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TPG Reader Summary: Do Children Belong in Airport Lounges?

April 16, 2018
14 min read
Boy looking over business class seat of plane
TPG Reader Summary: Do Children Belong in Airport Lounges?
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From traveling with a screaming child that cannot be soothed, to acknowledging and affirming their place in our world, discussing whether kids belong in airports is a topic that can go haywire as fast as a toddler meltdown.

TPG Lounge member Bryan N. recently asked, "What is your position on taking kids into airport lounges?"

Are these hallowed sanctuaries of elite access meant to be child-free at all costs, dependent on good behavior, or open to all who hold the requisite access?

We compiled some of our readers' responses below: (Answers may be lightly edited for clarity)

You paid, your rights

I take my kids and they enjoy all the free food, including cookies. Sending them back for seconds and to get me some more snacks and drinks keeps them occupied, and keeps me sane. – Nick G.

I'm probably going to get flamed for this, but everyone in an airport, aside from employees, is paying a lot in some form of currency to be there. Why is it any less obnoxious for an ill-mannered child/parent to be out in the general area than it is in a lounge? I realize we're spending extra to be in lounges, but that's exclusively because we can afford it in some way. So can the parents. I'd love for all children to be as well behaved as mine, but they aren't. Being in a loud concourse with no comfortable place to sit can fray a child's nerves just as an adult's, probably more so because they haven't learned coping techniques like adults supposedly have. Being in a calmer atmosphere is likely to result in a calmer child, all else being equal. Of course, all else is not equal, but I don't know why we think lounges are our personal domains to the exclusion of other, very human, beings. We should all be on our best behaviors always, but some people, like the drunk at the bar, or a tantrum-ing toddler, just have worse bests than we hope we do. – Pam V.

Well, sometimes an overtired or overstimulated child fares better in the lounge than the airport. There are plenty of adults that bother me more than children acting like children- adults in the lounge sick coughing and sneezing all over, adults talking loudly on their phones, adults sprawling their stuff all over the place... I figure if you pay for it, it is just as much your right as mine.

??‍♀️ – Allysun Reidy

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If they have lounge access / pay, they are just as entitled as you and I are, but should be expected to follow the proper decorum that is expected in the lounge. I have personally seen and had to deal with more problems and annoyances / disruptions at airports from adults than from children. – Matthew S.

Parents can control behavior but not crying. I’m tired of business travelers who think families are low-level species. These days, despite being 1K, I have a better time in economy where people are not so entitled than [with] you intolerant jerks, thinking lounges were created for business people only. – Jean-Francois R.

As a parent of a two-year-old and almost four-year-old, the lounge is a reprieve and allows us to get drinks (for all) and snacks. Also the bathrooms are cleaner, more accessible than in the main airport area. I've learned not to judge, and be more sympathetic to that parent who has the "inconsolable" toddler. Traveling is hard with kids at that age. – Daisy P.

I don’t know what they’re going through. It’s just easier to put on my noise-cancelling headphones and go about my day. – Lindsey B.

I’m fine with “kids will be kids” as long as we get the corollary “adults must be adults.” – Oric E.

How will children learn appropriate behavior without exposing them to situations and expectations? It is the parent's responsibility to provide the teaching moments. – Pat B.

Before I was a parent, I had a very different attitude about this. All I'll say is that most airports afford terrible options for parents with children. Kids have short attention spans (as do some adults these days), and there really isn't much to do at an airport if you've got a long layover or your flight is delayed. Sure, we can bring all sorts of distractions, from books to games and activities, to iPads. But, inevitably, small children will find it challenging to just sit around for long periods of time. – Jeremy F.

Depends on the kid's behavior

Children in a lounge should be seen and not heard. Children, unless they have their own memberships or qualifying ticket, are for the most part the guest of their parents. As such, parents, and any other host bringing in a guest to the lounge, are responsible for their behavior. – Katherine R.

I welcome any well-behaved human into lounges. There are some kids, and some adults, who should not be allowed. – Kevin L.

I don't have kids, and it'll be awhile til then. so my perspective is really just general respect. I can forgive when parents apologize or try to console, but when nothing is done and the kid is screaming or keeps hitting my seat, I've wanted to be like, "Hey, are you gonna parent your child, or should I?" – Carl C.

I totally think this is not a kid conversation, but "appropriate behavior in lounges" behavior. Kids are not the issue. – Roxanne R.

I'm fine with it but PLEASE give them headphones for their devices (although some adults need this reminder too

?). – Michelle S.

I'm all for having your children in lounges as long as they're well-behaved. I believe that lounges are a place to relax before a flight. I'm not saying that kids need to be banned, but parents need to take action, and remove themselves and child from the lounge if they become disruptive. – Bryan N.

If an adult guest brought by someone entering the lounge was shouting at the top of their lungs for 20+ minutes, and the attendants did not remove both of them, I would find it unacceptable. Should I extend greater courtesy to younger guests? Children should be allowed. Inexcusable behaviors shan't be tolerated. Seems simple enough to me. – Ian M.

No problem with kids that are well behaved and act as id expect an adult (quiet, respectable, treats food and drink respectively) but the minute a kid starts playing up I expect the parent to a) address it b) if it continues to remove until they have calmed down. I’m in a lounge for peace and tranquility (and sometimes calming down my mum who is a terrible flier) so disruption is the last thing I need! – Kelly S.

At this point, it's a part of traveling. People are always going to have kids, some of those people are a**holes and so are some of those kids and some aren't. It's life. – Jonathan F.

It’s funny... I have 3 kids, and like the opportunity to take them into the United lounges when we travel for vacation. But at the same time, I’m irritated when I’m in the same lounges while traveling for work, and there are kids making a ruckus. I feel like, generally, my own kids understand they’re in an “inside voices” place, so they’re usually well-behaved. But you see plenty of kids who haven’t been prepped for the lounge environment, which can be irritating to folks trying to get work done or get some peace and quiet. No right answer to this one. – Russell H.

As a parent myself, I’d never stand for some of the kind of unacceptable behavior I’ve seen at the airport, including in lounges. My son knows better to act up or there’ll be consequences. Seems too many parents these days are just fine with it. – Jason C.

Kids will be kids, but if the parents don’t notice or take appropriate action, that’s when it becomes unacceptable. Kids cry and misbehave on airplanes, which I don’t fault them for. When a kid cries and screams for 9 hours because the parents thought she’d sleep the entire way and didn’t bring anything for her to do, that’s not okay. – Madeline S.

I’ve got very little problem with good kids being allowed, but parents should be respectful enough of others to try to keep their kids well-behaved (though the same could be said for restaurants and really any public place). – Jeff B.

I take my kids into lounges where they are expected to behave in an appropriate manner. Just like everywhere else. – Nancy C.

This is such a great question, because I’m torn about it too. You are right, well behaved kids are absolutely no problem in my eyes. But I was in a lounge last wed night, late, and there was a miserable one-year-old that just couldn't calm down. I realize the parents have a "right" to have their child in there, but it does seem really disrespectful of all the other people in the lounge... – Natalie F.

For me it's not about the child's behavior but about the parents' response. Kids are going to cry, misbehave, etc. Is the parent trying to soothe or change the behaviors? If they are, I have no issue. To expect small children to be perfect is unreasonable; to expect parents to do their best is perfectly acceptable. (Said as a parent of a now 2 year old who has been flying since he was 9 months old.) – Lara A.

I don’t mind if the kids are well-behaved. But if your child is acting up, then one parent takes the child outside and then switch so they each have a break. – Catherine Q.

The "lounge" discussion aside, having raised 4 kids, I can tell you, the best way to illustrate to your child that they're behaving inappropriately for the circumstances is to remove them from it. I have walked out of the grocery store before (leaving behind a full cart) to demonstrate to my kids that playground behavior is not appropriate for the grocery store. They were stunned. I made them stand outside with me until they got the message, then we returned to our cart. Likewise, I've removed them from restaurants, etc., with instructions that we would return when their behavior was appropriate. Was this inconvenient for ME? Heck yes! But they learned quickly, and we've received positive feedback their whole lives since, as recently as this spring break, compliments from neighboring travelers and flight attendants about how well-behaved my children are. (They don't want to see how Mama would remove them from the circumstances if they were ill-behaved on a PLANE!

? – Debbie B.

They should never be allowed in, no matter what

I've had out-of-control kids run amok in an airport lounge while I was trying to get work done. That was not my issue. They ran into someone, making them trip, and spill their drink on my laptop. The laptop was fried and I lost all the work I had been doing. I don't blame the kids, I blame the parents that do a piss-poor job raising their kids and not disciplining them. So no. I don't think kids under the age of 10 should be allowed in airport lounges. – Tiffany H.

Everyone loves kids...

– Matthew O.

I have a slightly different point of view towards the lounge. I disagree that kids have a “right” to be there. The airline or Centurion lounges are private spaces that guests have to pay (one way or another) to enter. A certain standard of behavior should be expected and enforced. The problem is, the entitlement attitude has gotten so bad and the public loves to use social media to slam any company for doing anything at all that they can twist to appear bad. It would be a public relations nightmare for the lounge to kick out someone being disruptive. – Tracy Y.

Staff absolutely should remove a child who is not following the rules of the lounge. But it would be a nightmare. They're in a bad spot. – Sarah K.

If you think that it's unfair for certain folks to be able to sequester themselves away from the "unwashed masses," you're part of the problem. With as much travel as I do in a year, I rely on lounges to decompress before or after a long flight, get work done, etc. I pay for the premium. I specifically own a Platinum Amex because I can't relax or get anything done in the regular terminal with all that is going on out there. Children and adults who cannot conduct themselves in such a manner have no business being there. This is simple. When something like a lounge becomes accessible to everyone and anyone regardless of price or behavior, it becomes nothing. – Dan B.

These are private areas that people pay for access to. There's an expected standard of behavior when you pay to be a part of something. – Jeff W.

If you can’t parent your child, stay out of the lounges. Go into the regular terminals and leave us in peace. – Robin S.

Alternative solutions?

When it comes down to it, this and similar scenarios are not about kids, its about the social contract. Some people adhere to it, some don't, and all the rules in the world will not affect people who think they do not apply to them for whatever reason, or simply cannot be bothered to care. – Jeff L.

A sign needs to be posted: Our acceptance of admitting children is a privilege, and not required by law. This lounge is intended for adults; however, well-behaved children are welcome. This facility reserves the right to ask anyone to leave that has a child that is causing more than a momentary disruption. – Carolyn S.

I'd modify [that sign] to say "intended for well-behaved adults." Make it inclusive so that you can kick out misbehaving adults, too. – Andy A.

Lounges should have sound proof kid zones, so they can scream at each other, if they can't help it. Just like they now have those yellow coated cages for smokers on airports everywhere. – Peter P.

Some lounges have kids' rooms. Many many many years ago, Continental lounges in IAH had awesome kids-only rooms with TV and toys. – Anthony L.

I was just in the Air NZ Koru lounge at SYD yesterday. The lounge does have a small, glass-enclosed kids room. There were three kids inside screaming and running around very loudly. The whole lounge could hear them through the closed glass door. It was annoying, but I figured at least the parents were right there with them and the kids were getting some energy out before their flight. Once, when I was checking into this same lounge behind a family with toddlers, the attendant welcomed the family to the lounge and mentioned that they have the kids' room, which I interpreted as a polite reminder to the parents to manage their children’s behaviour. – Joe E.

I think lounges should have ball pits for the enjoyment of all. – Brian C.

Most of the Centurion lounges have soundproof “family rooms” that you can stick the kids in.

? – Lan P.

Noise-canceling headphones are a traveler's best friend! – Catherine S.

Suggest you read A blog for parents traveling with kiddos! – Shirley H.

Featured image by Getty Images