Should there be child-free zones on planes? Wendy Shand, founder of TotsToTravel says YES! But let’s make plane travel much more family friendly!
As mum of 3 and someone with a passion for travel, I know what a nightmare it can be have a child behind you pulling the seat, yelling or wanting to play. And there will always be parents who don’t seem to care or are oblivious to how badly their darlings are behaving. The truth is that most parents care a lot. In fact I think the most stressful bit about travelling with children is worrying that you’re upsetting everyone around you.
We’ve all seen a frazzled mum desperately trying to calm a screaming baby or containing a fidgety toddler so as not to upset fellow passengers. I’ve been there myself! Equally most of us parents remember those carefree days of travelling without kids in tow where you could tut about a screaming baby and then turn up your iPod. None of us want to be on the receiving end of a grump bag and will pull every single trick out of the bag to avoid upsetting fellow passengers.
So maybe creating family friendly spaces on airplanes is a great idea as Air Asia has? And it makes great business sense to charge customers for the peace and quiet of a child free zone.Such zones should reduce the stress on parents. Much better knowing that those who object most about the noise that children make are safely out of the way.
And I think if you’re going to create a Family Zone on airplanes then make it really, truly family friendly. Consider what else would make life easier for families. Restaurants have done it very successfully, why not do the same for air travel? There is definitely a gap in the market to be the family friendly airline of choice.
Many now offer child packs on board containing colouring books and games. Some have designated flight attendants to care for families, whilst others offer toddler friendly food, and nearly all long haul flights have children’s TV programmes and bassinettes for young babies. There are some wonderful examples of airlines that have gone the extra mile and made children welcome on board. I have heard of birthday parties in the sky and of flight attendants playing with, and reading to the children.
I think there’s room to go further … and as far as I know, no one airline has romped ahead and claimed the podium position in this respect. As for the budget airlines…well need I say more?
A change of attitude would be a great starting point. And mums and dads are ready for it. The market for child and baby friendly holidays has exploded over the last 5 years and parents are after more adventure, greater luxury and a bit excitement. Specialist operators, including ourselves (www.totstotravel.co.uk), simply can’t keep up with demand.
This is just another form of tailoring your product to suit the needs of different sectors of the market.
If airlines and parents co-operated, a flight can be an enjoyable experience for everyone on board.
I’m passionate about the importance of child and baby friendly holidays. This quality family time is so precious; let’s get a family’s holiday off to a much more relaxing start by understanding what could help parents out.
So let’s not send families off to the naughty step! Come on airlines! Get your act together and let’s make a flying a better experience for everyone. What do you think? I’d love to hear your views!