Life Relationships Ditching your kids in economy: Self-preservation or just selfish?

Ditching your kids in economy: Self-preservation or just selfish?

Kirstie Allsopp dumps her kids in economy class
“If kids get used to it (Club Class),what do they have to work towards?" Kirstie Allsopp Photo: Getty
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UK television presenter Kirstie Allsopp stirred up a parenting hornets nest this week when she revealed she flies business class while her kids are in economy.

The Location, Location, Location star said upgrading sons Bay, 12, and Oscar, 10, would be an “absurd waste of money”.

Allsopp, 46, who reportedly earns about $870,000 a year, says she’d rather spend money on the holiday than the flights themselves.

“When we fly as a family, the boys do fly separately from Ben and me if we’re not in economy together. Obviously this wasn’t the case when they were little but now they are big enough to sit separately, they do.”

The New Daily writer Kate Halfpenny thinks that’s fine. Colleague Mike Bruce does not.

You go, girl: Kate Halfpenny

Kirstie Allsopp, let me pass you some complimentary peanuts and toast you with a Bloody Mary as we sink into our welcoming side-by-side business-class seats.

I am so with you, and not just on this fantasy child-free flight, where you are and I are besties talking before wheels-up about London flats and what to wear to the Chiltern Firehouse.

Holidays with kids are draining. It’s the same old madness – just in a different place. Barking orders about sunscreen, finding lost thongs, being jumped on a million times in the pool, being woken at 4.30am by the Queensland sun.

So your kids need you to be your best you. No better way than to pre-energise in a giant chair next to only one person you love. It doubles as the only romantic time the holiday will provide, so milk it.

You’ll also be getting a gold star for responsible parenting. Kirstie’s kids are 10 and 12 – ages when it’s supremely important to teach them independence under subtly controlled conditions.

Sticking your darlings in a different part of a plane is a fabulous way to kick that off. They’re in a metal tube miles above the ground. They can’t get on or off. Nobody can kidnap them. Patrolling professionals are keeping a constant eye on them.

The concept of time away with the family is self-evident, but some parents interpret this as meaning they have to spend every second with the kids or it’s dereliction of duty. Knock yourself out. Thing is, do the kids really want to spend unbroken time with you?

By the time they’re at the pointy end of primary school, if not the pointy end of the A380, they can entertain themselves, order a soft drink, open their own sultanas. Being with a brother or sister without the old cheeses is a cool, grown-up novelty.

It’s also better for other passengers. Unless you’re travelling with my friend Dolly, who is an excellent plane conversationalist, the rule is shut up and read your book or watch your movie. Nobody wants to hear you banging on to your kids about the itinerary or changing colours in Uno.

Kids don’t need business class to make their Insta feed more aspirational. They just want a window seat and things to eat and do. Exclusive flying is wasted on them – save your money to do fun stuff on the actual holiday.

Confession time: I always sat with my kids when they were little. I was a sanctimonious best-in-show working mother who has now wised up. In my next life, children, I’m ditching you and the martyr mantle and we’ll all be better for it.

You’re a disgrace: Mike Bruce

Let me start by saying that I have never met a five-star hotel or a business-class seat I have not liked. They are wonderful and glorious things to be exploited wherever possible.

And yet, I could never bring myself to dump my children in economy class while I sat up the pointy end.

That’s because I see air travel as a kind of golden time with children – a rare opportunity in these harried, tech-drenched times of no escape where your kids are cemented into one spot, where you can commune with them without major distraction.

woman makes her kids fly economy
Kirstie Allsopp with sons Bay (left) and Oscar in 2015. Photo: Getty

And, after all, what is the point of spending money on travel or family holidays if you can’t sit with the people who are the very reason you’re actually going on holiday?

Then there is the simple reason that I am their parent – not the bewildered and hapless souls sitting around them.

Why should people who have paid good money for an airline ticket – only to have to pay for their own booze – also have to put up with my children while I slip down oysters and sip Champagne up the front of the plane?

But when it concerns someone like Kirstie Allsopp, it comes as no surprise. Allsopp, you see, is the eldest daughter of Charles Allsopp, aka 6th Baron Hidlip and a former chairman of Christie’s and as such she can rightfully use the title, The Honourable Kirstie Allsopp.

As is the wont of toffs and the aristocracy, farming out the unpleasant and unglamorous parts of parenting to other people – like the serfs who inhabit economy class – comes as second nature. It’s in their DNA to let other people deal with the dull nitty gritty while they enjoy the lovely bits like movie premieres and skiing in St Anton.

Allsopp declared it was an “absurd waste of money” for her children to fly Club Class … but not for her and her husband to do so, clearly.

No. Sorry, The Honourable Kirstie Allsopp, but dumping the kids down the back while you enjoy Club Class is anything but Honourable.

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