Child-free zones are becoming a reality on some carriers

10/25/2016
There is only so much an airline can do with the limited space inside an aircraft cabin. There are different classes of service, different levels of seat comfort (on some), and now some carriers are segregating a portion of the cabin to keep small children out.

India-based budget carrier IndiGo is the latest airline to implement a separate area that restricts children below a certain age. Up to eight rows of seats on IndiGo's aircraft will be designated as child-free zones where children under the age of 12 will not be allowed to sit. The airline said in a statement to the press: "Keeping in mind the comfort and convenience of all passengers, row numbers one to four and 11 to 14 are generally kept as a Quiet Zone on IndiGo flights. These zones have been created for business travellers who prefer to use the quiet time to do their work."

The business flyer is the most sought-after passenger. Airlines build their premium products around these individuals who prefer to pay for comfort and often pay a premium for booking at the last minute. These so-called road warriors of the air can often be found filling business and first class seats and, when unable, they do their best to settle into to the best possible economy seats available. For airlines like IndiGo and Scoot Airlines of Singapore, the first to introduce child free zones, business flyers often find themselves among economy passengers who are more likely to travel with small children. Some passengers argue that children sometimes behave better than some adults (see our story on unruly passengers) and the practice of banning children from certain rows seems unfair and even discriminatory. The idea that keeping children away from certain rows will make a flight quieter seems to be more of a marketing scheme that a practical solution since a screaming child can probably be heard throughout an entire economy cabin. We've all been there.

Just like the debate over making mobile calls in flight heated up and cooled down over time, this issue too will likely pass. What is noteworthy though is the fact that airlines continue to sub-divide an already limited cabin space to accommodate a growing number of passenger classes. Witness the numerous boarding "zones" that airlines use to board an aircraft. In some cases, nearly half of the plane has boarded before the original main zones are called. You probably didn't realize how many numbers come before "1". Whether accommodations for child-free zones will be monetized down the line remains to be seen but one has to wonder: How many more "zones" can you create out of an over-sized cylinder with thinning seats and shrinking rows? Small children might be the ones to shout their objection to their situation, but be honest with yourself: You've probably felt like screaming too every now and then – just on the inside.