Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the APNZ News Service office in Wellington.

Airlines shun kid-free zone

NZ carriers say they won't be following Singapore carrier offering adult-only space.

Air NZ says children are welcome in any cabin, but parents can sit in another class with their children travelling as unaccompanied minors. Photo / Getty Images
Air NZ says children are welcome in any cabin, but parents can sit in another class with their children travelling as unaccompanied minors. Photo / Getty Images

New Zealand airlines say they won't offer passengers the option to book seats away from noisy children after a move by a Singapore airline to offer passengers upgrades to ensure they are sitting in a child-free zone.

Scoot, the budget arm of Singapore Airlines, now offers customers flying to and from Australia the option to fly "in peace and quiet", for the cost of S$18 ($17.95).

If passengers opted for an upgrade to the ScootinSilence cabin, they would enjoy "exclusivity and privacy ... as under 12s will be someplace else".

The carrier, which flies to Sydney and the Gold Coast from Singapore, has banned pre-teens from the first seven rows of its economy-class section, allowing passengers an upgrade to the 41-seat quiet area.

Rochelle Gribble, the editor of parent advice website kiwifamilies.co.nz and a mother of three, said travelling with little ones could be "torturous".

"In some ways being grouped with others being tortured is quite nice because everyone knows what's going on."

She understood why some passengers would want to steer clear of children.

"Airlines would say they are offering people choice and it's their right to do that.

"I think if people want to make that choice, to my mind there's no reason why they shouldn't do that."

Parents often helped each other out, she said.

Airlines in New Zealand say they are not planning on following Scoot's move.

An Air New Zealand spokeswoman said children were "welcome in any cabin on our aircraft" and there were no plans to introduce a service where passengers could choose to sit away from children.

However, it does allow parents to escape their offspring by sitting in a different class - with their children travelling as unaccompanied minors.

A JetStar spokesman said there were no specific areas in its aircraft set aside for parents with children.

"Their seating will be assigned throughout the aircraft.

"If a customer asks at check-in to be seated away from young children we will endeavour to help with the request.

"There is no charge for this assistance."

A Qantas spokeswoman said it did not have plans to introduce child-free zones.

"Qantas offers advance seat selection for both domestic and international flights but does not enable customers to request to be seated separately from children and infants," she said.

Two other Asian carriers have already adopted childfree options.

AirAsia X has banned babies from some sections of its planes.

Malaysia Airlines does not allow infants in its first-class cabins in its Airbus A380 superjumbos and Boeing 747s after complaints of noisy children.

Child-free flying:


• Scoot, the budget arm of Singapore Airlines, now offers customers flying to and from Australia the option to fly in a child-free area.

• The carrier has banned pre-teens from the first seven rows of its economy-class section.

• This allows passengers to upgrade to the 41-seat quiet area.

• New Zealand airlines won't be doing the same, but some will try and accommodate requests to be seated away from young children.

- APNZ

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