Here’s the Deal With Baby-Free Zones on Airplanes
You’ve got a six-hour flight ahead of you, and the woman sitting next to you has a two-month-old. One minute in, the baby’s wailing — and she’s not stopping anytime soon. There was a time when this irked you beyond belief, but now that you’re a mama too, you see things differently. Recently, Indian budget airline IndiGo announced that they would have child-free “quiet zones.” This isn’t the first time that a carrier has decided to ban babies from sections of the plane. AirAsia X, Singapore’s Scoot and Malaysia Airlines have all tried out kid-free zones. (They’re not on US flights — yet.) While there might have been a time when you were all about traveling in total peace and quiet, it’s worth wondering whether these zones are going a step too far. Read on to see what the deal is with these quiet zones and how you can make traveling with a little one just a little bit easier.
First things first, let’s take a moment to understand what a quiet zone really is. There are no physical barricades, and you won’t find a velvet rope partitioning off these in-flight areas. IndiGo’s designated kid-free zones are rows 1 to 4, 11 through 14. Passengers under age 12 aren’t allowed in these areas. So, even if you’ve got a rowdy 13-year-old, he’s welcome to sit in row 3.
Business in the Front, Party in the Back
The point of an in-flight quiet zone is to give passengers (especially those who are traveling for business) the chance to work in a library-like space. There are no shrill wails from a colicky baby or cranky toddler tantrums in these rows, right?
Sure, in theory. But, what happens when you get to row 15? Or 16? It doesn’t matter if you’re one row or 12 rows away from the quiet zone. Everyone can hear that baby scream. They can also hear the exuberant four-year-old who thinks she’s starring in her very own one-woman re-enactment of Frozen — and her two-year-old sister who is trying to join in. That’s not even mentioning the two-alarm tantrum that is going on between rows 5 and 10!
Discriminating Against the Diaper-Wearing Set
Okay, so it’s fairly obvious that the inability to physically separate the kiddos from those quiet-time-needing adults makes this idea impractical (and pretty nonfunctional). But that’s not the only reason why some people aren’t all for airplane quiet zones.
Keeping families out of certain areas of a plane is seen, by some, as a discriminatory practice. Let’s say you always fly in row 11. It’s your lucky number and you want to book a seat in the middle of it. While you’re more than welcome to sit there, your 12-month-old isn’t. Hmm… suddenly banning you from a row simply because you have a little one seems pretty unfair.
Taking a flight with a young child isn’t always easy (and that’s putting it mildly). That said, you can do it! Tune into your baby’s needs. Have a pacifier ready to go if her ears are bothered by the altitude, keep a bottle (or a snack) on hand and absolutely, positively do not forget your child’s lovey. If Gerri the giraffe makes her giggle, you will need it to keep her smiling.
If your little one simply won’t stop crying mid-flight, pick her up and gently rock her as you walk up and down the aisle. Keep in mind, the noise and brightness of the cabin may lead to overstimulation. Use earplugs (for yourself, and maybe bring some for your neighbors too) and pull the window covers down to keep your child calm (or at least, calmer).
Do you have a favorite trick for traveling with your baby? Share your tip and tweet us @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)