Ask Sally: Plea for child-free zones on planes

Sally SlaughterTaste for Travel’s agony aunt Sally Slaughter offers the world’s worst travel advice. Inquiries: info@tastefortravel.com.au 

Ok, Sally, now here’s the thing. I DO NOT like flying with children. I don’t like sitting in the same row, or the row behind, or in front, or even in the same cabin. Or being in the same airport. What is it about airports that is the ideal setting for a toddler to have a foaming-at-the-mouth, leg-kicking tantrum? What is it about aircraft that cause babies to wail non-stop, children to kick the seats in front of them, and the toddlers once again to screech and flail, because they didn’t get it all out of their system in the terminal?

I pay good money for my seat and I want some peace and quiet and lots of free drinks. A dirty movie would be nice, but that’s unlikely. 

There should be child-free zones on planes. Or drugs on board to knock them out. How about a naughty corner? What do you think? 

Yours sincerely, Walt Houston. 

Dear Walt,

As the mother of children who, when they were small, didn’t always travel in absolute silence, I can only nod my head sagely and say: Houston, we have a problem. Here’s some solutions. Several Asian airlines now have child-free cabins: Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia and Scoot. I’ll send you their contact details. Oh what the hell, just google it. The ScootinSilence cabin has banned under-12s from sitting in rows 21 to 25 to make room for passengers coughing up $SGD18 to have the privilege of sharing an armrest with someone who has legs long enough to reach the floor. For the extra bucks, passengers in ScootinSilence will stretch out with more leg room. However, it’s only five rows and a toddler’s screams can travel a lot further than that. Malaysia Airlines has banned children from First Class cabins, and Air Asia also has a quiet zone.  A survey was recently done in the US to ask frequent travellers if they wanted child-free cabins, and if so were they prepared to pay extra for a quiet zone, and 64 per cent said no.

The other solution is what I used to do: put in ear plugs, have a stiff drink and look the other way. It’s just an airplane ride, Walt. It’s not forever. I once sat next to a backpacker who had showered three continents ago, a man whose infected toenails stank out the whole row, and a woman who vomited continuously for hours. On 15-hour flights. Perhaps there should be zones for obnoxious adult passengers. So please, suck it up. Or you could take the drugs and knock yourself out. #FirstWorldProblem.

Graciously yours, Sally. 

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