Child-free zones on planes?

Silence for child-free zones

Shh this is a silent, child-free zone

In April Malaysia Airlines announced the launch of child-free zones on the upper-decks of its Airbus A380 planes and now Air Asia has said that as of February 2013 the first seven rows of its economy cabin will be offered as child-free zones at no additional cost.

Malaysia Airlines and Air Asia have taken this line of action in an attempt to satisfy the needs of its passengers, especially the childless ones, who consider noisy infants an unwelcome nuisance. Across the US and the UK this move has been met with mixed feelings.

In the US and the UK a demand for child-free zones has been recognised among both families and travellers who do not have children. Some parents said they would consider child-free zones a welcome relief from the constant worry that their children are disturbing other travellers, while those travelling without children believe it would greatly improve their travel experience. In fact, according to a TripAdvisor survey, â…“ of Britons said they would be willing to pay extra to sit in a child-free zone. However, not everyone is of the same mind.

Some parents and family-rights activists believe the implementation of child-free zones would give travelling families the status of second-class citizens as these zones would segregate them from other travellers. In the US, there is even a fear that creating child-free zones on domestic airlines could result in countless lawsuits. Moreover, other travellers don’t consider child-free zones a real solution to a noisy flight for two reasons:

1) An infant can have some powerful lungs, which means noise buffers would not guarantee silence.

2) What about snorers or people who play their music too loudly? Will airlines create special zones for them too?

Finally, American and British airline companies claim the creation of child-free zones would be a logistical nightmare and would put their profitability at risk. Most domestic airlines only have one long, continuous economy cabin, which means they would have to pay to install noise buffers and would in turn have to increase airline fares to cover the costs. Furthermore, as some sections would be reserved for older travellers they run the risk of sending planes up that aren’t full when a family with children could have occupied those empty seats.

As (expecting) parents we want to know what you think. Are child-free zones an unjust form of segregation? Or should American and British airlines jump on the bandwagon and invest in child-free zones for their travellers? What do you want?

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