Are No-Kid Flying Zones Becoming the New Norm?

Are Are Long lines at check-in. Lost baggage upon arrival. Increased costs in airfare combined with less service. Sufficed to say, the "friendly skies" haven't been friendly for a loooong time. Now, throw in a couple kids and the few hundred items you need to pack for them, and you have a headache waiting to happen. Sure, there are things you can do (starting with keeping a sense of humor!), but more often than not, the flying experience with kids is challenging at best. Recent reports of a mother and crying child being kicked off a plane, and now an airline actually restricting children from certain zones, well, it's enough to push an already stressed-out parent over the edge.

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Yes, it appears I won't be flying to Singapore anytime soon. Scoot, one of the country's budget carriers is now offering (with a $14 upgrade) a "child-free" zone where no one under the age of 12 is allowed to sit (ordinarily I would think Scoot was a cute name for a plane; now I say phooey on them). Not only that, a Malaysian airline began an entire adults-only economy deck just last year. A 2010 New York Times article reported that an increasing number of flyers are pushing for child-free options.

Now listen, travelers. I would never try and argue the positives of sitting next to a crying child on a plane. Or one that is ramming their feet into your chair as you try and sleep. Or doing both at the same time. I get it, I really do. Once, when I was six months pregnant and flying with my 18 month old, a woman refused to sit next to me. She demanded to be put somewhere else because, as she put it, "I've been with kids all weekend. I can't sit next to another one." And the funny thing is, I TOTALLY GOT IT.

But here's where I would argue for a little bit of empathy. Please know that when our child is crying, we are most likely at our wit's end (or skirting the edge). We are doing everything in our power to get the child to be quiet, I promise you. A helping hand, or even a smile in our direction would go a long way. Living in fear that we might get kicked off a plane (or being excluded altogether) isn't helpful to anyone... and it's a far cry away from "friendly." -By Ellen Schmidt

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