Budget airline offers peaceful flying with child-free zones
BALANCING the needs of customers who want a peaceful trip with those of harried parents has become a major challenge for airlines.
Now Singapore Airlines's budget carrier Scoot has unveiled a child-free zone for passengers prepared to pay extra, following in the footsteps of AirAsia X and Malaysian Airlines, who also segregate kids.
Segregating an aircraft cabin used to be common in the days of smoking sections, which have been all but eradicated from global commercial aviation in the past decade. Like smoke, a child's screams waft over several rows, so Scoot and AirAsia X separate their child-free zones from the rest of the cabin with toilet blocks and Malaysian puts them on a separate floor.
Seat-kicking and unruly children came ahead of drunken passengers, rude cabin crew, and lecherous neighbours as on-board annoyances in a recent survey by British financial services comparison website Gocompare.
Respondents said they'd be prepared to add €60 to the cost of a return flight if they could sit in child-free zones. A child's scream can be as loud as 105 decibels, louder than a chainsaw, according to the American Tinnitus Association.
"People love their own kids, but they might not necessarily love someone else's to the same extent," said Scoot chief executive officer Campbell Wilson. "Allowing someone the option of travelling with the assurance of not having young children around is simply one of the many choices you have."
His airline charges an extra SG$11.25 (€6.35) for the 41 economy-class seats directly behind business class with three inches of extra legroom, where children under 12 aren't allowed.
Carriers who've introduced child-free zones say they haven't received significant negative feedback. But others are trying to be more accommodating. Etihad has hired consultants from a UK childcare training centre to teach child psychology and sociology to about 500 cabin crew designated as "flying nannies" on the Middle-East carrier's long-haul flights, a free service available in all classes. (Additional reporting by Bloomberg)