Parents cry foul over IndiGo's decision to ban children from certain rows on flights

PHOTO: Pixabay

If you're one of the unfortunate few who had to endure hours of kicking and screaming children on flights, then IndiGo's new seating policy is a welcomed change.

The Indian low-cost carrier announced that it will allocate "Quiet Zones", where children under 12 years old are not allowed to sit.

It said in a statement: "Keeping in mind the comfort and convenience of all passengers, row numbers one to four and 11 to 14 are generally kept as a Quiet Zone on IndiGo flights. These zones have been created for business travellers who prefer to use the quiet time to do their work."

The airline also said that children are not allowed to sit in rows one, 12 and 13, where the emergency exits are found, as well as those with additional leg room.

While this new policy is considerate towards travellers with no children in tow, it did not sit well with most parents.

One disapproving reader told the Hindustan Times that the policy was discriminatory. She said: "It means that you cannot ask for more leg space while travelling with your children."

Another parent told the Mirror that the ban was ridiculous. She said she wasn't obliged to explain her child's crying to other passengers: "I'm not going to explain myself to an adult who should understand that babies do cry."

Some Twitter users also responded in the same grain.

But to most frequent flyers, the policy is a step in the right direction.

Read also: Flying with kids: 9 tips for happier little travellers

News.com.au reported that a study by LateDeals.co.uk in 2014 found that nearly 70 per cent of respondents were for child-free flights.

"About a quarter said kid-free zones should be compulsory on long-haul flights, and nearly a third said quiet rows were necessary to ensure stress-free travels for non-parenting passengers. Thirty-five per cent said they'd pay more to travel on an entirely child-free flight."

The debate continues on social media:

IndiGo's controversial policy isn't the first of its kind in the aviation industry.

Scoot introduced a ScootinSilence upgrade where travellers get to sit upfront away from children under 12.

"People love their own kids, but they might not necessarily love someone else's," says Scoot Chief Executive Officer Campbell Wilson. "Allowing someone the option of travelling with the assurance of not having young children around is simply one of the many choices you have."

Read also: 3 ways to survive an overseas holiday with kids in tow

AirAsia X also comes with kid-free zones in rows seven to 14 only for eligible passengers above the age of 10. Both Scoot and AirAsia X have a child-free policy in business class.

In 2011, Malaysia Airlines boldly banned infants from first class on its 747-400 routes. The following year, the carrier introduced a mostly child-free upper deck on its A380 jumbos, but not before announcing that the lower deck will be enhanced to be more family-friendly.

debwong@sph.com.sg