Poorly Behaved Children Do Not Belong in the Polaris® Lounge

by Anthony Losanno
Polaris Child

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We had a United Airlines flight to Europe last night at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) and had just made our way into the Polaris® lounge. We were about to enjoy some cocktails when a shrieking noise filled the lounge. This was followed by even more screaming and a child literally flipping over the backs of several chairs in the lounge. His mother just watched as he did his gymnastics and his younger sister ran up and down the aisles banging on other passengers’ carry-on bags while making lots of noise. There is a place for young children (and while you might not agree with me), it’s not in an international Business Class lounge (especially when they cannot behave).

Several other guests were getting irritated after the hollering and constant motion went on for around ten minutes. I calmly asked an attendant for the lounge manager. A woman named Betty approached and asked me what the issue was this evening. I politely explained that the children (around ages five and eight) were running around and screaming. They were disturbing other guests in the lounge and asked her if she would please implore their parents to quiet down their children. I also confirmed with her that no one should be screaming and jumping over the furniture.

Polaris Seating 2

Bettty, not wanting to get involved in any conflict, told me that “they are children” and “you can use a phone booth if you want.” I told her that this was a bit condescending and that the lounge was there for everyone’s quiet enjoyment. She shrugged and walked away. Another couple seated nearby thanked me for saying something, but nothing further was done. I was about to ask the parents to occupy their children and meter their volume when they packed up to leave.

I understand that Polaris® is restricted to passengers with tickets and that these children must have been seated in Business Class. But, does that give them the right to turn the lounge into a playground and make so much noise that other guests are not able to enjoy the space? Should other guests have to move into soundproof phone booths so that little kids can run amok?

Anthony’s Take: I don’t think that bad parenting should mean that the experience is ruined for everyone around these children. Thankfully, they left. Had they not departed, I would have politely gone over and requested that they quiet down. What do you think? Should there be some control over children’s behavior in an airport lounge?

(The featured image does not include one of the actual children and is a stock image added to a photo I took of the Polaris® lounge.)

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26 comments

Jens LS November 24, 2023 - 7:06 am

While I agree with point of everyone should behave in a Lounge – adults and children alike – I don’t get the pass-the-buck-attitude. If you are bothered by the noise – deal with it yourself, don’t pass the buck to others to deal with. I.e. approach the parents straight away, don’t wait for others to fix your problem.

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Jens LS November 24, 2023 - 7:07 am

While I agree with point of everyone should behave in a Lounge – adults and children alike – I don’t get the pass-the-buck-attitude. If you are bothered by the noise – deal with it yourself, don’t pass the buck to others to deal with. I.e. approach the parents straight away, don’t wait for others to fix your problem.

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AnnCaroline Mörner November 25, 2023 - 1:11 am

There were staff there, paid to deal with any disturbances.

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Jomn November 25, 2023 - 3:52 pm

Exactly if you wanted for the issue to be resolved just handle it yourself pussy

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Liz November 29, 2023 - 5:43 pm

Are you going to bail them out??? It’s not our responsibility to be a security guard or moderator in this situation.

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Techie Traveler November 30, 2023 - 9:52 pm

The correct procedure is to advise the lounge personnel and not directly intervene. It is the lounge personnel’s job to deal with it, and if they have difficulty doing so, they should escalate totheir supervisor or call security. This is not something you should “deal with yourself”. The lounge should have rules and those who violate them (and their parents) should be asked to leave. United needs to make sure they have decent policies and that they are ahdered to. The lounge staff was wrong to ignore it. You were wrong to expect a passenger to self righteous parent confrontation.

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derek November 24, 2023 - 9:56 am

The adults were likely not their parents. The mother was in Santiago de Chile being high on mushrooms and nakedly attacking strangers (See other article)

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jsm November 24, 2023 - 10:43 am

The response should have been that the parents were told they had to leave the lounge but that the children could stay, leaving it to them whether to take their children with them. Children are children, but parents are parents, and if the parents can’t act appropriately then they have to leave.

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FrequentWanderer November 24, 2023 - 10:52 am

Children do not belong in a lounge. Like any bar in the US, the lounge should only welcome customers 21 and over.

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Michael November 26, 2023 - 9:07 am

Why that?
Paid business class, should have the same rights, no matter of their age.
I like kids in the lounge.

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tda1986 November 24, 2023 - 10:58 am

“There is a place for young children (and while you might not agree with me), it’s not in an international Business Class lounge (especially when they cannot behave).” I assure you that my daughter has been on better behavior in her few such visits than most of the adults. It really is all about the behavior. Banning children would be akin to stopping alcohol service because some people get drunk and misbehave. That said, if the lounge isn’t willing to do anything to police inappropriate guest behavior, then perhaps that’s what they should do.

“I don’t think that bad parenting should mean that the experience is ruined for everyone around these children.” And yet, that’s generally what it means.

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Christian November 24, 2023 - 1:04 pm

Unless there’s a specific area for them, children below 13 do not belong in a lounge. Perhaps exceptions can be made on a case by case basis but your situation – and United’s response – was simply unacceptable.

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Martin November 28, 2023 - 1:07 pm

Tough nuts cracker. I bring my 3 year in the lounge and she’s probably better behaved than you

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Frankfurt Airport Lufthansa
Anthony Losanno November 28, 2023 - 1:21 pm

This is not about the age of the children as much as it is about how badly they behaved. Would you let your three-year-old jump over the seats repeatedly, scream and run around, and touch other passengers luggage? I’d hope not.

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SDR November 24, 2023 - 1:22 pm

I completely agree-everyone seems to say “MY child would never…” and yet, it’s always someone’s child who is running around, picking up food without tongs, screaming, etc. So yes, please ban the children from the lounge. If an adult is causing enough of a ruckus, then managers (or eventually, security or if egregious enough, police) are called but gasp! never for children…so they should just be banned. Let the little darlings burn off energy and create mayhem elsewhere.

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Rich November 24, 2023 - 2:50 pm

I agree with you 100 percent. Children do not belong in airline clubs, behaved or otherwise. They are bars and work spaces for adults. Plus, in some cases they take spaces away from paying guests who cannot access the club (paging Sky Club). I am sorry, but if you are traveling with children, you forfeit the advantage of the club. Go to Chick-Fil-A and the gate with the rest of the families going to Orlando.

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DE November 30, 2023 - 12:00 pm

I’m sorry, but I pay for a lounge membership. While I know that’s for United Club and not Polaris, it’s a similar situation. I regularly take my 13-year old daughter and have since she was about 5, but she also knows she must behave in there, or she will not go back. As a paying member, I am entitled to take my family into the lounge. What about the restaurants in the airport that serve alcohol? Should she also not be allowed in there? Simply serving alcohol is not a reason to restrict access. But bad behavior should be a reason to be kicked out, but that includes bad behavior by adults, including those carrying on phone conversation over speaker or watching videos loudly enough that everyone around them can hear. This should also extend to the business class cabin on the flights as well.

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Bruce November 24, 2023 - 4:02 pm

I would have bypassed the parents and told the kids to pipe down. When the parents said something I’d say, as I have in the past btw, if you won’t discipline them someone has to.
Plus I would write to airline corporations complaining about the response of the manager.

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Sarah November 24, 2023 - 5:37 pm

We’ve been frequenting lounges since our son was 3….he’s 6 now. Before we go into a lounge, we review the “lounge manners” with him. If he can’t abide by the lounge manners, we leave (that’s never had to happen thankfully). That being said, the last time we were in a lounge, the most annoying person there was an adult walking around with her phone having a FaceTime conversation without headphones.

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BigTee November 25, 2023 - 8:53 am

Any interference by you or lounge staff: expect a multi-year, multi-million dollar lawsuit.

Enjoy American Civil rights.

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Dan November 25, 2023 - 11:20 am

The right thing to have happened is that the club staff should have said to the parents, you & the kids have to go. But that would rarely happen – few employees are going to put their job on the line in such a situation, right or wrong. And then the parent(s) say, “we paid, we’re not leaving…” What then? Is the club manager gonna call the airport cops? Hardly. Although I suppose a clever way for staff to manage the situation would be to say, “I’m worried for the safety of your children – doing back flips off the chairs is dangerous…” Bottom line, they’ve got eight or ten hours to serve and they (the employees) don’t want to be on the news.

Funny, though, if you went over and yelled at the kids, I’d bet everybody calls the cops on you. Sometimes when you’re out in public you’re gonna get bugged by other people in public.

It could have been worse – they could have been on your flight!

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qsysopr November 25, 2023 - 9:56 pm

The lounge use rules are flaky at best! Open to interpretation (“professional”? what if my profession is childcare??).

See link.

Kids are allowed in as long as there is no self-service drink bar.

If they paid for a qualifying ticket, then they are allowed in. Easy as that. If you are unhappy with the airlines response, you DO have a choice to switch allegiance. I have done that in the past (bad attitude). Clearly they didn’t care about your comfort BUT equally, if you believe that kind of behaviour is not acceptable, you are totally within the realms of reason to request a change in behaviour yourself.
http://www.united.com/en/us/fly/travel/airport/united-club-terms-and-conditions.html

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Elle November 29, 2023 - 8:00 pm

All of you saying that “they are children” – you are being ridiculous. What, we are to stop teaching manners and to respect others? It’s okay for children to tear up a place, being loud and jumping across furniture? The latter isn’t even safe for them. What’s wrong with you? Children need to learn that there is a time and a place for everything. And parents are accountable for how their children behave so do your job and keep your children in check. My son knew very well there would be consequences if he acted up and had to deal with them after the fact. If he needed to burn that energy children have (when you have no worries), I didn’t stay at the lounge, we explore the terminal. We walked, we went to the children’s play area if there was one. Don’t be a “soft” parent or worse off, an entitled parent. Your darling child might grow to be a brat and it’s so lovely for the rest of us to deal with adults like that.

Then, the staff at the lounge…double eye roll. The staff gets paid to manage the place so manage it. That means having to enforce the rules of the establishment.

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qsysopr November 25, 2023 - 9:57 pm

The lounge use rules are flaky at best! Open to interpretation (“professional”? what if my profession is childcare??).

See link.

Kids are allowed in as long as there is no self-service drink bar.

If they paid for a qualifying ticket, then they are allowed in. Easy as that. If you are unhappy with the airlines response, you DO have a choice to switch allegiance. I have done that in the past (bad attitude). Clearly they didn’t care about your comfort BUT equally, if you believe that kind of behaviour is not acceptable, you are totally within the realms of reason to request a change in behaviour yourself.
Link:
Paste below after united dot com
en/us/fly/travel/airport/united-club-terms-and-conditions.html

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Peter November 28, 2023 - 5:04 am

As a parent of an 8 and 6 year old I always ensure that my kids are safe and not disrespectful or disruptive. That being said, kids are kids. If I choose to purchase business class then damn straight we will access the lounge. I will take responsibility for my kids actions but adults also can be incredibly rude and disrespectful too. We all have choices, if you don’t like it, leave.

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Meng Zhao November 28, 2023 - 7:25 am

Children are children. In their ages, 10 minutes of running around and playing is as normal as it gets. This does not mean the parents are bad at parenting. The could have done a good job calming the children down, but the children are not gonna be adults. If people are spending the money on business class tickets, then they are entitled to access the lounge.

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