Home Air Travel My thoughts on AirAsia’s baby- and kid-free “Quiet Zone”… and yours?

My thoughts on AirAsia’s baby- and kid-free “Quiet Zone”… and yours?

by Shelly Rivoli
flying with tot

Wake up, AirAsia. When you keep the right passengers happy, all of the passengers are happy.

I was asked earlier this morning what I think of AirAsia’s new kid-free coach section they’re calling a “Quiet Zone,” and if I think it’s a case of discrimination. I have to say, after reading over the details from AirAsia, I think it’s more a case of really, really foolish marketing.

First of all, I think they’re silly not to charge an extra fee for passengers sitting in these rows 7 through 14, which remain the standard fare of all coach seats on the flight, other than a few that may have extra legroom for an extra fee. But the reason they haven’t placed a higher premium on these seats may be explained away by my next point.

What are they going to offer those passengers every time they fail to provide a quiet flight? And to what lengths will they go to try and keep the rest of the aircraft–and the couple of rows of first class in front of them–quiet? Gag screaming babies? Tell parents they can’t take their fussy infants or restless toddlers for a stroll around the cabin to calm them–because a passenger in row 10 might hear them?

And did anyone looking at the airplane plan notice the infant bassinet positions on the aircraft are in first class just two rows in front of this quiet zone, and also on, you guessed it, row 15? Click here to see the layout.

Now, I understand that there are passengers who might be desperate to get some sleep or finish a report before a business meeting. And they probably don’t want spit up or strained carrots on their suits when they arrive. As I’ve said before, let’s make business class about business, and business travelers can get what they pay for.

I also understand some people are more sensitive to getting their seat backs kicked repeatedly by toddlers during flights. And there are those who, for whatever reason, just generally do not like children no matter how adorable, inquisitive, or well-behaved they might be. I’d prefer they not sit next to my family either if possible.

Here’s my question:

Why didn’t they instead designate that section as the “Family-friendly Zone”? Not only would that put a positive spin on their move toward segregation–an effort to make happier family travelers as well as happier travelers without kids, but it would likely improve the very situation they’re only dodging with this change: crying, unhappy young children.

Did it ever occur to anyone at AirAsia that by seating families–and those who appreciate them–together, those with babies and toddlers would find themselves in a less hostile environment, in a place where breastfeeding and eating Cheerios are par for the course, where young kids may enjoy each other’s company, and easily pass and share toys? Just think, when parents are doing all they can to get seated in rows 7 – 14, that leaves a whole ‘lotta kid-free rows throughout the rest of the plane, doesn’t it?

Not to mention, AirAsia could let all the other passengers seat themselves first as a show of good customer service–while at the same time allowing families a little more time to let their children burn off their energy before settling into their seats. When they finally board at the front of coach, there would be no need to juggle babies, toddlers and car seats through a sea of already seated passengers. Everybody wins.

What’s more, by seating the youngest passengers at the front of coach, they’d be the first to receive snack service–not the last. And as any parent knows, there’s no faster way to quiet a kid than to break out the snacks.

What do you think about AirAsia’s “Quiet Zone”? Do you think it will help make for happier travelers — or more loyal customers in the long run?

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Safe journeys,

Shelly Rivoli, author of the award-winning Travels with Baby and Take-Along Travels with Baby 

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9 comments

Kerrie @ Family Food and Travel February 15, 2013 - 7:05 pm

Really love your idea of using the area as a family-friendly zone. That would make a much better and more positive spin.

Shelly Rivoli February 15, 2013 - 7:08 pm

I think that if families who would be more comfortable there, and whose children would likely do better there could choose the family zone, and those who want to steer clear of the playdate in the sky for whatever reasons had the choice, things might go more smoothly for everyone on board.

Cate Rose February 15, 2013 - 4:19 pm

I would HATE to be sitting within a designated area just cos we’ve got young kids. A whole lot of kids together is more like a classroom – they will act up and make much more noise enmasse!
How about a section for the loudmouths and the drunks who wake our sleeping babies?
At the end of the day, everyone needs to be mindful of their environment and make every effort to be considerate with their behaviour. Nobody likes a parent that lets their kids run amok while they relax! Nor do they like the obnoxious drunks or badly behaved sports groups. However, we live in the real world with all sorts of people- of all ages -and we can afford to be a bit more tolerant…the flight will end sooner or later!

Shelly Rivoli February 15, 2013 - 7:06 pm

Cate, I like your commend and agree we can afford to be a bit more tolerant when sharing space with a hundred or more other human beings – if only more people “got that”! FWIW, there might as well be a special section for the passengers with perceivable gastric disturbances – but that’s a whole ‘other can of beans! 😉

Tim February 14, 2013 - 10:13 am

I agree, you are spot on with this. Putting a negative spin on a segment of their consumer base is very foolish marketing. They should have made a family fun zone instead at the back of the plane to encourage families to visit together without ostracizing anyone.

Jill February 14, 2013 - 9:48 am

Shelly,

I think you are spot on with this! Instead of trying to control and repress families, why not embrace them! Traveling with kids is stressful enough. I think an airline that chose to cater to families would see their ticket sales skyrocket. 🙂

Robin February 14, 2013 - 9:48 am

As much as I agree with you that having a “family friendly” zone is a more positive spin, the issue is that families are not the most profitable customers for airlines, business travelers are. And this messaging is aimed at that profitable customer.

Now, a lot of business travelers have families so I’m not so sure they will like the negative messaging either but time will tell. And I agree that AsiaAir has made a lot of mistakes in how they have set this up (no extra fee, bassinet seats right by the quiet zone, etc.). I hope that this will be a huge failure and this will go away, but this anti family trend doesn’t look like its going away anytime soon. 🙁

Marissa Cortes February 14, 2013 - 7:10 am

Hi Shelly

This is a long overdue THANK YOU! for your website and all the information you pack into your posts for travel with babies. I have used your site time and again since I started traveling with my daughter when she was 2 months old (she will be 3 next week.) I had been blogging about our travels, and recently have been receiving more emails in search of advice, which I regularly send over to your website as you are so knowledgeable and thorough! And I applaud all the travel you do with three kids in tow!

A huge thanks again, and I look forward to continuing to use your site as a resource to trust.

All the best,

Marissa

Shelly Rivoli February 14, 2013 - 9:31 am

Thanks so much, Marissa! Your site and your adventures with your daughter look very interesting, too. Your kind comment is much appreciated. 😉

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