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Has the Time Come for Child-Free Cabins?

Squalling children are a fact of travel life. Or at least they have been until recently.

Malaysia Airlines, which became a member of the oneworld alliance on February 1, last year imposed an outright ban on infants in some of its first-class cabins.

And last week, Asian discount carrier AirAsia began offering customers the option of choosing a seat in a child-free “quiet zone” on its A330-300 flights within the Asia-Pacific region.

For the privilege of sitting in the quiet zone, which also features special mood lighting and separate lavatories, flyers will pay between $11 and $36, the surcharges the airline normally imposes to choose a specific seat or book a seat with extra legroom.

Could this be the beginning of an industry-wide trend?

With planes flying fuller than ever—average load factors top 80 percent year-round for most airlines—the claustrophobia quotient is sky high. Which means that many flyers likely would be more than willing to spend a bit more to avoid at least one inflight irritant.

The economics are compelling as well. Designating a special kid-free zone and charging extra for access to it aligns perfectly with the airlines’ relentless search for new sources of revenue.

If the surcharge is a reasonable one, such quiet zones would appear to be a win-win.

Reader Reality Check

Is it fair and reasonable to charge travelers more to sit apart from children?

Would you pay more for the extra peace and quiet?

This article originally appeared on

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