Imagine a long distance flight with almost no disturbances. Reading books and watching movies in peace, or catching up on sleep before arriving at the destination is a luxury many people long for when flying.
AirAsia has just launched their ‘child-free areas’, banning children under the ages of twelve from the first seven seats of economy class. This is not an entirely new concept, but few airlines have been brave enough to try it. The idea of being able to completely relax with little or no disturbances from noisy children is definitely worth paying that little bit extra for. These quiet zones are separated from the rest of the cabin by bathrooms, bulkheads and curtains. The distraction-free areas also include softer lighting, for a more comfortable and relaxing environment.
AirAsia’s child-free seats have become a controversial topic. Parents are expressing concern about the limited seating. It means they will need to book early in order to be seated next to each other. And many are wondering if other airlines are going to follow the same concept. Virgin Atlantic said they “had no plans to follow AirAsia”. British Airways say they welcome families on board their flights and have no intention of having child-free zones.
Consumers are concerned whether sectioning off an area with curtains and bulkheads will really cut out all the noise of crying children, and if it is really worth the extra fee. Some suggest soundproofing is necessary for a complete quiet zone. However, in a recent survey by Telegraph Travel, almost 70 per cent of people support AirAsia’s new move. This shows that people are willing to pay extra for a quieter area on the plane.
“Now Everyone Can Fly” is AirAsia’s company slogan - are they going against this by excluding certain customers, mainly parents? Or are they merely expanding their product offerings to cater to the needs of all customers? AirAsia certainly did not intend to make any of their customers feel excluded, but strive to be a forward thinking company. The irony is that new parents travelling without their little ones may enjoy the benefits of AirAsia’s new concept the most, as it offers them a quiet break.
Personally, having experienced long flights with young children, I think this new option will make journeys more pleasant for both parents and other passengers. In an environment that has become all about the added extras and what companies can do to enhance our personal experience, I am surprised more airlines have not adopted the same concept. I have no doubt that this controversial new offering will need to be tried and tested, but it does have my full support.
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