Research suggests children are the number one annoyance for business class airline passengers. Could this prompt the introduction of kid-free cabins – or is it just too difficult for airlines to create peaceful havens?
A survey of 1,000 business travellers by the Business Travel & Meeting Show reveals that nearly three-quarters find children the most annoying thing about their flights.
Whilst many of us won’t be too surprised by this result, it does beg the question of whether all passengers, regardless of seat type, should have the option to sit in a designated quiet area of the plane.
Or could things be taken one step further with the introduction of adult-only flights, targeted at business travellers ‘commuting’ on prime business routes?
A quick glance at the British Airways website gives an overview of the different business class seats available. A Club World seat will give you ‘the flexibility to sleep, work and relax so you arrive refreshed and ready for the day ahead’ – a statement that makes no guarantees of a quiet cabin.
And how could it when seats are available to those travelling for ‘business or pleasure’? You can’t just ban families who wish to travel in a little more comfort. So what exactly constitutes a relaxing flight? I’m sure the expectations for families and business travellers are likely to be very different. So can the service be tailored accordingly?
Are quiet cabins the answer?
Quiet coaches have long been adopted by some train operators, catering for passengers who want to travel without the disruption of mp3 players and mobile phones. Could something similar be adopted by airlines – a separate ‘quiet’ cabin, perhaps with a volume restrictor on the in-flight entertainment too?
I guess the main problem is pure logistics. Do you just introduce one quiet cabin or do you have a section in all classes of the aircraft? What about short haul or charter flights where the demand for different types of seat will vary greatly depending on the destination, time and month of your flight.
Unlike long-haul flights, short-haul and charters tend to give the option of buying an on-board meal. Seating on the aircraft is then allocated accordingly, with passengers who are eating often grouped together – a new quiet cabin would therefore make it trickier for the cabin crew to hand out the meals.
Add additional requests for window, isle and extra leg-room seats to the equation and the quiet cabin ideology no longer appears as quite as straightforward. And, at what age do we decide a ‘child’ is no longer a potential annoyance?
Would you pay for peace and quiet?
Long-haul flights are the more likely candidate for these quiet zones. Cabin areas are often already defined to cater for the various categories of economy and business class passengers, so an additional class would be more acceptable. But at what cost?
Unless taking seats away from the economy area, it is likely that the airlines would need to charge an increased fare for passengers in quiet seats – covering the potential need for increased cabin staff or the loss of revenue that may arise from the reorganisation of the cabin.
I would consider paying extra to sit in a quiet area on a long haul flight – a decision based as much on annoying adults as a potential crying baby. Sometimes you just want to read a book or close your eyes ‘so you can arrive refreshed and ready for the day ahead’!