Thursday, September 27, 2012

Kid-free sections of airplanes are a good idea

Having spent many a transcontinental flight in the vicinity of screaming children, I must say that I heartily approve of this:
Passengers who don't want to sit near young children will soon get that option on Malaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia X.

The airline, which functions of the long-haul unit of Kuala Lumpur-based AirAsia, says it will set aside the first seven rows of coach for passengers aged 12 and older. AirAsia X is euphemistically calling the area the "Quiet Zone," saying it will debut in February.

The airline says on its website that it is introducing the seating section because "we know that sometimes all you need is some peace and quiet for a more pleasant journey with us."
AirAsia X's move follows one made earlier this year by its rival, Malaysian Airlines, to prohibit children from sections of some its aircraft. AirAsia X passengers will be able to reserve seats in the Quiet Zone for a small fee.

I'd really love to see other airlines adopt policies such as this, especially for their long-haul flights. These trips are long and uncomfortable enough, especially in economy class. Having to listen to a screaming infant or toddler while you're trying to sleep, watch a movie or just relax makes the experience that much more unbearable.

Creating kid-free zones on airplanes is not unfair or discriminatory, as long as families with small children are accomodated elsewhere on the aircraft. It's just another option, like seats with extra legroom, being offered for a fee to adult passengers. I'd even be okay with lowering the restricted age from 12 to 8 or even 6, because it's not the older kids that cause disturbances as much as it is the infants and toddlers.

Making transcontinental flights with small children is hard, and as a parent I give those families my sympathy. But the passengers that are forced to fly with them and be disturbed by them also deserve some sympathy. This is why creating child-free quiet zones on all long-haul flights is a good idea.

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