If there’s one subject that generates the most noise from airline passengers, it’s sitting near a crying baby or an overexcited child on the plane, previous surveys suggest.
Whether you are quick to whip out your heavy-duty earplugs at the first sign of a crying baby or love to see a carefree child wandering up and down the aisle, a few airlines are betting on the fact that if they introduce child-free zones, there’ll always be a group of people willing to take the seats – and even pay for the privilege of a little peace and quiet.
Long-haul budget airline, AirAsia X is following Malaysia Airlines’ lead with plans to introduce a child-free “quiet zone” on board its fleet of A330 jets.
The first seven rows in economy behind its premium class – rows 7 to 14 – will be designated as the new “quiet zone’” on board flights starting in February 2013, AirAsia X said. This section is separated from the rest of economy by a galley.
According to the airline, passengers travelling with children aged 12 or under will not be allowed in the “quiet zone,” and passengers will be asked to keep noise to a minimum.
But there are no guarantees that the section will stay child-free in circumstances where the airline sees it “necessary for operational safety or security reasons” to seat a small child or infant in the quiet zone, according to a clause on its website.
While there is no extra charge for these seats, passengers will have to pay the airline’s standard RM35 (£7) seat allocation fee to secure a seat in this section of the plane. The optional RM 100 (£20) fee for its ‘hot seats’ offering extra legroom will also still apply.
AirAsia X will be hoping it can convert passengers who try to fly as cheaply as possible and wouldn’t ordinarily pay extra to allocate a seat – giving its non-ticket revenues a further boost.
Like other budget airlines, AirAsia X’s philosophy is to get bums on seats by providing a basic A to B service, and then selling passengers choice.
Airlines are increasingly charging optional fees for seating options and finding creative ways to add new revenue streams – a move that critics argue is increasing the costs associated with flying.
Airlines add fees to avoid sitting next to strangers
AirAsia X now gives economy passengers the option of paying up to RMB50 (£11) in advance to request unoccupied seats beside them. If the empty seats have been sold by the time of departure, the airline automatically refunds the fee.
And over in Europe, Spanish airline Vueling gives economy passengers the chance to put some space between them and their fellow passenger by blocking out the middle seat – for a €60 (£47) fee on domestic flights or €70 (£55) on international legs. The airline only allows up to four seats per flight to be unoccupied.
While KLM intra-European Business Class flights have a guaranteed unoccupied middle seat, ensuring that their premium passengers can have some privacy either in a window or aisle seat.