DEAR MISS MANNERS: On a flight where there were small children in business class, the business people did not appreciate the wiggling, screaming, crying, kicking of seats and overall disruption. The business people were trying to either rest or work. In their opinion, they purchased a premium ticket to avoid the calamities of flying coach.
After one business class passenger talked to another passenger parent about his disruptive child in first class, the parent retorted, "I purchased a ticket just like you did. My kid has every right to be here. My kid is a kid and can't help it."
Mr. Businessman snorted back at the parent, "How would you like it if I brought my grandfather, who has dementia, and seated him next to YOU in business class? He also yells, screams, soils his pants and drools. He can't help it, either. I'll also lay Grandpa in the middle of the aisle and change his diaper just like you do with your kid. I bet you wouldn't think it cute."
It got ugly, and the airline staff came to calm the situation. I did not engage in either side of the argument, remaining wide-eyed and silent, but I could see points as to why each side thought themselves correct.
I've always thought that business class was the equivalent of the "grown-up" table at Thanksgiving -- that one had to earn through proper manners and decorum the right to sit there. My personal belief is that if one is not conscious of the decorum expected in first/business class, they have no "business" being there, no matter what the age of the passenger may be.
Others believe that they paid a premium for additional space in business class and it does not matter if their child, mentally challenged companion, whatever, disrupts others. Others say to suck it up, as it's public transport.
Miss Manners, please help society with some guidelines on expected decorum in first class. What should we tolerate? We realize that we are flying at 40,000 feet in a tube with no escape hatch. We realize that some people paid a premium for extra space in business class for their wiggly young ones, and some people paid a premium for a business class seat for peace and quiet. Co-existing for these two polarities is getting on passengers' raw nerves.
GENTLE READER: Very little is succeeding in not doing that nowadays. People have gone so far as to bring their emotional support rodents to deal with the stress of it all. Miss Manners cannot help but be amused by the image of irate business class passengers seated next to actual rats, rather than imagined ones. They might start to appreciate human children.
It is public transport: There is nothing prohibitive about who sits in which class except for the cost itself. And while it is to be hoped that no diapers will be changed outside of the restrooms, your examples provide evidence that rudeness knows no age limits.
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, email@example.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)