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Four "no-kids zone" airlines putting business travellers first

By John Walton     Filed under: Airbus A380, Malaysia Airlines, Thai Airways, Scoot, AirAsia X, children

It's a business traveller nightmare: you've managed to snag a prized extra-legroom bulkhead seat, but you make your way down the aisle to find a red-faced, screaming baby in the bassinet crib a metre away from your head.

Or you haven't managed to pick one of the best seats on your flight, and instead you're relegated to the back row of business — and the wailing from a row of four babies right on the other side of the bulkhead wall begins before you even sit down.

But there are four airlines flying from Australia focusing on the needs of business travellers, and arguably putting them ahead of babies: Malaysia Airlines, Thai Airways, AirAsia X and Scoot.

MAS: no babies in first class or upstairs A380 economy

Malaysia Airlines was one of the first airlines to proclaim a kid-free zone in its swankiest (and spendiest) cabins, with Boeing 747 and Airbus A380 first classes barred to under-12s.

But it's not just for whoever can drop the most cash — the upstairs section in economy on MAS' A380s is also a refuge from the little screamers, with kids only seated upstairs as a last resort.

The priority for "families with infants and/or children in economy class is to accommodate them in main deck of 350 seats" a Malaysia Airlines spokesperson confirmed to Australian Business Traveller when the airline defended its controversial baby ban. "If main deck is full, then they are allowed at upper deck of 70 seats."

Thai: adults-only A380 upper deck economy

The upstairs sections of the cheap seats aboard Thai Airways' superjumbos are similarly kid-free.

Without the bassinet crib mountings on the bulkhead wall at the front of the upper deck economy cabin, this is the place to pick if you want to skip the screaming.

Scoot: bulkheads are for business travellers, not babies

Another airline that's kiboshed the cribs is Scoot — bassinets aren't carried aboard Singapore Airlines' low-cost sibling. The bulkhead row behind business class on its Boeing 777-200 jets dedicated to Stretch extra-legroom seating, which taller passengers can snag for just a $60 premium on top of the regular fare. 

No bassinets for this wall either — or anywhere on the plane, Scoot confirmed to us. The airline doesn't carry them. That's an added reason for price-savvy business travellers to pick the ScootBiz cabin on the other side of the bulkhead.

AirAsia X: quiet up front with new kid-free zone

It's also kid-free in the forward section of economy on AirAsia X's Airbus A330 flights, which connect Australians through Kuala Lumpur to China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea and Nepal.

There's a new Quiet Zone in the first seven rows of economy, right behind the airline's angled lie-flat Premium FlatBed business class seating.

No kids under 12 are allowed in the quiet zone, while the over-12s can buy their way in for pocket money prices: $11-35, depending on route.

The bassinets from those rows will be distributed around the rest of economy, where the kiddos can cavort to their hearts' content out of earshot.

What do you reckon airlines should do to meet business travellers' need to get some sleep, while taking into account the undeniable reality of babies on board? Share your thoughts in a comment below, or join the conversation on Twitter: we're @AusBT.

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About John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

 

Have something to say? Post a comment now!

1 on 11/2/13 by KG

 I know it is a touchy subject and we will have a lot of people arguing that drunk men and women could me more obnoxious than babies who sleep etc etc but the reality is that babies / infants can be uncontrolleable at times ands esp their crying will go right through your noise cancelling headsets.

To your question on what airlines should do to meet business travellers demand whilst acknowledging the relaity of infants travelling, I think esp Malaysian airlines did well. No harm in MH restricting access to the rear economy cabin as downstairs there is a whole section they can use. Obviously infants in the upstairs Biz section could disturb you as well (I don't believe they will ban ppl from buying a biz seat and not allowing an infant, althoiugh the MH spokes person does say they only use upstairs as a last resort). At least disturbance should be fairly limited. In terms of banning infants from MH in F, I applaud that decision from MH. I think they were smart by saying they cannot accommodate due to lack of bassinets rather than using the more controversial lines of not wanting infants to disturb the peace of high value customers. 

2 on 11/2/13 by CL9

I agree with all these airlines policies greatly, but I must say that I do think it is ridiculous punish children younger than 12, which is a ridiculously high age, considering this policy was originally to stop infants from crying in business class(es). In all seriousness, how many kids older than say 8 or 10 pose a major threat to peace for business travellers. I see a larger threat to peace from (as you said) drunk adult travellers.

3 on 15/2/13 by KayeH

And about time too.... no babies in first class, business class ... finally

4 on 15/2/13 by mackasx2

What's the problem?  There are plenty of airlines without this policy so if you have young kids pick one of them?  This is giving people who wish to have a long haul flight without kids crying/screaming an alternative.  I would think economy class childless flights will be the next innovation and I am sure there are plenty that will pay a premium for it.  I spent 9 or so hours on a flight near an exhausted, screaming 2 year old that wouldn't sleep.  The lovely parents were very embarrassed and apologetic so they had a lousy trip too.  When I arrived at my destination I was a wreck aslo, so there were at least 4 people who suffered (mum, dad, kid and me) plus I know others were aggitated.  With airfares reducing and more young families flying there is plenty of room for airlines to offer flights that appeal to all sectors.  This is marketing and I applaud those airlines who have recognised the need.

5 on 15/2/13 by mackasx2

What's the problem?  There are plenty of airlines without this policy so if you have young kids pick one of them?  This is giving people who wish to have a long haul flight without kids crying/screaming an alternative.  I would think economy class childless flights will be the next innovation and I am sure there are plenty that will pay a premium for it.  I spent 9 or so hours on a flight near an exhausted, screaming 2 year old that wouldn't sleep.  The lovely parents were very embarrassed and apologetic so they had a lousy trip too.  When I arrived at my destination I was a wreck aslo, so there were at least 4 people who suffered (mum, dad, kid and me) plus I know others were aggitated.  With airfares reducing and more young families flying there is plenty of room for airlines to offer flights that appeal to all sectors.  This is marketing and I applaud those airlines who have recognised the need.

6 on 16/2/13 by Stella

This would be great news if MAS hadn't done the dirty and removed first class from their planes to Australia.

 

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