Summer holidays might seem like a dim and distant memory now – but how would you feel if you were booking a family trip, only to discover that your kids weren't allowed to sit in certain sections of the plane?
That could soon be a reality, if other airlines decide to follow in the footsteps of Indian budget airline IndiGo, which has just made its premium seats a no-go area for children under 12.
Why? So that customers who don't wish to be seated near noisy nippers can enjoy sitting in the 'quiet zone'.
The airline said:
'Keeping in mind the comfort and convenience of all passengers, row numbers one to four and 11 to 14 are generally kept as a Quiet Zone on IndiGo flights. These zones have been created for business travellers who prefer to use the quiet time to do their work.'
Hmm. I'm not sure what to think about this. On the one I'd welcome childfree seating on planes because it might help make flying with kids less stressful for parents. I hate the feeling, when flying with babies in particular, that all the passengers around you are pretty much praying to be seated nowhere near you, even if your kid isn't particularly noisy or disruptive. Knowing that I'm not going to have to apologise for my children's existence on a plane – because those who don't wish to be seated near children could book the premium seats – would make me stress less about travelling with the kids.
But how many of those intolerant eye-rolling travellers would actually book the premium seats? What if people choose not to pay extra to be seated away from families, and still end up muttering under their breath about having to listen to crying or incessant toddler chat?
And a big part of me thinks this is a pretty sinister move away from the kind of tolerant society we should be. Marking out areas of a plane as child-free sends a pretty clear signal to parents that their offspring aren't exactly being welcomed with open arms.
So, on balance, I think kid-free zones on planes are a bad idea, and one which only perpetuates the problem of making families feel like they're burdening people with their very presence.
Can you imagine the furore if an airline started having designated areas where other sectors of society aren't allowed to sit? An OAP-free zone? No teenagers? What's the difference between that and kid-free zones, and don't they both amount to discrimination, at the end of the day?
We'd love to hear what you think about child-free zones on planes. Good idea or bad? Leave us a comment, join the conversation over on our Facebook page and take part in our poll.