Is Family Section or Adult Only Flights the Answer?

Maybe you have seen some of the ink out there lately about being fed up with disruptive kids on flights and how to deal with this.  One of the more informative pieces came to me from a visitor to this blog (thank you!) and involves a survey done by

After the incident where a woman claimed a baby’s screaming made her ears bleed on a Qantas flight (seriously!), they did a poll and they collected responses from 2000 people. As you might guess, parents and non-parents weigh in differently…

For the non-parent respondents:

8% thought people, parent or not, should be entitled able to sit where they want.

Almost 70% wanted to sit as far away as possible from kids.

68%  liked the idea of a “family-only” section on flights.

Almost 25% would like flights that did not have kids on them at all.

Of parent respondents:

31% of them liked the idea of family sections.

45% didn’t want a families-only section because they didn’t want to sit next to “other people’s horrors”

24% didn’t like the family section idea because they felt that people should be able to sit where they want.

The family section idea at first reminded me of the recent scuttle about disruptive kids in public places in urban environments and all the brooha it caused.  At first blush, like in restaurants, having a “kid” section on a plane seems appealing.  But let’s face it. If there is a screaming kid in row 15, you are still going to be bothered by it wherever you are on the plane.  It might work in a good size restaurant, but in all practicality, I am not sure it would work on planes.

Skyscanner PR manager Mary Porter thinks she’s got the idea–make the non-parents pay a higher fee to take kid-free flights.  While another add on for the airline industry, at first I take offense at this.  Why should those not doing the disrupting pay more?  Then again, there are disruptive adults, so you could spend more to be on the kid-free flight and still have an aggravating experience.

Maybe it does not boil down to kids or no kids, but to just flat out respect for others in this strange, cramped type of public place. But we know that this does not happen automatically.  Many people know what this means on a plane, parents and not. And lots others, are oblivious to what disrespectful behavior in this situation looks (smells and sounds!) like.

How about this–treat it like driving.  Lay out the “rules” of respectful conduct at the time of purchase, including things like keep your children quiet, do not allow you child to kick the back of the passenger’s seat ahead of him/her, please do not wear strong perfume, do not snore, etc. And if “rules” are violated the passengers are fined like we get ticketed when we violate the rules of the road or parking.  Ok I know, largely far fetched as well, but how else can respectful flight behavior from all ages be encouraged, even required?

5 thoughts on “Is Family Section or Adult Only Flights the Answer?

  1. Your driving comparison works only if the penalties can be escalated to include being placed on a no-fly list, akin to having one’s drivers license revoked. Otherwise, the (wealthy) parents of bratty kids will see the fines as a cost of flying and figure, “Go ahead, fine me, I don’t care!”

    I am not sure family sections will be any more effective than the old smoking sections on airplanes because noise, like smoke, can easily travel from the area in which it begins to areas in which is needs to be kept away from.

    I found this “45% didn’t want a families-only section because they didn’t want to sit next to ‘other people’s horrors'” a curious response, in the “not my little darling angels” mold. That is, these parents always see their own kids as inoffensive little angels while *other* people’s kids are the brats.

    Similarly, the “24% didn’t like the family section idea because they felt that people should be able to sit where they want.” were likely from the “I know my kids are brats so you just have to put up with it no matter what” mode, very selfish.

    Those two categories are more than 2/3 of the parents, a pretty scary thought.

  2. I really like the idea of fining obnoxious people on the plane. They should have to pay the fees before they are allowed to pick up their luggage too. Putting horrible children (and adults) on a no-fly list is a good idea for repeat offenders as well.

    What really irritates me is that sometimes even the parents won’t sit by their ill-mannered children. I was once on a flight that had a screaming kid, who looked at least years old, in the back of the plane, and the father was in the front sleeping the entire flight. When the plane landed, he went to the back with the rest of his family and helped them carry their stuff.

  3. As a childfree person who hates the sound of misbehaving children, I would be willing to may more for a flight without kids on it. Of course that’s no guarantee there won’t be obnoxious people on board, but I would be paying for the likelihood of quiet, not the guarantee of quiet. I’m betting there are quite a few people with children who would not mind taking a childfree flight once in a while. In a way, this already happens — there are almost no children who fly in the first-class sections, so people are in effect paying more for a childfree section already.

    It would be smart of the airlines to look into this possibility, especially if there’s money involved.

    One real nightmare scenario that the airlines would have to face is someone who showed up for a childfree flight with a baby in his/her arms and tried to get on anyway. “But he’s so quiet! He’s not like the others! I HAVE to get to ___ to see grandma and grandpa….”

    To be fair, though, if you’re flying into or out of Orlando, you know it was going to be rough. Don’t be surprised at the number of kids.

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