Singapore Airlines announced that it has created a child-free zone on its budget carrier Scoot Airlines’ planes and that passengers can “upgrade” to this newly dubbed “ScootinSilence” area – reserved for travelers 12 and above – for about $14.
Scoot is the latest airline to introduces a child-free zone on its flights, following in the flight path of rival Air Asia (based in Malaysia), which created a “Quiet Zone” on its long-haul intra-Asia flights in February, and international carrier Malaysia Airlines, which banned babies under the age of two from its A380 and 747 first class cabins back in 2012.
Scoot operates 777-200 aircraft on mid- and long-haul routes. The ScootinSilence zone will be in a mini-cabin right behind business class, with 41 seats in rows 21-25. In addition to the hopefully more peaceful flight, the seats will also have 35 inches in pitch (about 4 more inches of legroom), so you’re getting a little added physical comfort as well.
Personally, I don’t mind kids on planes. Partly that’s because I’m usually towards the front of the plane, where there tend to be fewer of them, and they tend to be pretty well behaved. Also, kids cry. It’s just a fact of life, and parents are usually good about trying to quiet them down quickly on airplanes so as not to disturb the other passengers – so I think we should cut parents some slack when traveling with their kids. And if a normal noise level is just too much for you, do what I do and get a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones like the Bose QC15 Headphones I bring everywhere with me.
However, survey after survey seems to support the creation of these zones by a majority of travelers. Last year, a Telegraph survey found that nearly 70% of respondents would favor a child-free zone on flights, and just last month, website GoCompare.com released the results of a survey on the biggest in-flight annoyances and misbehaving children ranked #1 and crying children ranked #2 – above drunk passengers, a rude cabin crew, and a chatty neighbor among other irritations. Personally, I say forget the crying kids – I’d love an airline that required you to get a rationality check from your doctor before letting you board.
We’ve all had experiences where parents aren’t doing anything and a child is just running wild on a plane or screaming their head off. I can understand how a screaming child (or one kicking the back of your seat) can get very frustrating very quickly. Especially if you’re on a long-haul flight and your prospects of getting any rest fly out the window, so I do think it’s interesting that more airlines are giving passengers the chance to opt out of that experience.
That said, I’m not entirely sure I’d pay to sit in a quiet zone. Airplanes are pretty compact, enclosed spaces, so there’s no telling how much sound would carry from other parts of the aircraft to the child-free zone.
However, I would consider it for this price and the fact that the seats in the zone are in a separate mini-cabin up front (from what I can see in these Jaunted pics) and you get more legroom. Because no matter how you like it, ancillary fees are becoming a bigger and bigger part of the flying experience these days, and while I am disappointed when airlines raise them on certain amenities – like when all the major US legacy carriers raised their ticket change fees to $200 this spring – I don’t mind paying when it’s something optional, and you actually get something for your money.
What I’m most interested in is whether any US airlines will follow the trend and start testing out child-free rows or even whole flights, though I don’t know of any that are planning it at the moment.
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