Should Kids Be Banned From Airline Lounges?

A passenger shared to Reddit his experience at the Delta Air Lines Sky Club at New York LaGuardia where kids had run amok. These lounges have become far more expensive. The airline bans basic economy passengers from entering and even their own elite passengers in economy who are flying internationally, to cut down on crowding. Maybe they should impose age restrictions, too?

Certainly blocking buffets and touching up food that they aren’t taking, and yelling and screaming, are poor behaviors – regardless of age.

[I]f your children are going to run around like banshees, stand in the way, cut in and out of the food lines and put their little paws on everything, shout and sing, could you please just take them to any of the other fine new dining establishments at LGA? When I can hear your kid from the complete opposite side of the lounge, you’re not doing it right.

What’s described here, frankly, isn’t any worse than the behavior I see from adults in lounges all the time – especially crowded lounges. Once the density of passengers passes a certain point, people are dodging and weaving especially through the buffet areas.

The behavior of children in the lounge is a function of parents and circumstance, and the circumstances more often than not are the fault of parents too. Did they schedule flights too early, or well past a child’s bed time? During weather or mechanical events sometimes this is just outside the control of the parents, but traveling with children means keeping them on a schedule as much as possible as well as having the tools to keep them entertained in an age-appropriate way (given attention spans and interests).

Too many parents simply turn off an ‘lounge’ in the lounge. That’s easier to do in a lounge that provides a kids room with activities (and television!) but many do not.

Still, far more often bad behavior in lounges is attributable to adult passengers rather than children – talking too loudly on the phone, bare feet up on the furniture, and shoving and endless array of snacks into carry on bags treating the buffet as an unpriced grocery store. Yet no one ever suggests banning adults from lounges?

Here’s a grown man with his feet on the furniture of a United Club in front of a sign that says not to put your feet on the furniture.

Credit: Ari

Less irony perhaps, but this grown man took off his shoes and socks before propping his foot on a table in an Admirals Club.

And here are two grown men, captured on video in a British Airways lounge stuffing beer into their bags – the passenger filming reported they took over 20 cans (and 5 bags of chips) for the road.

If a lounge were to impose “adults only” rules then perhaps passengers should have to test in as “adults.”

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. @Gary, to answer your headline question the answer is: No, the parents should be given one warning to control their kids or the family will be asked to leave. If they refuse to leave the lounge membership should be revoked.

  2. Yes. Also that former boozehound that always comments about banning alcohol from airports (maybe even the planet) should be banned from lounges too.

  3. The kids that don’t know how to behave as well as ones not being watched by their parents they both should be kicked out. So that would be all kids.

  4. In all my years traveling and being in lounges I’ve never seen the “kids running around” Olympics. In fact I’ve never seen anyone of any age running inside a lounge.

  5. Children should not be allowed in airline lounges under any circumstances. In addition there should be a large sign when entering a lounge “If your behaviour is deemed disruptive in any way, you will be escorted out of this lounge”. Why should decent people have to put up with noise and ignorance in an airline lounge? Those of us with brains are weary of catering to the lowest common denominator. Give us a lounge to share with decent people and keep the disrupters OUT.

  6. @jsn55, So as per you regardless of paying thousands to travel, if a family with young kids are traveling together on Qatar qsuites with transit in Doha, they should be barred from entering the Al Mourjan lounge due to age restriction after paying many thousands for the business class seats (where kids behaved fine already on the plane)

    And @Gary L, I believe you have young daughter yourself, and this article’s suggestion means sabatoging your own family from having access when you otherwise had legitimate access to said lounges?

  7. In many cases parents “disconnect” from their kids behavior. In pediatric specialty (medicine and dentistry) we are seeing poorly “trained” kids who are not taught manners, respect for others and generally act like the world is their playroom with no direction or intervention on the part of parents. The world must put up with their little ones demands. I have seen some amazingly well behaved kids in the clubs (AA, but recently BA and Cathay lounges.) but I have also seen the opposite. Especially in clubs with no kids room. I like the idea of a warning and if refusal to get kids behave being asked to leave. with second offense elicits the club permanent ban or the kids names and likely mileage accounts flagged. Yes I know these parents are frequent fliers and likely toss a lot of $ the airlines way. It needs to be published policy so the special service agents have backup.

  8. I don’t support a blanket ban, but If the kids can’t behave then both the kids and the parents should be kicked out

  9. In CLT CD lounge today. Woman with a min poodle (did not notice a service dog vest) take a dump near the rear food service area. Also saw a male carrying another frou frou “service dog” vested pooch into the club as I left. We had a true service dog on our trip to BNA. Owner appeared to be ex military and the dog well behaved.

  10. Poor adult behavior is not an excuse for poor child behavior. We don’t have to accept either. Create mandatory family sections for groups with kids. Enforce etiquette rules for adults as well. Good luck with doing that in the US though, with lazy workers that don’t care and an entitled, narcissistic populace.

  11. I’ve had many more issues with adults in lounges than children. Either way, Adults are the issue.

  12. Thinning the credit card crowd will take care of a lot of the problem at Sky Clubs and hopefully the crowding issue. In three trips to Tokyo last year I only remember seeing one child at the HND lounge. And ban the dogs. Had 3 at once in ATL and none were marked service dogs ( never seen a French Bulldog service animal).

  13. I don’t have a solution, but an observation. As we’ve made the lounges more exclusive, both child and adult misbehavior has increased. Possibly, having spent a lot of money to achieve this status, they feel “entitled” to take their shoes off, filch from the buffet, permit their dogs to relieve themselves, let their kids work out some energy?

  14. We don’t see this behavior in Asia. America is culturally bankrupt. Simply kick out the offenders and 3 strikes and out.

  15. Why discriminate against kids? Bad behavior is bad behavior at any age.
    Forget the age and focus on the behaviors. Seems simple enough.

  16. I think all children and their guardians should be given free entrance to lounges and required to stay there until 45 minutes before their flights. Much less of a chance of them getting lost and it does the greatest good for the most people.

  17. As the parent of a three year old, we are highly cognizant of our kid’s behavior and if he starts to act up, we leave. I think what David P up above said is absolutely right “bad behavior is bad behavior at any age.” Kids shouldn’t be banned, bad behavior should be banned.

  18. Lounges… Home to poorly sanitized buffet lines patronized by folks pissing, pooping and flying on planes without washing their hands prior to grabbing low-grade meat and overcooked pasta with shared utensils.

  19. As one who spends a LOT of time in the lounges…I have a few observations:

    There are bad kids
    There are worse adults
    Most people DON’T have lounge access (take a look around when you leave the lounge and head to your gate)
    There is absolutely an air of “entitlement” in the lounges
    If you’re complaining about lounge behavior…have you not noticed everyday behavior? It’s all pretty bad. The lounge is still marginally better (key word: marginally).

  20. Aside from unruly kids you also have people with nasty pets and just nasty people near or at open food, I’d just rather stay out of lounges. Let all the nastys congregate together inside the lounges.

  21. It probably would be best to ban children. Yes, it would be unfair to those of us (like myself) with well-behaved children. However, we know focusing on behavior and asking the poorly-behaved to leave doesn’t work/won’t happen. Lounge employees aren’t paid enough to deal with the confrontation that is likely to follow when those sort of people are asked to leave. So they don’t/won’t. I sure as hell wouldn’t.

  22. My problem has always been with adults. talking loud on cell phones . Feet on furniture. , bags in the middle of isles. leaving their dishes everywhere. Just rude adults.

  23. Don’t be silly. Kids should not be banned from airline lounges as long as they’re not acting up (same for adults acting up). Kids should be barred from club lounge entry unless the club lounges have a specific children’s area.

  24. As usual, your comments have little to no substance. Always making sure nobody could possibly be offended. Kids should 100% not be allowed in lounges, not in anything other than a coach. I have seen people clipping their feet nails in the middle of the lounge; gross, absolutely, but nothing is as disruptive as kids running amok with parents who cannot/will not/not be able to/or simply don’t care. On chance and blacklisted across all airlines (domestic and every US carries internationally)—too many ruined trips to an already stressful journey from a few hours to 40 hours. Yes, I want to see you for 40 hours sitting next to or behind a non-stop screaming baby or unruly child. Why do I pay $12K for a flight not to have peace and be as relaxed as possible on a long journey? I know this might seem unpopular, but I have seen many, many people agreeing with me and even would pay a premium for a non-kid flight and, of course, never in any lounge. If the airlines want to do something for kids, create a lounge where they can snot all over and infect each other. Then, make a soundproof read with a deaf FA that takes care of the kids while nobody else is bothered. Millennials and Gen X are clueless about how to discipline children. Just today, I was at a grocery store, and some 3-4-year-old was screaming at the top of his lungs- “I want a doughnut.” once, no, this went on for the whole time I was in the same section; the mother simply ignored it. If I had done that as a kid, I would have ended up in a hospital or some institution for uncontrollable children. Do you think anyone ever asked us what we want to eat? No, eat or don’t? Tomorrow you’ll have it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner until you eat what’s in front of you, no talk back. Nowadays, everyone is babied and catered to like everyone is helpless. What kind of adults are they going to be if throwing a tantrum with your parents is allowed? Loosers, nothing else and nobody but the parents are to blame.

  25. I generally avoid the lounges now due to overcrowding. Cancelled a UA Credit card that had lounge privileges and will likely cancel an AA card with same. The AA lounges at DFW are sometimes like mini-day care centers, especially in summer.
    Perhaps a better solution is to offer a Business lounge with a minimal admission age of 18. To manage costs, scale back the amenities in the regular lounge and offer an elevated experience in the Biz lounge (and charge for it).

  26. I have seen many more incidents of bad behavior from adults than from children. How about we empower staff to eject patrons just as we do with FAs on planes? And publish simple rules like “no loud telephone calls, no audio through speakers, no feet on chairs, etc.”

  27. I wonder if the commenter has negative feelings seeing a child in a lounge regardless of that child’s behavior? In my experience, some passengers seem to feel this way about seeing children in First Class.

    For a Panama to Atlanta Flight on Delta, I purchased First Class for both my young son and myself. We were in the last row in F and the elderly passenger in front of us was clearly upset that there was a kid in F. He gave us angry looks upon first seeing my son, who was then 4 years old. My son was well behaved during the flight, but talked a lot without shouting. Sometime during the flight, this elderly man turned around, stuck his head in the crack behind his fully reclined seat and mine, and very loudly asked my son to not talk. This was done not very nicely and with other passengers noticing. So, I then told this man equally loudly that he was a horrible human being and a miserable person for speaking in such a manner to a well behaved young child. His wife jumped in to defend him and I told her that she had clearly married the right person because she was as miserable and sad as her husband. The Delta flight attendant never said anything, but saw what happened and was extra nice to my son and I after this incident. One fellow passenger commented to me and the elderly couple both that my son was well behaved and not behaving in a way that should bother anyone. However, she also said that I was wrong to so openly shame the elderly couple because “I must respect my elders,” and that shaming old people was a bad example for my son.

    My conclusion is that the sight of a child in F Class upsets some people. Perhaps it’s the same with lounges.

  28. Ran into someone who said they should ban people who frequent frequent flyer blogs and websites for crowding up the place and being all so pretentious with baggage tags, whether the tags are the yellow Flyertalk tags seen in a BA lounge at LHR T5, plastic bling tags at Centurion lounges, or InsideFlyer tags at the SAS Gold lounge at CPH.

  29. It’s not the fault of an 18-month old when he or she cries; they’re a baby. It’s not the fault of a 4- or 5-year when they “run amok”; they’re little kids full of restless energy. Babies are going to cry, and kids are going to be restless. Period.

    It is the PARENTS’ FAULT for not controlling their restlessness, and doing nothing when their baby cries…and that’s true whether it’s in a lounge or on the airplane. But the solution (at least inside lounges) is relatively simple: one warning to the parents; second time, out the door with the entire family. Lounges could help by having a specific playroom for young children, but that would involve actually spending money, so we know that’s never going to happen.

    But lounges won’t enforce their own policies, so we know this is a problem — “oh, but only for a few” — no, it’s a problem for every OTHER person in the lounge who aren’t the parents of the disruptive child.

  30. I don’t see enough disruptive children in lounges so often as to make me want to see them banned from lounges. What I do see is too many couples and groups of adults who too often are disrupting the air with waves of chatter between sips of alcohol.

    Maybe lounges with alcoholic beverages would become more peaceful if alcohol was banned in the lounges. 😉

  31. Bob,

    “Only American (and Indian) kids.

    European kids behave.”

    Not true. Even the legendary French kids at restaurants are increasingly more akin to their American, Canadian, Chinese, Dutch, Indian and Scandinavian equivalents as parenting standards have changed everywhere along with a drop in public standards of civility and consideration for others. It probably also doesn’t help with all those parents and other child caretakers allowing for young kids to become YouTube and gaming addicts.

  32. Didn’t want to leave out the British brat parents, so add them to the list too. But the British SINKs and DINKs in lounges can be just as bad as any kids.

  33. Parents of kids banned from attending school classes for two or three weeks due to illness from the highly contagious measles virus use sickness as an opportunity for a family travel vacation. Savvy travelers know that many AMEX Centurion® Lounges in the Centurion Network include a kid’s room to help isolate and reduce infectious viral disease transmission between their sick kids and other travelers while waiting for a connecting flight. Card Members and their kids can escape into luxury before flying, enjoy food and drink from award-winning chefs, and get away from it all in thoughtfully curated spaces like a kid’s room designed for relaxation or play.

    Pro tip: Grab a spare air sickness bag before leaving the aircraft so your kid can puke in the bag instead of on the carpet in the airport lounge.

  34. All this is due to a shift from a paid Club membership to cc holders and Elite status earned by cc spend + other sources of LTs. The crowds in the domestic airline clubs is not the same.
    In the past when AA status was earned only by flying, my 13 year old AA EXP would strongly disagree with some of the posters here on the lounge admission..

  35. After several international flights with whiney kids in business/first class or domestic flights with whiney kids (not infants)…all children under the age of say…ten…should be checked as luggage. I flew on VS from the US to LHR. There was a little boy, maybe 3-4, who screeched the whole time in VS’s “Upper Class”. The price I paid for that seat was a waste for me as I didn’t sleep a wink on the flight.

  36. Gary’s next article, ban kids from high end hotels like Waldorf, St Regis, etc, they should only be allowed in Fairfield inn type hotels at most!

  37. You have kids and adults who misbehave and always will. The problem is that would be “enforcers” either aren’t empowered to deal with misbehavior or are young themselves (under 40) and don’t recognize inappropriate behavior.

    My wife and I were at a boutique hotel in Charlotte a few years back. The hotel’s small bar was packed with yahoos who had come into town for a wedding. It was 11 pm but they brought their children to the bar and the kids amused themselves by giving each other rides around the lobby in the luggage carts. While the parents and the children were quasi-feral and we wished they had chosen to stay elsewhere, it was the job of the hotel staff to put an end to the nonsense. The staff just watched.

    These days, it seems that every lounge, plane, hotel, restaurant, etc is packed. With things this busy, there should be no fear of cracking down on the poorly behaved and disruptive. The minimal cost of losing their business is more than offset by the improved experience for everyone else.

  38. All these trash Americans and their worthless spawn of evil should be banned from flying…but ,hélas, here we go

  39. So, year after year, I visit more than 50 airport lounges. I can count on one hand the number of childen who “have annoyed me” in those lounges. None were “running amok” — I’ve never seen that. I have, rarely, encountered screaming children where the parent did not remove the child from the lounge. Mind you, screaming children in lounges are rare; screaming non-removed children are almost unicorns.

    This is in contrast to airplanes themselves where, more often than not, I encounter a child screaming for extended periods of time. I’m not sure what, if anything, can/should be done about these onboard screamers, but that’s a real annoyance. Kids being annoying in lounges is a fake problem.

  40. The airlines need to ENFORCE existing rules and etiquette. They are charging more and more now for these rooms. So the at the very least, they could have “enforcers” handles brats and barefoot bros equally. Otherwise: Ban Kids. ALL OF THEM. Especially babies & teens.

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