Someone at Japan Airlines (JAL) is a genius. I know there are all sorts of awards airlines can win for their service levels, but if there’s such a thing as an Airline Academy of Oscars, this manager at JAL is a shoo-in for a golden statuette.
JAL, you see, has just introduced a new feature that should now become as mandatory for air travellers se security searches, putting on your seat belt and stowing your tray, putting up your window blinds and making sure your seat is in the upright position.
It’s genius. Brilliant. One of those things that make you think why didn’t they do that before. And you can’t live without it now that it’s in place.
So, you’re planning a trip and you’ve selected the departure and destination airports and settled on the date. The next window in the online booking process asks you to select your seat. Nothing unusual so far, I can hear you say.
But then — genius.
When you look at the graphic map of the plane, not only can you see the occupied seats, an icon pops up when there’s a child or infant booked there. This is brilliant. I’m not anti-children by any means, it’s just that when I’m flying long haul, I want to be as far away from any screaming child as possible. And this seating chart enables travellers to do just that.
Could every other airline please follow suit as quickly as possible? Please.
I travel a lot by air — I’d hate to think of what my carbon footprint is like — and even when I’m in queue at the gate before boarding, I make a mental note of what families travelling with young children step forward for that pre-boarding announcement.
When I board the plane, I look at little children and mentally compare their seat with my assigned row and seat. The further the better.
Right now, sitting on a plane is like bingo. You just don’t know who is going to sit where, and whether there’s a child who will scream, wail and shout throughout the flight.
Personally, I think all children — I think 14 is an appropriate limit — should be banned from Business and First Class areas of a plane.
Come on, let’s face it, if you’re paying high prices and want to enjoy the lie-flat seats with the big screen and personal service, do you really want the flight to be interrupted by a screaming toddler whose minder is embarrassed by their behaviour and the father has simply switched off, tuned out and is instead watching the latest releases on the in-flight entertainment system.
You just don’t know who is going to sit where, and whether there’s a child who will scream, wail and shout throughout the flight
I’d even go so far as to suggest that some flights — the overnight red eyes — should be child-free flights. Or maybe airlines should look at child-free zones on aircraft, you know, like an adult-only section, where there’s little risk of being doused in fruit juice, hit by a tossed teddy or having your seat back kicked for hours on end by a naughty child.
Imagine how air travel would be transformed if snorers were required to indicate where they’re sitting. I think the feature could be refined further if robbers of armrests were required to indicate their position on the seating plan. And there should be a button added for those who push their economy seats all the way back and refuse to raise them even when the meals are being served.
What about a button for those who have their own earbuds and blast their music so loud everyone can hear. Brilliant. This has revolutionised passenger comfort.