Childfree Travel

Hotels and resorts have long acknowledged the need for offering adults-only options for childfree travelers. But airlines have never seemed to pick up on this trend. Not until the past decade.

The growing demand for childfree flights has finally been heard, and certain airlines are offering options for travelers who’d like some peace and quiet. It’s a modest few today, but there is the possibility for more to come.

Scoot in Silence

Scoot flies between Singapore and Melbourne five times a week. It’s an 8 hour and 15-minute flight. “ScootinSilence” is a quiet zone in their 787 Dreamliners where children under 12 are not allowed. This 33-seat compartment sits between business and economy.

Malaysia Airlines

Malaysia Airlines banned babies from first class on their A380 and 747 aircraft in 2011. Though their site does not explicitly report a ban on babies in first class but when booking, a pop-up window notifies the purchaser that no bassinets are available in this section of the plane. This resulted from many complaints received about flyers spending money on first-class seating but being unable to sleep on account of crying infants.

AirAsia X Quiet Zone

AirAsia X flights offer a “Quiet Zone,” between rows 7 and 14 where children under 10 are not allowed to sit. This zone is said to have minimal noise with no disturbances and is located behind the Premium cabin.

IndiGo Quiet Zones

The most recent airline to join in on this trend was IndiGo. In 2016, IndiGo announced its “Quiet Zone” for business travelers where children under 12 are not allowed to sit. Additionally, children are not allowed to sit in emergency exit rows (1, 12, or 13) or rows with extra legroom.

Childfree Flights Developments and Possibilities for the Future

Though it’s a controversial topic when debated, there seems to be a significant number of people who would be willing to pay more if they could sit in a childfree travel zone, just as you would pay extra for an upgraded class or additional legroom.

In 2017, Airfarewatchdog’s Annual State of Travel Survey reported that 52% of respondents felt that families with young children (age 10 and under) should be required to sit in a separate section of the plane. More than 4,000 travelers were polled for this survey.

Although we may never see a completely childfree airline service, airlines are trying to get more creative with meeting their travelers’ needs for flying in peace. For example:

  • Etihad Airlines offers a “Flying Nanny” for long-haul flights to keep children entertained with face-painting, games and competitions.
  • Japan Airlines’ website features a “baby map” to inform people where young children (between 8 days an 2 years old) are sitting on a plane as they are booking their seats.
  • Richard Branson was quoted saying that he, “would love to introduce a kids’ class. It would be a separate cabin for kids with nannies to look after them.” (This has yet to become a reality though, due to the risks involved regarding how to reunite the parent with the child in the event of an emergency.)
  • Lufthansa’s design team, Technik, has developed “soundproof curtains” that prevent gallery noise from entering the First Class cabin; this development could be used for quiet zones in the future.
  • China Airlines had tried offering the “Family Couch” zone in one section of their 777 planes to create a more comfortable play zone and area to sleep, though this feature is currently suspended, due to disappointing sales results.
  • Thomson Airways developed booth style economy seats for planes where parents could sit face-to-face with their children around a table, similar to layouts found in trains.

Childfree flights will continue to be a hot button, however, awareness around the issue is increasing, with some select airlines making changes to accommodate childfree travelers.

In the meantime, while the childfree community waits for adult-only airlines to debut, remember to pack your noise-canceling headphones!

Brittany Ryan

You’ll find Brittany on Insta @thejetsetblonde and on her website

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