Malaysia Airlines Creates Kid-Free Zones

Posted on April 13, 2012


“So, how was your flight?”

“Aw, I was trapped next to this screaming baby the whole time.  I didn’t get any sleep, couldn’t focus on my book or hear the movie, and my right ear is still ringing.”

“Bad luck, huh?  But hey, what can you do?”

On most airlines, nothing.  But Malaysia Airlines has felt your pain, and done something about it.  On its new double-decker A380 planes, the entire upper deck of economy-class seats will be off-limits to kids under age 12.  The airline had already banned babies in first class on its 747s.  My reaction:  yesssss!!!

Some parents may feel affronted, but I have done quite a lot of long-haul flying, and children who shriek, run up and down the aisles, or constantly kick the back of the seats have long been one of my top travel peeves.  I understand that a screaming baby can’t help himself, nor can his mother force him to stop crying, but that does not make it any easier to be trapped next to an ear-splitting, disruptive nightmare for hours on end.  For older children who misbehave, there really is no excuse.  Parents should prepare their kids for the flight by telling them in advance what to expect and how to behave, then enforce that.  But, alas.  Many parents do no such thing.  I am reminded of an especially memorable flight where a three-year-old kicked my seat for the entire… eight… hours.  Her mother, when this was (repeatedly)  pointed out, would simply say, “Oh, sweetie, don’t do that,” and then proceed to ignore the child while the child ignored her equally, and carried bravely on, drumming away with her little feet.  The cuteness factor was a bit frayed by about the second or third hour, and absolutely shredded by the end of the flight.  And parents wonder why we don’t love their children the way they do.

And babies in first class?  Whatever for?  In my mind, first class exists for those who are willing to pay big bucks for business reasons: they need to work on a presentation, strategize with a business partner, or arrive alert for a meeting upon landing.  I do not begrudge those who pay for first class just to have a nicer flying experience, or who receive free upgrades, but I do begrudge bringing along any behavior that destroys the subdued atmosphere for paying business travelers.  This applies equally to noisy drunks and noisy babies.  And apparently, I am not the only one who feels this way.  The whole impetus for Malaysia Airlines’ decision was noise complaints from their customers, and they are responding accordingly.

But of course… now they are receiving complaints that they are not “family-friendly.”  In light of those accusations, I wonder:  how many parents will choose the child-free zone when they are traveling without their children?  Quite a few, I would wager.

Originally published at the Color of Lila