We’re no strangers to the subject of children on airplanes, and it turns out you’re not alone if you read our piece on child-free travel and wished an airline would actually take action.
Two years ago, a number of travel surveys indicated that the majority of travelers would be in favor of instituting families-only sections on planes. Perhaps unsurprisingly, those without kids themselves were far more in favor of the idea than parents.
Now, multiple airlines are taking heed of those responses. AirAsia has begun offering an adults-only “Quiet Zone” on long flights. The airline, which is based in Malaysia and has hubs in Thailand and Indonesia, will reserve the first seven rows of its economy class section for passengers 12 and older. There won’t be an extra charge to sit in the quiet zone, though passengers will still have to pay the regular fee the airline charges for seats with extra legroom. And one of its competitors, Malaysia Airlines, has banned infants from first-class on its Boeing 747s and Airbus A380s and does not allow anyone under the age of 12 to access the top deck of the A380.
According to The Economist, “child-o-phobic” fliers will now be forced to make some hard decisions: “It there’s only a middle seat left in the Quiet Zone, is it better to reserve, and be safe from kicking, mewling and nappies, or to go where few travelers dare and sit with the scamps in the back?”
Additionally, airlines may be promising something they can’t deliver, says AirfareWatchdog.com founder George Hobica. As he pointed out to NBC, “Logistically, it’s a nightmare for an airline to allocate certain seats for certain people. The last time they had to do this was back when there were smoking and non-smoking sections.”
On top of the logistical difficulties, even in the child-free zone, you could still be just a row away from a squealing child. To address this concern, AirAsia has positioned its Quiet Zone apart from the rest of coach, separated by lavatories and bulkheads. As Henry Harteveldt, co-founder of the Atmosphere Research Group, points out, this wouldn’t be a viable option on most American airlines, whose planes consist of a single, continuous cabin.
What do you think about separating those with children from those without children? Are you part of the majority that would favor child-free travel, or would it cause unnecessary complications?