Should There Be Child-Free Flights?
November 18, 2010
by Kate Goodin
What happened to the days when traveling was glamourous? These days, between the crushing costs, mile-long lines at security, and overpriced (not to mention totally crappy) food, flying leaves much to be desired.
But for some passengers, it's not the food or lines that make flying awful: it's being seated next to a wailing baby or unruly child. According to The New York Times, a majority of passengers now advocate a families-only section on airplanes. Almost 20% would even support child-free flights. A Boston man who started a Facebook group called Airlines Should Have Kid-Free Flights said, in the Times article, that (predictably) he would be willing to pay extra for child-free flights.
I've blogged about whether or not child-free spaces are okay before, and about a restaurant in North Carolina that banned screaming children. And flying and families also haven't exactly been mixing well in the news lately:
- A woman sued Australian airline Qantas because a three-year-old seated next to her allegedly screamed so loud in the woman's ear the tot caused her bleeding and hearing loss.
- A Southwest Airlines flight attendant took a baby away from her parents after she witnessed the mother slap the child midair.
- A family recently started a blog called "Alaska Airlines Hates Families". Their story: A few minutes before departure, the couple's son had a poop blowout, and, with no place to change on the plane, the mother quickly rushed to a restroom to change him. When they got back to board the plane, however, their tickets had been given to standby passengers -- leaving them stranded and forced pay more than $1,000 to get home. Alaska Airlines eventually reimbursed the family, but only after they received media attention and started the pointedly-titled blog.
So, are child-free flights, or family-only sections, the answer? It seems unfair to limit flight options for parents who do make every effort to keep their kids entertained and happy on a long flight to punish those who don’t (and let’s face it – babies can cry uncontrollably and even well-behaved kids sometimes lose it). On the other hand, though, in a family-only section, parents wouldn't have to worry about dirty looks or pointed sighs from fellow passengers.
Would you like to have a families section on flights? Would you pay extra for a child-free flight when traveling sans kids?