NO KIDDING Suffer little children

NO KIDDING Suffer little children

‘Child-free zones’ seem to be all the rage. Singapore’s playfully named Scoot Airlines is the latest to announce a nipperless section with the introduction of its ‘ScootinSilence’ zone: a brand that is almost as bad as ANA’s new ‘Vanilla Airlines.’

Announcing this new 41 seat cabin where, for a $15 premium, passengers will be denied the joys of flying with kids under 12, the airline’s CEO Campbell Wilson stated, “No offense to our young guests or those traveling with them – you will still have the rest of the aircraft.”

Maybe on Scoot, but this has not been the case on Malaysian Airlines since 2011 when the carrier banned infants from first class and then last year extended the purge with a no-kids zone in economy. Air AsiaX also introduced a 63-seat euphemistically designated ‘Quiet Zone’ earlier this year. CEO Azran Osman-Rani described it as, “A heavenly package for those who want peace of mind.” Yeah right, it’s still on an airplane isn’t it?

As yet no western airlines seem to have gone anti-ankle biter but my guess is that it’s only be a matter of time. At the Business Travel and Meetings Show in London last month, attendees were asked what annoyed them the most about air travel, and 74% of the thousand or so respondents, had kids at the top of the list. A distant second at 18% was free upgrades sitting next to them when they’d paid full fare (aka sour grapes) and 15% said they wanted more privacy when travelling in economy – to which the answer is surely ‘don’t fly in economy.’

There is no question that flying with very young children can be a harrowing experience for parents and fellow passengers alike. It has to be said though that, rather like smoke from smoking zones, which immediately bordered non-smoking seats, the piercing sound of a wailing infant is not something that can easily be contained in even a separate cabin. And there is no way that any airline is ever going to be dumb enough (I can’t believe I actually wrote that) to create a cabin just for families with young children which would be anything but heavenly; the ‘Purgatory Section’ comes to mind.

I am all in favor of infants being excluded from first class as, at the kind of fares one can pay on some routes, that is the very least that should come with the expensive territory. Elsewhere however kid-free zones might be creating more problems for airlines than they are solving, particularly on full flights that have more families than business travellers. By this I mean that when the only available seats are in the half empty ‘quiet zone’, does the carrier turn away the family booking or do they upgrade a few adults into ‘kinder-frei class’ to open up seats in the kiddie car?

But wait a minute! If they did that then the flier who actually paid the premium to get away from kids will then have to suffer his/her second biggest annoyance as in the free upgrade boasting about how he didn’t have to pay to get there. Not only that but chances are the upgraded adult will turn out to be a snorer, talker or (ultimate of ironies) one that wants to show you pictures of their kids.

In fact, in all my years of flying I can recall a dozen nightmare flights involving obnoxious, malodorous or overly chatty adults for every one that featured a noisome kid.

Oh well, nobody ever said this business was easy!

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