Here’s a side issue from my recent Lufthansa First Class flight from New York to Frankfurt. During dinner, we were asked (politely) if we could keep our conversation to a whisper. Was that a reasonable request?
A Dinner Conversation Silenced: Do Sleepers Have Priority In First Class?
Despite the 4:05 pm ET departure time, four of the seven passengers chose to go right to bed immediately after departure. I suppose that makes sense on two levels. First, if you are trying to acclimate to German time, 4:05 pm ET is 10:05 pm CET. Second, perhaps these travelers had a full day of work ahead of them and it made sense to try to get as much sleep as possible on what is a very short transatlantic crossing.
But I was still on west coast time (three hours earlier) and my friend is a night owl, so we had no desire to go right to sleep. Indeed, we wanted to enjoy a beautiful meal as part of the first class experience.
We spoke at a conversational level during dinner, which was a multi-course affair extending over two hours. We laughed here and there but were not loud…and I truly do mean that. Midway through dinner, a flight attendant approached us.
“I realize that you are having a lovely time dining and do not want to disturb you, but one of the passengers has asked if you would mind keeping your voices down so that he can sleep?”
The flight attendant was very diplomatic and this was clearly phrased as a request, not a demand. My friend did not particularly care for the request because we were not being loud, but we did reduce our conversation to a whisper (which still went on for another hour).
At one point, the purser came over and very graciously thanked us, while noting how much she appreciated that we were enjoying the onboard experience.
Personally, I was not offended by the request, but don’t view it as totally reasonable. It would be one thing if we were loud and boisterous, but we were just speaking. I realize that the majority in the cabin wished to sleep, but it was still bright outside and it was two hours into a flight that left in the afternoon. Perhaps if you just want to sleep, you should fly business class instead?
I focus on first class because the very set-up of first class (with room for two to dine together) invites conversation, but this discussion applies to business and economy class as well.
We limited our conversation to whispers and I eventually went to sleep as well…only to be awakened by the same passenger enjoying his breakfast before landing while I tried to sleep. Just as it is fairly unreasonable to abstain from eating so those around you can sleep, I think the same is true for conversation at a respectful volume level. Surely, I do not fly first class to sleep, but for the onboard experience. While I was happy to move to a whisper, it did put some pressure on us, which took away from the experience.
Is it reasonable to request that other first class passengers stop talking so you can sleep? Is it reasonable to refuse such a request?