Would you pay more to fly in a child-free cabin?

By David Flynn, December 30 2013
Would you pay more to fly in a child-free cabin?

With Singapore Airlines' low-cost offshoot Scoot joining Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia X in declaring a child-free zone, TripAdvisor reports that almost one in three Australian travellers would be prepared to pay extra to sit in part of an aircraft from which children where banned.

After polling 1,800 Australians, 61% said they would be willing to pay more for a seat in a child-free section.

While 21% of the survey respondents would not pay a kid-free surcharge and 8%  indicated they have no preference, 11% of those polled rated the concept of child-free zones was 'offensive'.

However, the TripAdvisor poll didn't broach the question of how much extra travellers would be willing to pay for flying in blessed silence.

Scoot charges A$16 on top of a regular economy fare to sit in its small 'ScootinSilence' economy cabin, located at the very front of the economy section of its Boeing 777s, while AirAsia X charges A$11-A$35 (depending on the route) for its Quiet Zone area in the first seven rows of economy.

Interestingly, a similar TripAdvisor poll held in the UK in February this year saw the Brits divided almost equally on the topic, with 41% willing to pay up and 43% against the extra-fare concept.

This could reflect the fact that we Australians tend to fly for much longer distances to get anywhere, so the lure of a child-free cabin has a much higher value.

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

22 May 2011

Total posts 88

Yes in economy, however you should be able to get something else as well for the surcharge (eg on Scoot I think the quiet cabin is 'Stretch' seats, which give more leg room).  They shouldnt be able to charge for what is simply to them an arrangement of passengers within the cabin - with nothing else offered.

I believe a child-free cabin really is a must for first and business class.  Often business class is split between 2 cabins - really one should be designated the quiet/child-free cabin without a surcharge as the business class ticket alone is a massive surcharge above economy.  I applaud MAS for banning kids in First. Is it really fare that one pays $8000 for Business to Europe, only to be disrupted by kids who scream, open/close window shades as a game with parents who are incapable of managing their young ones?  Sorry...just having a rant...

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

30 Aug 2013

Total posts 9

It would depend on the time of the year. If it was around Christmas time or school holidays then yes.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2011

Total posts 732

A few thoughts:

On long haul flights your peace and quiet is probably worth more than on shorter flights, hence I tend to agree with the article stating that this is probably why the British are more divided.

An article like this will probably spark up the debate again on what is more annoying, some bogan being obnocxious and drunk of his a$$, rude to FA's etc etc or a baby or child occaisionally crying because he/she is hungry or thier ears hurt during take off and landing? I don't know the answer.

If you have a child free zone, at what age do you draw the line? Is it babies, or kids up until 6 years, or maybe it should be 12 years? In general babies are seated in bulkhead rows near basinets, so if you sit a bit more back (or all the way up front) you would have avoided them. In terms of children not being well behaved, I think the parenst or guardians shoudl be held repsonsible and they should ensure minimum disruption to other passengers.

When flying in premium cabins I feel you do pay for the quiet cabin, but does that justify banning certain age groups? in general the cabins are much quiter and there is more personal space which probably has a calming effect on people, hence I have never really experienced disruption.

Would I pay more? No I would not, it is a fact of life and I guess we have to all just deal with it.

19 Jan 2012

Total posts 427

No, I don't think a customer should have to pay more to gain child-free space. Children should be properly supervised by their parent/guardian and the airline should enforce common standards of behaviour across all passengers in the interests of all passengers.

Why should I have to pay more because one or both of the above doesn't happen?

As someone who doesn't travel with kids, I would prefer if they weren't in premium cabins, but don't think I should expect to have that preference inflicted on other travellers who are parents.

I recall a SYD-HNL in J where there were babies on both sides of the front row - contrary to my initial dismay, they were silent for most of the flight.

It might be prudent for airlines to have child free areas, but I guess it would be expecting too much to expect these without a cost applied!

As you pointed out clearly, you felt dismay initially as you saw the babies in the J cabin. That's the concerns many passengers have, be it a reality or a perception.  

02 Jan 2013

Total posts 142

I recently purchased flights to Kuala Lumpur with AirAsiaX. Was lucky enough to purchase a seat in the very first isle of Economy aka "Child Free/Quiet" zone and yes I was more than happy to pay $46AUD extra for the luxury.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 65

Recently endured 12 hours on a Swiss flight from Singapore to Zurich, with FIVE children in business (including 2 babies and 2 under four). Three of them belonged to one family, the children started screeching about two hours into the flight - after dinner when we are trying to sleep - there was at least one making a phenomenal noise for just on 9  hours. Parents were aggravated, and seemed to be adding to the childrens agitation rather than calming them - and they  blocked off one of the toilets for their own use two hours out of Zurich. Normally can sleep thru most things - not this level of disturbance. I travel with strong ear plugs and sleeping pills and was woken continuously. Absolutely the worst flight in 40 years of travelling. Mightily cheesed off paying so much for a flat bed, and not be able to enjoy it. Was not well for several days after. Had a go at Swiss for allowing so many children into business. Think under 12s need to be blocked from at least one business cabin, if not totally from F and J

22 May 2011

Total posts 88

Agree with the 12 years age limit - whilst one would think a 4-5+ year old should be able to be disciplined, there are simply incapable parents out there who couldnt care less about their kids running around like headless chickens.

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1242

Sorry to read about your experience RR and kudos for complaining to Swiss. I think it's great Malaysia Airlines do not permit infants and young children in their premium cabins and can only hope Singapore Airlines (on whom I do most of my flying) will follow suit one day.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

23 May 2012

Total posts 268

I am very surprised that so many people want to pay more and get a seat in the child-free zone. As I mostly fly premium economy, I don't see this as a major issue for me. I have flown in economy before next to the baby bassinet seats from Sydney to Los Angeles, and I didn't find it a serious problem. 

I think it should be offered but at a smaller fee. $35 is a bit ridiculous!

10 Aug 2013

Total posts 29

My sanity on a 10 hour flight is priceless.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Feb 2011

Total posts 52

There should be no need to pay more if you have already booked business class. Nothing worse than listening to someone putting their young baby through the hell of a pressurized cabin. Not sure why anyone would be so mean to their own kids! But Business Class needs to get back to exactly that, Its for business travellers that need the time to work or sleep, Bring back first class for those who have money to burn and want their kids to fligh up the pointy end or bring on Premium Econ so that Family's have room to move! Or better still how about making the whole back of the plane Premium so that everyone can feel happy about flying! An extra 2inches wider in the seats and 10 inches of knee room would work wonders and people would automatically flock to the airline with more room.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2013

Total posts 698

I'm not against such an offering (under the banner of "choice"), but just like with the "adult" pax - it's not children per say, but rather the "quality/behaviour" of child (and parent/s).

Some babies and children are perfect travellers, some nightmares, but it's luck of the draw and I think blanket bans in cabin classes are somewhat unfair (especially if they paid they same fare as you, some airlines don't offer discounts in the premium cabins). However segments of cabins, with concessions to peak periods and "as needs must" events, seems like a fair balance. 

As no-one can ever guard against all possible adverse events while travelling, sometimes you just have to take the bad with the good...

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