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Squalling children are a fact of travel life. Or at least they have been until recently.
Malaysia Airlines, which became a member of the oneworld alliance on February 1, last year imposed an outright ban on infants in some of its first-class cabins.
And last week, Asian discount carrier AirAsia began offering customers the option of choosing a seat in a child-free “quiet zone” on its A330-300 flights within the Asia-Pacific region.
For the privilege of sitting in the quiet zone, which also features special mood lighting and separate lavatories, flyers will pay between $11 and $36, the surcharges the airline normally imposes to choose a specific seat or book a seat with extra legroom.
Could this be the beginning of an industry-wide trend?
With planes flying fuller than ever — average load factors top 80 percent year-round for most airlines — the claustrophobia quotient is sky high. Which means that many flyers likely would be more than willing to spend a bit more to avoid at least one inflight irritant.
The economics are compelling as well. Designating a special kid-free zone and charging extra for access to it aligns perfectly with the airlines’ relentless search for new sources of revenue.
If the surcharge is a reasonable one, such quiet zones would appear to be a win-win.
Reader Reality Check
Is it fair and reasonable to charge travelers more to sit apart from children?
Would you pay more for the extra peace and quiet?
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