Quiet, kid-free zone takes off on AirAsia

Kelly O'Mara

Kids under 12 years old are no longer welcome – at least not in the first seven rows of economy flights on AirAsiaX, the low-budget arm of AirAsia that flies to China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Australia and Nepal.

In a press release launching the new “Quiet Zone” at the beginning of February, CEO Azran Osman-Rani called it, “A heavenly package for those who want peace of mind” – and presumably just some regular old peace and quiet.

Although the airline is calling its kid-free zone the Quiet Zone, that won’t stop adults from chattering your ear off. Passengers traveling without children can choose seats in the zone by paying the airline’s standard seat-picking fee of either $11 or $35.50, for a regular seat or one with extra legroom.

The zone will be separated from the rest of economy by toilets and a bulkhead, and it will be accompanied by softer lighting for a more relaxing flight. The slight barrier between the kid-free area and the regular passengers is intended to cut down on noise from screaming babies, though, much like a no-smoking section in a restaurant or a no-peeing section in a pool, it’ll only do so much good.

Osman-Rani also took pains to point out that they’re not banning kids, but “simply enhancing the array of product offerings on board to suit its guests.” In fact, the airline also offers bassinets for babies -- at least one of which, according to their seat chart, is located directly in front of the Quiet Zone in the premium section of the plane.

AirAsia's main competitor, Malaysia Airlines, began offering its own child-free service in 2011, banning kids from business class and from the upper-deck economy section on its A380 planes. That decision caused controversy and an uproar from parents. At least some people were happy with it though, since the airline extended the policy to more of its planes last year.

So far the two Malaysian airlines are the only ones to offer kid-free flying. It’s most likely only a matter of time before the idea catches on with Western airlines. Southwest, I’m looking at you.