Child-free Zones on Planes

One airline plans to offer what it says is a solution to travellers stressed by screaminig children – Child-free Zones.

Airline carrier Air Asia says from February 2013 it will provide a “quiet zone” for passengers aged 12 and over at no extra cost.

Their decision follows a 2012 survey that claimed a majority of British travellers supported child-free flights. Malaysian Airlines already ban children from top deck of their A380 aircraft and WestJet announced a plan to pack children in boxes in cargo hold (turns out to be an April fool!).

Separated from the rest of the cabin by toilets and bulkheads, seven rows of economy class seats should be immune from the sound of infant tantrums, Air Asia claims.

For the childless and the easily irritable, it may be a blessed relief. Equally, many parents will surely be disgruntled at the suggestion they should be segregated from other passengers like second-class citizens.

Typically, UK train operators which provide “quiet coaches” instruct commuters not to use their phones and ensure music devices aren’t heard by other passengers – but no mention is made of infant noise pollution.

A poll by Tripadvisor in August found that over a third of Britons would be prepared to pay extra to travel by air without the presence of children.

In smaller aircraft, with different layouts to those used by Air Asia and Malaysia Airlines, screening off the sound of crying children will not always be practical. Adult-only flights would mean reducing the number of available customers, and thus have a negative impact on profitability.

Arguably, part of the deal when travelling in economy class or on low-cost carriers is that you have to put up with other people’s irritating habits in extremely close quarters.

Simon Calder, travel editor of the Independent, has taken his two daughters around the world with him. He believes families who pay for their tickets should not be discriminated against.

“I very, very much think that people need to be tolerant,” he says. “People who have a problem with children on flights need to get over it.

“If they don’t like it, I have two words for them – ear plugs. We’re living in the 21st Century where people have iPods.”

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