We can all agree that flying nowadays can often be a pretty terrible experience — basically steerage, but with worse customer service. But y’know what can make it about a bajillion times worse? Flying with kids. Look, some of us over here at Jet Set are parents too (including this author, as well Food and Travel Editor Alesandra Dubin... and each of us has a set of traveling twin toddlers!) so we get it. We're not haters — rather, we know from experience it's hard, and it involves doing what you have to do.
And it doesn’t make any difference if you’re a celeb — toddlers are gonna be toddlers, fame and status be damned. As Ryan Reynolds once said, “I would rather drink a piping hot bowl of liquid rabies than get on a plane with my two children.”
But there is a certain cadre of celebs that has figured out the ultimate solution: They just separate themselves from their kids by sticking them in coach. Sweet, sweet freedom! Honestly, we find the whole idea pretty inspirational, and when our kids are old enough to hang — and assuming we can earn enough miles and points to make it feasible — we're following suit.
Here are five famous folks who have parked themselves in first and sent their kids to sit in back with the commoners... and one who does the exact opposite.
1. Ivana Trump
In a recent interview with CBS News, Ivana explained one of the ways she tried to keep her kids grounded. "I would take the kids to Europe for two months — June and July. And they would fly economy, and I would fly first class. Ivanka said, 'Can I be upgraded?' I said, 'When you can afford it, you get upgraded.'" (Such a sick burn — and it all worked out for Ivanka anyway.)
2. Gordon Ramsay
The celebrity chef made major waves when he told The Telegraph about his family's seating arrangement. "[The kids] don’t sit with us in first class," Gordon said. "They haven’t worked anywhere near hard enough to afford that. At that age, at that size, you’re telling me they need to sit in first class? No, they do not. We’re really strict on that." And he wasn’t mincing words: “I turn left with Tana and they turn right and I say to the chief stewardess, ‘Make sure those little f---ers don’t come anywhere near us — I want to sleep on this plane.'"
3. Kourtney Kardashian
Back in 2010, a commenter on People.com wrote, “[I saw] you on a flight from L.A. to Chicago recently — where you sent your beautiful Mason to fly with the masses in coach class, while you and your mother flew comfortably and quietly in first class.” The eldest Kardashian replied, “I did have a nanny traveling with us on this trip. Mason was a little bored with being in the same spot with us for four hours and wanted a change of scenery, so we had him hang out with the nanny for 10 minutes.” The truth probably falls somewhere in the middle, but either way, we know anecdotally she keeps the help back in coach!
4. Maria Shriver
In his book Unusually Stupid Celebrities (which has a terribly unkind name we don't mean to condone), Ross Petras reports that Maria Shriver was flying first class while her baby and nanny were in coach. “When the Shriver baby started wailing and crying and in general disturbing the other coach passengers, the nanny went forward to find Maria in first class, hoping she, as the mother, could help calm the squalling infant. Maria’s response? ‘She’s your problem.’”
5. Jean-Claude Van Damme
On a flight out of Cannes, the muscles from Brussels booked himself in first class — and sent his wife and kids back to business. But once they were air-bound, Jean-Claude changed his tune. “Van Damme loudly demanded that his family be permitted to join him in first class,” writes Petras. “His reason? Should the airplane crash, he wished to be able to ‘hold hands’ with them.” The crew eventually compromised and let one of the Van Damme kids up front.
And then for honorable mention, there's...
On the flip side, Jessica Alba feels that her kids are the only ones who deserve to fly in the lap of luxury. On a flight from JFK to LAX, her children, Honor and Haven, flew first alongside their nanny while Jessica and husband Cash Warren slummed it in coach. They weren’t too far away though — the celeb couple sat in the first row of coach and interacted with their kids regularly. So apologies, Jessica — no, you don't belong on this list. You belong on a different list, but we're not sure there are enough (any?) other celebs with the same travel philosophy to make a story out of that one.
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