If you are a parent who feels offended when somebody criticises your “irritating” and “annoying” children, stop right here.
But if you’re an airline that likes to have happy customers willing to pay for peace and quite, then I hope you do listen.
I recently had one of my worst flights ever, thanks to “those” little children.
It was after a long working day during Ramadan, and I had gone without a proper meal all day, even iftar. All I had was a sandwich a few hours before boarding my flight around 10pm.
My head was heavy and as I felt squeezed in the middle seat, I couldn’t help but cast an envious eye on children who had been allocated window seats. I normally always ask for a window seat but this time around, I had agreed to any seat as I was desperate and needed to travel on that day in particular. I had bought my ticket weeks earlier but it seems such a useless move during peak season. Though I arrived three hours ahead of the flight, the plane was full already as it was overbooked.
The rule of first-come, first-serve was applied. I tried to sleep during the trip, but I was woken by the sound of crying children, both to my left and right. Sometimes I wonder if seating arrangements are made to make the lives of as many passengers miserable as possible.
It’s funny how you never see advertisement with little children and infants in it. Once, I saw an ad with a coupld of children playing computer games, but your never see adverts with children screaming so loud that they could wake the dead. That stuff is only for sit-coms.
Children should be a special consideration for airlines. No, let me correct myself, customers on long flight who are already forced to sit shoulder to shoulder with complete strangers should not also be forced to give up their right to fall asleep. I would like to think that it is not overly that difficult for airlines to allocate certain cabins for families with children and infants, but that’s a pipe dream.
Providing special accomadations and sitting to customers who cannot pay for it is not in any airlines business model. Staffing too would be an issue. Cabin crew really did not choose this career to take care of your screaming brat — and only hazard pay for those crew members willing to work the kidzone would prevent staff retention from taking a nose dive.
But an adults-only cabin, that would be something that many adults would certainly be willing to pay for. The downside — for customers, not the airlines — is that a seat in ‘Premium Economy’ is slightly more expensive than regular economy. For example, the cost of a Premium Economy return ticket on Qantas from Melbourne to Dubai would be $4,236 (Dh15,558) compared to $1,800 for a regular Economy seat and $8,400 for Business.
A few years ago, there was an article in "Daily Mail" that urged the introduction of adult-only flights to keep business-class travellers happy. The report urged major airlines to consider child-free flights or zones. The "Economist" did a survey during the time and concluded that 74 per cent of 1,000 business travellers polled consider children the most annoying thing about business-class travel.
I can add that they can be most irritating in Economy as well. Already, major carriers — Air Canada, Air France, Qantas, Lufthansa and Cathy Pacific, among them — have introduced a fourth cabin on certain flights. However, none of the carriers in this region have introduced the concept... yet.
Until then, I am searching for another airline which grants one the right to rest in peace and quiet — far from the deafening cries of infants.