Child-free flight zones: what do you think?

(294 Posts)
HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 07-Feb-13 10:26:32

Morning. We've just seen this article in the Telegraph about a Malaysian airline which has launched 'quiet zones' on selected flights, where children under the age of 12 are not permitted to sit.

It seems that a recent poll of Telegraph Travel readers also found that nearly 70% would support the introduction of child-free flights.

What do you think?

Should people have the right to travel without being 'disturbed by noisy children'? Or not?

BeCool Thu 07-Feb-13 13:54:08

I can honestly say I've never been annoyed by children on a flight. Not even ebfore I had them myselves, And I've flown LOADS

BeCool Thu 07-Feb-13 13:55:30

I have been annoyed on flights by a Nun, a sweaty fucker, idiots taking drugs and drinking on flights, drunks, rampant recliners - all of whom were adults.

I have been very annoyed indeed by children on the train, BeCool. Sadly they were mine! If I recall correctly, on one long, long journey back up from Penzance on the intercity train, I abandoned the children with dh, so he could suppress them, went into the vestibule and screamed silently, then bought myself a gin and tonic from the buffet. The alternative was killing them.

BeCool that reminded me of a very annoying buddist monk I met on a flight. He demanded us to move for him because he wanted our seats! (We were childless back then). DH politely told him we couldn't move because DH has a vegetarian meal. I'd have told him to f off.

Figgygal Thu 07-Feb-13 14:06:22

I am torn by this as i fly across the UK to see my friends and family 5/6 times a year and now take my little boy with me there is no alternative choice other than driving or train for 10 hours a time when i can do it door to door in less than 4. Luckily that flight is 1-1.5 hours long not long haul and i can just about control him in that time (though he is only 13mo his first flight was at 6weeks), i wouldnt want to take him on long haul though.

I used to be very judgey about children on flights as i am sure some people are about me but i am taking him to see his grandparents and have come to appreciate that others are doing the same...that said i am still judgey about parents who take their children on inappropriate holidays with long flights and late nights when they are there. They wont remember the holiday and are going solely for their parents enjoyment, when i had children i accepted it meant exotic foreign jaunts were a luxury and a sacrifice needed to be made. Though i am desperate for a holiday now to go on one would be mightily hypocritical of me so am looking at wet weeks on the south coast for a few more years.

Obviously still conflicted!!!!

Chopstheduck Thu 07-Feb-13 14:12:03

I'd love the idea. I have kids, but sometimes I want a break from them, and then I don't necessary want to listen to other people's children screaming then neither, and I expect other people feel the same about mine!

I went away last year without the kids was loving the freedom, and we went to a very exclusive party. A large group came over with about 10 children amongst themselves, and proceeded to sit all their children on our table. I wouldn't have minded, but there wasn't even the adults, just all their kids! We ran like hell. Being a parent doesn't mean you don't occasionally want a bit of adult time.

Quenelle Thu 07-Feb-13 14:13:01

My first reaction was 'Oh that's a good idea, we wouldn't have to worry about annoying the other passengers'.

But then I thought actually no, I don't want this, I don't want DS to spend the next 10 years segregated into 'family' areas at 'family' times whenever we dare to take him out and inflict him on the public.

If we want children to learn how to behave in society, they have to live 'in' society. Not sectioned off in some primary-coloured, cartoony world until they become teenagers and are suddenly expected to behave like young adults.

We were all children once, and grew out of it. If adults can't bear to be around them for the duration of a flight they can pay extra and segregate themselves.

Chopstheduck Thu 07-Feb-13 14:14:49

I also went to a rugby match with my eldest son a few weeks ago and the kids behind me kept kicking our seats constantly and the mum was standing dead in front of us to take pictures of her little darlings. hmm

I don't think it is so much about even wanting to get away from the kids, it;s the inconsiderate parents. I told the children behind us 4 or 5 times to stop kicking our seats (firmly and politely) the parents were oblivious. They'd stop for a bit, then start again.

FranglaisMaman Thu 07-Feb-13 14:20:06

Let's have a fat tax instead and make the overweight passengers pay more - have lost count of the amount of times I have been crushed in my seat because the person next to me is spilling over onto me. Having skin to skin contact with a walrus thrust upon me is unfair I think.

I can see both sides with children on flights. I fly very often and it's an ordeal if there are children screaming and kicking off the whole time. Especially if you're trying to get some sleep and you get none because of whingy kids. Also get very angry at parents who don't stop their children kicking the back of your seat, urgh! Usually I don't like to confront them so sit there being kicked in the back the whole time angry - why should I? However, now I am pregnant and I am DREADING flying with my baby as I'll be terrified if they make a noise or get fussy on the flight or fill their nappy and stink the place out (shudders). Because I have been on the receiving end and wouldn't want to inflict my child on other passengers. So I think I'd feel more comfortable in a kid-friendly zone with people in the same situation as myself.

PuffPants Thu 07-Feb-13 14:20:15

Does that mean all the families would have to sit together? Gah! I try to avoid sitting anywhere near other people's children tbh.

FranglaisMaman Thu 07-Feb-13 14:21:51

Oh and for the previous posters who mentioned the recliners - TOTALLY AGREE!! My pet hate. I never recline mine, esp on short flights, to avoid being a pain in the arse. Space is at a premium as it is on these flights without having your nose pressed up against the seat in front of you - urgh! Can you tell I hate flying yet? smile

JollyRedGiant Thu 07-Feb-13 14:27:33

I haven't read the whole thread. I would be totally supportive of family friendly flights. Like family friendly cinema screenings. When you don't have to worry about your small child crying or upsetting the people next to you with your 14th rendition of The Gruffalo from memory because the person next to you gives you evil looks every time you take a book out of your bag. It is distinctly possible my last flying experience, with a 14mo has scarred me for life. And also caused the people next to us to think twice before they fly again.

Kooza Thu 07-Feb-13 14:28:27

Agree with the poster who said that the problem is more the parents than the children.
We have flown a LOT with our kids, there are 3 of them and I have had so many "Please God don't let me be sitting near them" looks off people!

At the end of the flight, without fail those same people always give big smiles and comment on how good the kids were.

I take snacks, books, DVD players, puzzles, colouring things and games. I prepare for at least one change of clothes and the children have been drilled that travelling on trains or planes requires that they "use quiet voices, don't run around and NEVER kick anyone's seat".

I personally wouldn't want to be herded into some separate section where we are banded together with all the other families who don't take such measures just because we are "a family" and therefore a disruptive element!

CelineMcBean Thu 07-Feb-13 14:29:42

Brilliant idea. Can I also request that there is a seperate area from me for my children? One where they are kept entertained, safe and fed? Then I could really enjoy my holiday!

LabelsGalore Thu 07-Feb-13 14:35:55

I agree that it would make it much worse to have all the families together. You have one child starting to make noise, they will all want to do the same. One stating to move around, get up and 'why can't get up too?'.

I have seen that happening in restaurant too. Take a ;child friendly' restaurant. The waiter comes and gives some colouring stuff. A few kids gets up, there is some noise and I end up spending most of the time trying to ensure that my dcs 'behave'. Then we go to an 'adult restaurant' There is no colouring sheets, no crayons and I have 2 perfectly behaved children...

The issue here is more about parents that are inconsiderate towards other passengers rather than the children themselves. (ie they could ask them to stop kicking the seat in front of them, be stopped from playing with the tray, stopped when they scream etc...).

And Franglaismaman, when a baby fill its nappy, it just does. It can't stop himself from doing so. It's not horrible, it's not disgusting. It's a normal physiological act. Why on earth should anyone be worried (or annoyed) about a baby being in good health?
Tbh my experience of flying with young dcs is that I've had people commenting on well behaved my dcs were when I thought they have been a nightmare to people around. I also have had people offering help. So perhaps, the issue is more with a few grumpy people rather than the majority?

LabelsGalore Thu 07-Feb-13 14:36:49

xpost Kooza, same experience here....

Zara1984 Thu 07-Feb-13 14:39:40

Bloody brilliant idea. And I say this having just flown to and from NZ with 4 week old and them 14 week old DS. He was an angel and slept most of the journey, but of course sometimes he did cry for a few minutes and disturbed passengers around us. 24 hours is a long time to spend in the immediate radius of a small baby, and I'd totally understand while people would not choose to sit near us!

Yes children are people and their parents have paid for their seats, but people fly for lots of different reasons. Many people travel for work etc and need to try and rest on the flight as much as possible. Some children are well behaved but others are not or their parents seem to think its alright for their little darlings to terrorise others.

I imagine the airline is going to try and charge extra for this, and if I or DH were travelling for work, I'd definitely pay extra. No different from hotels/resorts which don't allow under-12s.

And hmm to the person who said they disagreed with parents taking children on "inappropriate" holidays /long flights when children are young. How do you propose I and DS get to see my relatives otherwise? Most people travelling with young babies I met on the flights were going to visit family too.

exexpat Thu 07-Feb-13 14:51:38

Meh. I've been flying regularly with DCs since they were 3 months old, lots of long-haul flights, and apart from inevitable occasional crying when they were tiny (most often solved by shoving a boob in their mouths) they have been perfectly well-behaved and civilised travellers from toddlerhood - but it does take quite a lot of planning on the parent's part. Personally I have been much more disturbed by drunken businessmen, but I guess they are more likely to be Telegraph readers than my children are.

If an airline had that policy, I would probably choose to fly with someone else.

Zara1984 Thu 07-Feb-13 14:55:50

grin grin Exexpat about Telegraph-reading drunk sleazes....

EauRouge Thu 07-Feb-13 15:03:18

Exactly; choosing to go on a long haul flight with children just for a holiday? No thanks! We also go to visit family. The DDs have only met half of their family twice.

I get so nervous about flying, partly because I've always hated it and partly because I'm worried about someone getting arsey with the DDs mid-flight and not being able to get away from them. I always go totally overboard bringing thousands of sticker books and chocolate buttons to keep them quiet. But this 'children shouldn't be on planes' attitude keeps me on edge.

CarlingBlackMabel Thu 07-Feb-13 15:12:49

"Because then, no fucker can whinge about children on their flight EVER AGAIN"

I fly with children and would be in the 'family' zone and still whinge about some parents and some children. Of course some crying, loud enthusiastic talking and singing, flinging of grapes and wax crayons is to be expected, but allowing your child to vigorously kick the seat in front for 8 hours is too much. As is allowing your children to lean over the seat in front patting the occupant on the head and shrieking with laughter for 2 hours. Or lean over the seat behind and spit and blow raspberries.

But it's true - adults can be just as annyoing anyway.

I don't know why they have set rows - why don't they fill up frpm the front with child-free, and fill up from the back with families until they meet in the middle when the flight is full?

BoffinMum Thu 07-Feb-13 15:14:40

So to sum up:

It's OK to talk, laugh and shout your head off
It's OK for an obese person to take up more space than they are due
It's OK to get completely rat arsed and annoy the person next to you

But only if you are over 12. If you are under 12, you have to sit in a ghetto in case you are annoying at some point in the flight. So if you are a secondary school pupil wanted to read your magazine in peace, or play on your DSi, you are forced to sit surrounded by random babies and toddlers purely on grounds of age.

This actually happened to us on a Lufthansa plane. Some berk of a check in clerk made all the kids sit squashed in about 3 rows at the back on a plane that was less than half full (all the other rows had one person on). She basically set up an unofficial ghetto system. We were boxed in for ages while the stewardesses were fiddling about, and the kids couldn't get out to go to the loo or anything. When we complained the stewardesses gave us an earful. At that point, everyone rebelled, moved and spread themselves out on the plane in a more sensible fashion.

My view with regard to flight ghettos is that these are public transport systems. If people want peace and quiet, they should hire a private jet or put in earplugs.

In terms of keeping children more compliant on planes:

Make departure lounges and security processes more restful.
Allow small children to completely bypass queues and other things that wind them up.
Provide small activities and distractions on planes, like they did until about 10-15 years ago. Allow the cabin crew time to interact with children and give them training.
Prioritise small children for meals, drinks and toilets, etc.

It's not hard.

Pyrrah Thu 07-Feb-13 15:20:05

My worry with a family section is that it would set a whole load of children off and make it potentially worse.

I take DD on long-haul flights - I travel for work and she comes with me as there is no-one I can leave her with (I run my own business so not a problem that way).

She's generally an angel on the plane and a monster in the airports, but I do try and not have seats near other children. She is gregarious and if she is on her own she will sit and do colouring or watch a film but if there are other children to mess about with....

If they do decide to bring it in, then it needs to be done properly. I had a horrible time last year on a train to Manchester: I had to book and reserve seats in advance and while you can tick a box to reserve a seat in the Quiet Carriage, there is no box to tick to ask for one specifically not in the Quiet Carriage. We were assigned seats in that carriage and DD at 2.5 years decided that she was going to throw tantrums and generally be vile the entire way there.

I actually got up halfway through and apologised to the whole carriage and said that I was sorry we were forced to be there (no other seats available - conductor tried).

Contacted the railway and they seemed incapable of understanding why they needed to change the booking system.

Would hate to see what happens if they mess up and put a child in the quiet zone by mistake (and it will happen).

Lavenderhoney Thu 07-Feb-13 15:37:55

Kooza, totally agree with you, that is also my experience of flying. If you are organised, take stuff for the dc, have an expectation of behaviour and engage with them- no you won't be able to read, watch a film or pretend to be single. You have to be on parent duty for hours.

I always get people helping ( with a bag or holding a dc hand when expected to descend a plane down virtually upright steps with dc and bag in the the dark) and sometimes I am very lucky and get a travelling gp who takes a fancy to the dc and asks to read with them.

And I travel longhaul for family reasons. And even if I didn't, I would still think about travelling long haul with my dc if I wanted to. The idea that someone may be on the flight who expects it to be child free or kids to travel in silence is ridiculous.

And putting your seat back as far as you can as soon as the seat belt sign is off is annoying for anyone ESP in the tiny seat sizes of economy. But that's another threadsmile

I really haven't come across anyone who pulled a face at baby changing or bf on board. Why should they? It's normal. What's not normal is seat kicking or parents ignoring a couple of toddlers messing about and being disruptive. I would mention it to the cabin crew myself.

I also don't agree with bundling all families together. Segregation of dc? What next, old people not allowed to disembark til last as they are too slow?

I have a friend who travels business with her dc and their is an on flight nanny for hers provided by the airline as part of biz class service.

Children are the customers of the future. So it makes sense to be nice with them.

GreenEggsAndNichts Thu 07-Feb-13 16:08:32

Some comments here reminded me of what KLM used to do on their flights (might still do, though I assume it's specific to the type of plane they're flying and the layout of it). They had what I called a baby bucket (suspect this isn't their term for it) which was set up behind a row of seats, and parents could put their children in and and it seemed as if they were seated in the next possible row, so they could keep an eye on them. The children played or whatever in this, which was something like a large travel cot.

The only people inconvenienced were myself and DH- we had the seats the bucket was attached to. grin It's the only time I was a bit irritated by children on a flight. Usually, if it's just the same child behind you for a transatlantic flight, they have to sleep or calm down sometime. Not so if the "child behind you" is being refreshed every 20 minutes or so.

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