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Child-free zones on a plane: yes or no?

Child kicking plane seat

Ahh the little seat kicker. Pic by CQ/Flickr

Have you ever sat in a plane while the kid behind kicks the back of your seat for hours? Or you’re trying to sleep on a 12-hour flight and a screaming child won’t allow for such activity?

There’s been a few announcements this week about airlines creating child-free ‘quiet’ zones. It’s a contentious subject.

I know what it’s like to sit through a night flight with a screaming toddler across the aisle going at it for 8 hours, her father just holding her and not bothering to go for a walk, read a book or give her anything to distract the tantrum. Even my noise-cancelling earphones couldn’t nullify the shrill.

Aside: a flight crew friend told me that if a child has sore ears, crying is the best thing they can do as it opens the earways. She consoles parents not to worry about it when the plane is descending.

But I know it’s stressful for parents. My niece once had a full 1-hour meltdown on a flight between the Cayman Islands and the UK. My brother tried his hardest to distract her at the back of the plane, to no avail. A few days later when he asked her about it she replied that two flights was ok but not 3.

I’ve seen parents in tears because they can’t console their child and are stressed about bothering passengers.

This is what Scoot Airline in Singapore are offering: pay an extra $18 to sit in rows 21-25 (of 41, and presumably separated from row 26).

Malaysia Airlines don’t let children under 12 sit on the upper deck on their flights to London.

Air Asia X provides a “quiet zone” for passengers aged 12 and over.

What do you think? Does this look like childless people being hoity toity or should families have the option of sitting together where no one will give them the hairy eyeball should their little go off?


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Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!