AirAsia we need to talk

February 04, 2013

Today’s news on CNN.com includes a story about AirAsia X’s decision to ban children ages 12 and under from the first seven rows of economy class for flights to China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Australia and Nepal. This is just the most recent airline to decide that children are not equal. AirAsia X’s CEO, Azran Osman-Rani is quoted as saying this is a “heavenly package for those who want peace of mind.”

This is offensive. Every parent, grandparent and anyone that was ever a child (that means everyone!) should be outraged that in 2013, an airline CEO is discriminating against our youngest passengers.  Why? Because children might be noisy and disruptive to the other passengers.

Well, let me tell you about noisy and disruptive. In the more than 150 flights my 3 year old has been on, he has never been the noisiest or the person that’s been the most disruptive. No, that honour has always been reserved for an adult on the flight: not a child. Not a teenager. Someone over the age of 18. The same age that is now allowed to purchase a seat in the “heavenly section” on AirAsia X. I’m not suggesting that children are always quiet and happy to be fastened in their seat and I’m not going to say that my son and daughter have never spilt water on the seat of an airplane or cried when their ears hurt. However, they do not jump out of their seats before the seat belt sign comes on to open the overhead bin, they don’t push in front of others when they “really have to go” to the washroom and when the flight attendant asks what they’d like to drink they say “may I please have…..”.

 I am suggesting that AirAsia X (and any other airline that pretends that children are the problem during air travel) is out to lunch and should be in another line of work.  We’ve encountered drunk passengers who have been rude, surly and more than disruptive.  How many flights have you heard of that have been diverted because of unruly children? The story this past weekend of a flight being diverted was due to adults smoking on board. We have all heard of flights being diverted for medical emergencies, are airlines going to add a health exam for travellers? Unlikely. Why? Because passengers won’t put up with it and passengers should not support airlines singling out children and families. It is unacceptable and sets a dangerous precedent.

If Emirates can have a kid-friendly frequent flyer program, Lufthansa chef designed menus and a Jetfriends Lounge for kids, Air NewZealand a sky couch that turns into a play area in the back of the plane, Gulf Air an on-board sky nanny service, Singapore Air can team with Hasbro and a policy that seats parents and kids in bulkhead, British Airways has a feed kids first policy and Quantas Family Zones in airports and kid packs on board, then surely parents should choose not to fly with AirAsia X.

Airlines are a business, I understand that and they are entitled to make up the rules for their customers as they wish. I think this one is short sighted. Last I checked, children in their own seats are paying customers and so are the adults with whom they are traveling.

My view: if a business doesn’t offer the same level of service for you as everyone else, take your business elsewhere.

3 additional bassinets on board is not going to cut it.

AirAsia X: you and I should talk.

Happy Travels.

 

 


Return to News & Blog