Editorial: Just quietly, child-free zones are a good idea

Airlines have right to offer passengers seating choice

Some see the move as discrimination against children. Photo / Thinkstock
Some see the move as discrimination against children. Photo / Thinkstock

Air travel has many irritating features. But in any poll on these, people's dislike of sitting close to screeching or misbehaving children always rates near the top. Many will, therefore, welcome the introduction by Scoot, the budget arm of Singapore Airlines, of a child-free zone designed to allow passengers who pay a little extra the opportunity to fly "in peace and quiet".

Predictably enough, however, this move has also drawn its share of critics. Some see it as discrimination against children. Others talk of a deplorable lack of tolerance.

Hats off, therefore, to Rochelle Gribble, of parent advice website kiwifamilies.co.nz. She introduced a note of sanity into the debate when she acknowledged that airlines had the right to offer people choice. "I think if people want to make that choice, to my mind there's no reason why they shouldn't do that."

Air New Zealand and Qantas say they do not intend to introduce this option.

Noticeably, however, it is an increasingly popular practice for Asian carriers.

Scoot follows Air Asia X in excluding children under 12 from the first seven rows of its economy-class section on flights to and from Australia, while Malaysia Airlines does not allow infants in first-class.

Obviously, they are responding to a public demand. Other airlines provide options for passengers in other aspects of their seating, such as Air New Zealand's premium economy class which is designed for those who want to sleep more easily.

Providing choice for people who want to travel in peace would be no great stretch.

- NZ Herald

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