Sunday, March 27, 2011

Class Warfare

Raise your hand: Who just loves to fly with screaming children?

Here is the same question said differently:

How many times have you got on a plane, for business or pleasure and had your flight disturbed by endless crying or screaming or by having the back of your seat endlessly kicked? While everyone has the right to fly I think that there should be some ability to separate out, by flight or by seating area, the people who do not want to put up with the constant and annoying disturbance. The technology exists. A check box while booking or a warning at seat assignment perhaps? As I am careful to avoid bothering the people around me when I fly, I really just want the same consideration - I just want to be able to fly without having my chair kicked, my hearing damaged and my sanity shattered.

This is the description of a group called "Airlines Should have Kid Free Flights!"

According to a recent article asking "Should Airlines Create Separate Sections for Kids, Larger Fliers?," the creator of the social media page is not anti-children, it is just that he's " 6-4, so seating is always an issue ... But when you're uncomfortable anyway, and then you have some young child screaming or kicking the back of your chair, it just puts you in a bad position, because there's absolutely nothing you can do about it. It's not a case of not liking kids. It's a case of not wanting them sitting next to you or behind you when you travel."

Indeed, following a lawsuit by a woman who claimed a screaming baby made her ears bleed, at least one poll reveals that a majority of airline fliers favor separate seating for families and adults onboard commercial jets.  SkyScanner.Net reports that 59 percent of travelers want family-only sections on flights, with 68 percent of non-parents accepting the idea favorably.

According to, however, "[i]t's a dangerous way of thinking.  Who's next? Maybe my grandma who's taking a little more time. ... You want a kid-free flight? Put noise-canceling headphones on. You don't want people to kick you in the back of your seat? Sit in first class or the last row of coach. But kicking kids off planes is just not realistic."

The logistics and legality of seating passengers by height, weight, age, family and so forth raise interesting questions that highlight a tension between the democracy of air travel, on the one hand, and the inconvenience of commercial air travel, on the other hand.

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