Do Planes Need A No-Child Zone?

Do Planes Need A No-Child Zone?

No matter how often you remind yourself to be tolerant, screaming kids don’t make for a pleasant long-haul flight. So I suspect lots of people will be keen on a new plan from Malaysia Airlines to offer a child-free cabin on A380 services.

Picture by Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Australian Business Traveller reports that 70 upstairs economy seats on Malaysia Airlines’ forthcoming A380 services will be reserved for “business travellers”, and children under 12 won’t be allowed. There’s also a larger economy section downstairs with no such rules, enabling parents with kids to fly with the airline if they wish.

This seems a sensible idea to me: it’s less stressful for solo travellers and also for parents, since they’ll presumably get fewer death stares and complaints. That said, I imagine it might eventually become something airlines charge a premium for. And aspiring travellers will have to wait until September for the service to hit Australia. Would you be tempted?

Malaysia Airlines declares kid-free zone on Airbus A380 [Australian Business Traveller]


  • 100% for this idea, ive never been on a long haul flight but a few 2-3hour length ones and theres always one screaming kid whose parents always seem to be practicing the “ignore him and he will stop” parenting method, NEVER works

    you can tell just from the fact they have called this a “business travellers” section they are going to charge extra for it , otherwise it would just be called the kid free zone, first come first served seating no kids allowed, lets be honest we are all going to pay the extra anyway

    • Really? This is a problem that people spend time worrying about? I’ve had about 30 long haul flights over the last fifteen years, and can’t remember being bothered for more than a few minutes by a crying child. In fact, I distinctly remember a young couple settling in with their 9 month old in front of me on a Melbourne > SF flight and forgetting there was a 9 month old in front of me when I got up to disembark.

      I’m really tired of the “centre of the universe” types complaining that we’re messing with their enjoyment of life when they’re not really living beings as much as life support systems for whining.

      Not to burst your carefully constructed arguments, but you do know that we all start off as children right? Some of us even make it to full maturity twenty or so years after birth. Put your noise-cancelling headphones on and STFU.

      • I have been on about 10 in my life and about half of those have been utter tourture due to children on board. Its not being self centered as there were plenty of people on the flight being annoyed so collectivly it was a crap situation. In one example the parents were letting their children play video games for 12 hours in a row standing on their seat jumping up and down and yelling and blabbering on to noone in particular abot the video game they were playing, Their parents were just ignoring their kid watching TV with headphone on and only told them to be quite once which lasted about 5 minutes. I had good ear plugs in but could still hear the stupid little bastards.

        BTW Noise canceling doesn’t work for squealing children. They are design for background noise and not high pitched shrieking.

        Yeah we were all children….. what is your point ? . Pretty sure if i did this as i kid i would have been smacked down and told to STFU. The problem is that people let their kids get away with all sorts of stuff which yes interfiers with societys expectation of piece and quiet. Imagine how these spoilt brats are going to grow up and what that will do to our society as a whole.

        I’d gladly pay an additional 10-20% to be placed in a child free and fat person free zone. If i’m paying for a service i should be able to chose who i have to put up with. Business class is far too expensive to be worth it.

  • as a parent just recently traveled long-haul (ADL-SIN-CPH) with a 2 1/2 yr old, I too would like a kid free zone. 😉

    Also a whinge free zone. I’m sick of all “adults” complaining about seats, food, in-flight entertainment, etc etc etc.. I can guarantee you that it is hell as a responsible parent to see your little toddler go into an absolute melt-down. Then to get all the whingers … seriously. Maybe if passengers in the closest vicinity of the screaming kid could perhaps assist for 5 minutes and pull out a funny face or talk to them. All they want is a distraction and sometimes a 5 minute talk can give you 3-4 hrs of peace.

    I’m not saying you should be a baby sitter, but it gets to a point where your child will NOT listen to ANYTHING you say/do.

    I’ve done it myself before I started flying with my own child. Worked a treat.

      • Seriously this is such an inane reply and thoroughly unconstructive. Yes it is parent’s decision (most of the time) to have children. But we live in a society where reproduction is essential for our future. If you’re not a parent you can never understand how frustrating it can be from the other side of the fence to have your two year old screaming because their ears are in pain or they’re in an unfamiliar environment. It’s not always that parent’s are trying to ignore the child’s screams, it’s more likely that no matter what you do, the child, no matter how well behaved they are normally, cannot be consoled. Such immaturity from those so-called adults around them who scowl and scoff at your attempts are an indictment on your humanity. And “suffer” you say? Please, it’s at most a few hours out of your life, put on your noise cancelling headphones, listen to whatever easy-listening Kenny G you have on your iPad and ignore it, that’s the “mature” response isn’t it?

      • You do know that as a society we require a birth rate? Even if you just want to maintain a population level. This whole “your decision” thing is very short sighted. It’s why the govt stresses about how to encourage people to have children. They don’t see it as a lifestyle choice. There are so many people that actively hate kids these days they are starting to sound like Disney villains.

        • Should add that as a parent I have no problem with kid free zones. Wish I could go into them. I just hate the full on hate that people have towards kids these days. My kids tend to be better behaved then some adults on planes these days.

          • Craig your right. I have 4 little kids and most part they are great. Better behaved on flights than most adults. We were flying to Bali and they had their DS and the littlest slept most of the way with a couple of ” are we there yets”

            Their comments were “Why are those men acting that way , they are rude” Refering to drunk Bogans.

            Id rather have a Bogan free area than a kid free area

  • for those buying kids-free-econ-class seats, why not use earplugs?
    i’ve never been in first class cabin, but for business class, most i’ve seen either the passengers would be sleeping or working. so i kind of understand the ruling..

  • Yes. They should also have kid free areas everywhere. Or kid free days, where you can go shopping without kids screaming or running around, or prams getting in your way.

    In my ideal world, children would live in boarding houses/complexes until such time as they’ve shown they can behave appropriately in public. No crying and wandering in front of people, no prams. It’s a simple idea, just take the baby after birth and put it in these complexes. The government is so keen to encourage these plights to keep being born, why don’t they look after them instead of forcing it on the rest of us. Take that baby bonus and child care levy and put it into this project. Get rid of these disgusting creatures from our population until they’ve learned how to behave.

      • Stop being a condescending asshole. No everyone wants or likes children. There should be places for those people. Or better yet ship off all the people like you.

  • Yes they should charge you a premium to sit at the back of the plane so you can’t hear my kid screaming. They should use that premium to increase my leg room.

  • As someone who does 4 planes worth of commute to get from regional Australia to regional America several times a year, plus more domestic flying in Oz, I support this idea.

    Too bad it’s politically incorrect to charge an auditory annoyance fee for pax who can’t keep it down below a reasonable level (child or unruly adult, don’t care, all should pay… although in my experience, more than half of those who’d have to pay the fee WOULD be children/their parents). Because the people who should REALLY be paying extra are those who are wrecking everyone else’s quiet enjoyment of the flight. Plane travel is not a right, it is a privilege.

    • You’re absolutely correct it is a privilege but as someone who flies vast distances you’d also appreciate that in Australia, it is the only practical way to travel those very same vast distances. Grow up some yourself and show some empathy instead of the typical me-me-me attitude that today’s society seems to so adore.

      • Doc.

        I would say its the other way around.

        The child that is screaming is not just interfering with me. He or she is interfering with a good third of a plane.

        You are importing your lifestyle choices on us. Not the other way around. Everyone wants to be just left alone.

        • Importing my lifestyle upon you? Seriously? You’ve missed my point entirely… Recently we had to move from Perth to Broome… that’s 2400kms. In a plane about two hours, in a car, 24 hours give or take. I’m sorry but the choice is a no-brainer for me and any other sane parent. The decision isn’t just that the kid’s might be noisy for an hour or so but also fiscally based, convenience, time constraints etc… I’ll gladly cop a few sideways glances on takeoff and landing when the air pressure changes mean my kids are in pain. Sad that in today’s society a child in pain or distress garners such hateful, selfish remarks. If I wanted to impart my lifestyle on you, I doubt you could appreciate it or in fact handle the responsibilities or rewards… but that’s a discussion for another day. I’m in favour of a family friendly airspace, grumpy old men can pay the extra and enjoy their cone of silence. Oh wait isn’t that called business class?

          • Ok. Why does someone have ear pain ? Air pressure. What did we learn, how to cope with that? You swallow. So when the kids are too small to understand, what swallowing is, why don’t they just get forced to drink something? Why do I have to suffer for ages, while descending? Just because the parents are just too stupid to inform themselves what to do about how to fly with kids? And even more important: Why do these little buggers have to suffer? Ear pain is really hard…

      • You do see that comment reflected back on yourself dont you… where is your empathy for everyone else who has to listen to a screaming child or worse.. the seat kicker! I get frustrated on flights when kids cry and scream however if the parent is actively doing something to stop them i am happy, it is the parents who do nothing that get to me.

        I understand people have children for a variety of reasons, some out of choice and some not. However it is a parents responsibility to ensure their child behaves in a civil manner in public.

  • This is on a TECH site so to those whingers just buy noise isolation headphones. I have travelled extensively and the only thing that pees me off travelling are whinging adults, people who don’t wash before getting on a long haul flight, the oversized person whose elbows etc encroach into your seat area and people who believe that a carry on item is a suit carrier, laptop, handbag and cabin bag stuffed to the gills. For 30 odd years I have never truly been bothered by a child on a plane and even less so with a good pair of headphones and something to read or watch. Have patience because one day you may well be that parent.

      • I’d give in if I were you Doc. A lot of people don’t like kids. And nothing short of having kids is going to change that. Certainly words on a forum aren’t going to work. You see it on whenever a ‘kids on planes’ story comes up.

        Having kid free sections on planes is probably a good idea as it will give these people somewhere to go and make your life easier as well. “Oh you don’t like my kids, next time you will know to book into the kid free section.”

        Until then, just do what I do. Ignore the people who go “tch” under their breath and glare at you whenever they see you step onto a plane with a kid in tow. Last time I checked kids were not banned from planes and given you’ve paid for the tickets it’s not like these people can do anything about it. If you can live through multiple viewings of ‘In the Night Garden”, then you can put up with kid haters loudly muttering about you for a few hours 🙂

      • obviously spelling issues aside, I guarantee that most of the parents I’ve seen on many, many flights would be the first to cause a fuss if a ‘whining adult’ was even half of the noise or annoyance level of their own children.

        RE: Kelly below, I don’t glare, or have any anger towards kids (in fact kids love me). It’s parents who can’t just accept that they are inconveniencing other people, but try to justify it that are the problem.

        You are, deal with it. Is it a huge problem? Not in the slightest.

        • My apologies fryiee. My comments was more in reply to Doc over his other comments. I didn’t mean to imply that you personally was a child hater. This was just his last post I saw.

          I don’t agree with your comment though. I fail to see how when people glare and make comments towards me ,before my children have even made a noise, it makes me the problem and not them?

          Some people see children coming towards them and immediately think their flight is going to be a world of pain and have to vocalise it. “Great! I always get stuck next to a kid” “Some people just shouldn’t be parents” “Who would bring a kid on a plane” “My day was going great till now”. Geeze guys, how about you wait until we’ve sat down before you start making your judgements.

          For the record, my kids have never been a problem on planes, touch wood. But I know that no matter how much you prepare, sometimes your kids are just going to be…kids. I have nothing but sympathy for parents of children that have just decided that now is the best time to chuck a wobbly. I also feel for the people around them. Which is why kid free zones on planes is probably a good thing for everyone. We shouldn’t see it as a slight against either group. Though given the number of kids+parents vs kid free adults on the average plane, maybe it should be a smaller kids zone set aside.

  • Why stop with children, what about overweight people who can’t fit into their seats. Perhaps people who use too much deodorant or not enough, loud people, ugly people, people with too much hair. Anything we find annoying at all. No one would be allowed to fly.

  • my issue with the whole thing is that when a child is crying it is unhappy, uncomfortable, miserable…why don’t parent’s care about their own child’s discomfort and not put the kid in that situation in the first place?

    • Seriously, what is with this thread? The airline produces a possible solution to children being noisy on flights, and everybody is either saying that children shouldn’t fly or that the parents are terrible people? I’m not a parent but seriously, sometimes people have to fly with children.

      The original post here is talking about creating child-free zones, which escapes all of those problems. It’s closely related to child segregation, where parents and children ‘just happen’ to be all at the same end of the plane to minimise annoyance.

      • At last, the voice of reason!

        To me its exactly the same as a retreat – sure they cater for an explicit sector of the community, but why not?

        I’d like to see discount for passengers who (with baggage weight) are less than a certain level. At the end of the day, reducing weight on a plane saves money, so why not reward the minimalist passenger?

  • I think at some times you need to not stick your kid in a plane.

    Such as long haul flights for new borns because they will cry the entire night. Or night flights, it’s flat out inconsiderate to other passengers.

    I mean it’s unreasonable to forever ban them. But picking day flights is at least reasonable as there will be less people trying to sleep.

  • I honestly don’t understand most peoples thoughts behind their posts. When you decide to book a flight to anywhere, you should know and understand straight up that you will be stuck in a confined space with a large number of strangers. Unless you have heaps of cash and book a private jet, you can’t choose who those strangers will be. Given this, you should expect things that will annoy you. Not everyone abides by what you consider “appropriate behaviour”. If you’re not aware of this, you can’t have had much interaction with other people…
    Knowing all this when you get on the flight, harden up, rise above your emotions and just deal with it. Simple.

    Also, I think this is a good idea by the airline, it gives you the option to reduce the range of strangers you’ll be confined with for the flight. Choice is always good imo

  • You’re probably right. The original meaning of this thread is to solve the issue that people have been complaining all these years.
    Not a forum for people to complain about how they hate children.
    No one born as an adult from start anyway.

  • I think the main issue with screaming kids is the seeming disinterest of the parent to just ignore it while others suffer. We all know mothers seem to be able to tune out their kid screaming or whinging but the rest of us don’t. Some mothers need to man up and impose the discipline on their little angel.

  • Its already been said, but I think this will be a wonderful option to give passengers.
    You can pay extra and not have to put up with annoying kids (‘they’re in pain!’, ‘they’re tired’, ‘I can’t/won’t control them’) or
    You can save some cash and try to ignore them along with all the other annoyances (fatties, smellys, bogans).

  • It seems there’s a bit of an attribution issue going on.
    People with kids people with noisy and troublesome kids.
    People with body odour (i.e., everyone) people with offensive body odour.
    People drinking on a plane people drunk and obnoxious on a plan.

  • Huh, turns out text in angular brackets doesn’t show up. That was supposed to say:

    It seems there’s a bit of an attribution issue going on.
    People with kids does not equal people with noisy and troublesome kids.
    People with body odour (i.e., everyone) does not equal people with offensive body odour.
    People drinking on a plane does not equal people drunk and obnoxious on a plan.

    • I think Andrew makes a good point. I travelled a lot as a kid growing up between the UK and USA. At times I travelled on my own. My mother expected reasonable behaviour, even when I was tired or grumpy – it’s called boundaries. When we were ascending or descending, she had hard candies for me to suck on so I would keep swallowing and not end up screaming in pain – although I recall the days when airlines handed out the lollies for free 🙂

      My husband and I don’t have kids, but my sister has 3 and when they were young I was always part of the family travel because with three very little ones they needed extra hands on deck for the actual flights. When one of the kids would cry, one of us adults would get up and walk them up and down until they settled. We did not sit and ignore them screaming, watching the entertainment system and ignoring the impact on others, which I see time and time again on long and short haul flights. I don’t mind sitting near kids with parents who are actually engaged in the parenting process.

      I think the issue most people have isn’t with kids, it is with parents who just let their kids scream and tune it out, or who let them kick seats etc. I have some severe spinal problems because of a broken neck in my late teens, and despite speaking to a mother in reasonable terms about my back problems I spend a 5 hour flight with her kid kicking my seat almost constantly – her response? “well, you put your seat back.” I am sorry, but I don’t think anyone, parent or non-parent, would think that acceptable. The airline staff were similarly rude to me. I paid for a seat, I have back problems… and I shouldn’t be permitted to put it back? She made no attempt to ask the little girl to stop and in fact encouraged her. I think some parents are so expecting of hostility, they generate it where it doesn’t need to exist. I can see how that happens, but it isn’t necessary. I think that is the crux of the issue – inconsiderate, ignorant people… with kids or not.

      On a recent flight I took from Perth to Hong Kong with Cathay, I stepped into the bathroom to find someone had peed all over the floor and literally flooded it with their bodily fluids. I don’t care whether that person was adult or child, they were just an asshole. On the return flight – an overnight flight – one guy left his infant to scream solidly the whole way. Not once did he even pick the child up – in that time the kid would have needed a nappy change, feed, cuddles… not only was it hugely irritating (and no, my noise cancelling headphones didn’t work) but it was sad to see.

      Basic human decency doesn’t cost much. Don’t pee on things that aren’t yours, and give your kids some love if they are distressed, or some boundaries if they are being ratbags. And I am sure we could all be more tolerant.

  • I would really like this, I’m not a parent yet, so I do find certain things annoying with kids.

    I think parents seem to get de-sensitized to kids, so they can turn off to crying, whining, and kids being just general pains.

    I’m generally pretty patient, but one lady was letting her kid yell and scream, and let the kid kick the the crap out of the back of my chair. I asked her nicely to stop the kid, and she just said “he’s uncontrollable, I can’t do anything” and she did nothing, after about half an hour of screaming, I snapped and yelled “If you don’t stop your F_ _ King kid, I might have to do something my self”, I thought I was in for it, but all the other passengers and even the cabin crew applauded.

  • This should be more about creating a ‘Child Friendly Zone’ than a ‘Child Free Zone’… People who choose to be parents should pay extra if they wish to bring their children onto a packed flight… Why should the rest of us pay extra because we don’t want to listen to some brat screaming?

    • Pay more so we can subsidise your booze?

      Pfff… kids weigh less and eat less, therefore costs less to travel. Also, the more you segregate passengers in an aircraft, the more complex/less efficient it becomes to fill.

      But wait, let’s go even furtherthan having yet another class in an aircraft – have some flights that are over singles/couples that 18+ only and another parallel flight for families, and see which one is economical/makes more money for airlines. Why do you think economy class is so large compared to other classes?

      For those that don’t like kids crying, here is a tip – families can only afford economy class tickets. Buy a business class ticket. You’ll get more leg room, earlier food service, better booze and no noise from kids. Businessmen have been doing this for decades … wait, that was a secret right??

      … on the upside I’ll have less whinging people to listen to.

      Happy Easter holidays!!

      • Pay more so we can subsidise your noisy brats?

        Pfff… Adult passengers place far less strain on cabin staff, and are also far less irritating that screaming children who kick your seat incessantly… If anyone should be charged extra, it should be the irresponsible parents who choose to bring their demanding offspring on board…

  • to Mogwai-you sound like that YOU are the spoiled little brat and not a nice person to be around-to insult children by calling them bas- and talk about fat people=-just how fat are u?hope you don’t gain weight or have any children. too bad you are not a woman and have to go thru the pains of birth. do you remember being a baby/child-bet you were a crying baby soon we forget.

  • this is a dumb idea, coming from a mid-20s single male with no kids. a no-child zone would result in a child ghetto section, which would be hell for anyone that ended up with a ticket in it as well as the parents. you’d just be getting your child to settle and the another one would jump over the seat and raz them up. we need to share the burden of children on planes in the same way as we do with state housing.

  • Sounds like a good idea to me. Though I’m not sure it is necessary to charge extra for it – how hard is it to incorporate a moderately soundproof partition into a plane? I don’t hate kids, (and certainly adults can be just as annoying) nor is it necessarily the fault of the parents – sometimes it’s unavoidable – kids make noise. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s fair to burden the remaining passengers with a sleepless and uncomfortable journey when many of them will be required to be productive at work the following day (for example), so for longer flights, it makes good sense to me. I would liken it to snoring – the steam train in the next bed/room can’t help it, and it’s not their personal fault that they snore. However, after a couple of nights of little to no sleep, even the most reasonable person will admit that they’re ready to throttle the snorer next door.. If there is a workable available solution, I say go for it.

  • TLDR the rest of the thread as it seemed to quickly degenerate into a “kids vs no-kids” holy war…

    Anyway… I come late to this party… but put me down in the column for YES PLEASE. Heck airlines seem to charge fees and what-not for every little thing these days… why not add one more way to gouge another bundle of $$$… I for one would probably cough up for flights where it made sense.

    What would annoy me though was paying the $$$ and then being seated in the CFZ but just 1 or 2 rows away from the normals…. still subject to the machinations of those young ones who choose to be unruly at times… and those little babies too young to help it.

  • Kids might weigh less but at the end of the day they still take up the same seat, it’s not like there is a special ‘kids seat’ which enables airlines to cram more into a row. Also children tend to eat only marginally less on flights therefore your argument about them costing lest is moot.

    I have a 10 and 5 year old sister who I regularly make long haul international flights with and I have been doing so for the last 3 years. There have been numerous occasions where I would have killed for an adults only area as one gets travel sick and the other gets bored extremely quickly. When we travel our parents mostly travel in the business section or at least a few rows ahead and we are expected to look after them and I have found myself feeling sorry for the travellers nearby on just as many occasions.

    Think back x amount of years to when you were all young travellers, did you ever have that newborn who would not screaming on a long haul flight? Sure it’s horrible for the parents or the care giver but it is just as horrible for the person who has paid the same amount of money for the seat next to them. If it is a long haul flight their sleep is likely to be affected and therefore health status likely to be compromised (sleep deprivation can decrease the immune system and the immune system is already working overtime in an environment like that) and this can have great impacts on a persons holiday/business trip.

    Saying that anyone who wants peace and quiet should buy a business ticket or have to pay an exorbitant amount for this luxury is pigheaded and just as self entitled as saying we want a quiet plane trip for no extra cost. Just because I did not pay extra does not mean that your offspring should be allowed to spend the entire flight jumping on seats, screaming in my ears, kicking the back of my seat or poking me. No I will not turn around and parent them because that’s not my job, in fact it’ll take a lot for me to even mention their behaviour to you because I know you’re doing your best, just like I wouldn’t expect a stranger to try and parent my sisters. But there should be at least an option to opt out of this social situation.

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