As the economy and security regulations conspire to squeeze the comforts out of air travel – lines are long, flights are full and increasingly devoid of amenities – the sound of a baby’s wail can be the breaking point for already frayed nerves.
Now, travelers without children are doing some fussing of their own. Some are calling for airlines to implement child-free flights, or designate “family-only” sections on planes, in the wake of some high-profile tantrums.
In July, Qantas settled a lawsuit from a woman who claimed that she suffered hearing loss after sitting next to a screaming 3-year-old boy on a 2009 flight from New York to Australia. (Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.)
In January, AirTran removed an entire family from a flight before takeoff from Fort Myers, Fla., because their 3-year-old girl was hitting the parents, making noise and refusing to take her seat. And in March, a 42-year-old woman allegedly grabbed a boy (3 years old, again) for kicking her chair during a Southwest flight to Las Vegas.
While few travelers would advocate outright assault, a survey of 2,000 travelers released by Skyscanner, a fare-comparison site, in August found that 59 percent of passengers support creating special sections on flights for families.
Nearly 20 percent said they would like to see airlines offer child-free flights.
The survey brought widespread attention to such ideas, which had long been simmering on message boards, blogs and other bastions of complaint.
“I would gladly pay extra for a child-free flight,” said Ian Burford, a frequent flier from Boston who recently started a Facebook group called Airlines Should Have Kid-Free Flights. “Or at least if they made it easier when booking a flight to say ‘I don’t want to be seated next to a 1-year-old.’ That would be helpful.”