Wish your air travel came with a little less crying and kicking? Scoot Airlines is looking to make certain adults’ dream come true.
The Singaporean budget carrier is now offering a child-free zone, dubbed the “ScootinSilence” area, in which kids under 12 will not be allowed to sit. While the silence zone only lasts for five rows, numbers 21 to 25, it should provide some assurance to travelers who bristle at the prospect of being seated directly behind, in front of, or, worst of all, next to a noisy child.
Not surprisingly, mile-high peace and quiet isn’t free of charge. Scoot is providing the ScootinSilence area as a $14 upgrade, so you’ll have to have to ask yourself whether a one time no-baby guarantee is worth the price of a pre-flight meal, or simply a reusable pair of earplugs.
Scoot is just the latest airline to cater to travelers tired of young children disturbing their naps. The Daily News reports that Malaysia Airline created an adults-only economy deck in 2012, and this past February AirAsia X introduced a “Quiet Zone” on its jets reserved for “guests 12 and above.” A 2010 New York Times article reported that an increasing number of flyers were pushing for both child-free options or flights with family-only sections “in the wake of some high-profile tantrums.”
Those incidents included a 2009 lawsuit against Quantas by a woman who claimed she suffered hearing loss after sitting next to a screaming 3-year-old boy (Quantas settled); one year later, an entire family was removed from an AirTran flight prior to takeoff after the group’s young daughter began hitting her mother and refused to take her seat.
The same Times article cites a study by fair-comparison site Skyscanner which found that “59 percent of passengers support creating special sections on flights for families.” And while many of those who voted for segregating the children away from other passengers likely do not have children themselves, many parents also support putting families in their own part of the aircraft.
One of these parents is TIME Magazine’s Joel Stein, who once used his column to argue that keeping children separated from the rest of the passengers is good for both families and the general public:
I want airlines to reserve a few rows in the back of coach for people with small children. Because the only thing more stressful than hearing a screaming baby on a plane is being the parent of a screaming baby on a plane. Shove us all in the back, where we can suffer together.
Stein even offered some suggestions on how to make the families-only section especially attractive to parents:
Put some old toys in the overheads, sprinkle juice boxes around and cover the seats with plastic. Instead of a selection of bad romantic comedies, the baby section will always show Toy Story. Instead of a drink cart full of alcohol, it will be loaded with even more alcohol and Children’s Benadryl. Instead of Us Weekly magazines, there will be children’s books, which have the same word-to-picture ratio as Us Weekly. The blankets, of course, will be the exact same size as the ones in the rest of the plane.
Unfortunately for travelers convinced by Stein’s logic, child-free sections on US airlines are probably not happening for the foreseeable future. Janice Hough of Consumer Traveler lists four reasons why American carriers are leery to take the plunge, but perhaps their best reason is that it might not improve your flight as much as you think.
“Let’s be honest,” says Hough, “If it’s a question of quiet, often a well-behaved child is a major improvement over many adults.”