitter exchange that "we r (sic) planning to stick to our policy for now".

When asked to clarify if this meant the "no babies in first class policy – so no bassinets in 1st on MAS A380?" Azmil replied "Yup!".

Earlier this month the refreshingly outspoken Azmil used Twitter to defend MAS' decision not to install bassinets in the first class cabin of its Boeing 747-400 fleet, as a result of which parents with infants are not permitted to travel in first class and have to book in the bassinet-equipped business or economy sections instead.

Azmil said that the airline has received many complaints about crying infants from first class passengers that they "spend money on 1st class and can't sleep due to crying infants", following this with the admission that it was possible for MAS to fit bassinets to the pointy end of its 747-400s "but many ppl complain abt it."

These 747-400s fly between Kuala Lumpur and Sydney, as well as KL-London and KL-Amsterdam, with the Airbus A380s due to take over those routes next year.

Sydney and Melbourne are on the shortlist for the MAS Airbus A380 once the first flights from KL to London and Amsterdam are bedded down and MAS builds up what will eventually be a six-strong superjumbo fleet.

Do you agree with Azmil? Should babies be banned from the pointy end of the plane and relegated to economy, or premium economy at best, so that travellers paying a premium for their tickets can be guaranteed a more peaceful flight for working or sleeping?

Click the poll below to have your say.

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About David Flynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

 

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1 on 20/6/11 by am

It's hard because I've been on both sides... On the one hand people travelling in first and business pay for the peace and quiet, and the ability to sleep overnight to be fresh for work the next day. A screaming baby can easily destroy this (as I've learned from past experience)... But I myself have travelled with infants in premium cabins, and think the airline would be mad not to offer to take my money in Business rather than sending me down the back... In fact I would fly with a different airline if I was ever refused with a young child...

Babies are no worse than many other pax in terms of smell, noise, rudeness etc - in fact 90% of the time a young child behaves perfectly... Parents should just take some responsibility for their screaming kid and take it down to the rear galley to calm it down...

1 on 20/6/11 by bob_vettel

Actually you can still fly on Business with a baby as bassinets are available. Only First has the restrictions. A lapbaby is unsafe no matter where they sit!

1 on 20/6/11 by am

I understand that - was responding on the topic/idea of banning infants/kids from premium cabins as a whole rather than the specific example in this story... 

2 on 28/6/11 by David

It will be very interesting to see how this shakes out for MAS. My gut feeling is that they will win more far business travellers (and in first, which means primo profit) than they will lose parents.

3 on 29/6/11 by damien

I'm pretty sure that crying and screaming babies are the biggest annoyance when you're trying to sleep on a flight.. good on em lol

4 on 30/6/11 by Davep

I think this is a controversal topic because it obviously depends on if you have a baby with you.....

But if the "Baby Ban" should go ahead surely it should carry for the whole aeroplane?

5 on 30/6/11 by KG

I think it is a good move, esp for first class. The thing is that you actually do not pay for the baby when travelling in First (or perhaps a small amount). The annoyance to others can be very big though, even if they are not crying as they do need constant attention which means activity in the cabin. Having said that, I must admit I have travelled first class with next to me a rowdy oil cowboy and wished for the entire flight it was a baby sitting next to me....as all in all not all babies are bad behaved and everybody has a bad day sometimes!

6 on 8/7/11 by Matthews

Congratulations MAS. All airlines should follow suit. Well done!

7 on 13/4/12 by world traveller

When people pay high premium to sit in the first class cabin they certainly deserve to have peace and quiet. Any kind of noise in the cabin, especially for tiring long haul flights, should not be tolerated. Be that from crying babies, mulling children, as well as loud, obnoxious conversation done by adults!

8 on 13/4/12 by world traveller

When people pay high premium to sit in the first class cabin they certainly deserve to have peace and quiet. Any kind of noise in the cabin, especially for tiring long haul flights, should not be tolerated. Be that from crying babies, mulling children, as well as loud, obnoxious conversation done by adults!

9 on 18/1/14 by Alvin

Those 758 people who'd like to ban babies from first and business class have no heart.

 

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