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Say “Yes” to Child Free Zones

Nowadays, parents like to take their kids travelling domestically and abroad for a holiday, but if babies and grown ups can spend the whole voyage in comfort that would be much better. The fear is that they may cry and cause dissatisfaction among other passengers. In recent years, some airlines set up child-free zones on their aircraft, like India's low-cost airline Indigo, Air Asia X, Malaysia Airlines and Scoot Airline. The passengers can pay extra money for an area which does not have children around. A survey conducted in 2017 by Airfare watchdog asked whether children should sit in separate zones. It found that over half of people thought that families who had children aged under 10 years old should sit in a designated spot. However, there have been no new announcements since IndiGo announced it in 2016. Most of the airlines do not follow up with a child-free zone due to the intense discussion about discrimination. Mark Matousek states in ‘Business Insider’ that child-free seating would be a PR nightmare. The status quo isn't perfect, but it's easier to keep a controversial system than to adopt a new one.

As a mother with a one-year-old baby, I support the child-free zone with my own personal experience. When my baby was four months old, I took him from London to China for a family visit and returned two months later. It was a near 10-hour journey. Before the trip, I was very anxious as a mother. I was not afraid that I could not handle my baby on the plane, but worried incase he would disturb others on the long haul flight. On the outbound flight, I knew that there was no one sat next to me, and I secretly rejoiced. The whole journey was very relaxing and there was no pressure at all to handle everything for the baby. In contrast, there was a man sitting next to me on the return flight and I became worried whether my neighbour was sympathetic. Personally, the child-free zone would not make me feel discriminated against but I would thank the airline instead. I would feel very embarrassed and afraid that my baby’s unexpected behaviour might cause trouble to others. I would support that airline to have this service. In fact, from another perspective, airlines giving the passengers the right to choose a child-free zone are also avoiding some embarrassment and possible disputes. It could be a win-win, Travellers with low tolerance for children don’t have to sit near them, while parents of children can breathe a little easier knowing they’re surrounded by travellers who can accept their kids’ behaviour." says Matthew H. Rouse, Ph.D., MSW, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute.

Maybe Airlines are able to change when implementing a child-free zone in another way. Compared to letting passengers pay more to choose a specific kid-free zone, it may be more reasonable to have designated seats for children between 0-6 years old. Japan Airlines did provide a new service that allows passengers to clearly see which seats of the same class flight have infants under two when purchasing tickets and assigning seats on the website. The passengers can choose the location as they wish. It gives passengers more right to know and choose. This tool is also a good option for parents with babies. You can choose to avoid a seat with other babies. After all, two babies crying “in stereo” may be too much for anybody.

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