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Babies cannot control their surroundings, yet every passenger on an airplane is capable of purchasing noise cancelling headphones. Alas, kicking, screaming and whining inevitably occurs when adults find themselves seated next to a baby on a flight. Japan Airlines, one of the countries largest airlines and a member of the Oneworld alliance, has just launched a new seat map tool, which identifies babies in advance, just in case you would like to distance yourself…

When you make a reservation on Japan Airlines and pull up the seat map to select your perfect seat, you’ll now find a special feature. If there’s a child under the age of 2 on the flight, that passenger will be highlighted with the symbol of an infant. Yep, it’s a map of where all the young kids on the flight are seated, which for many will act as a roadmap of “where not to sit”. The map is found on the airline website after logging into your booking.

According to the BBC, the handy new tool isn’t entirely fool proof, but it’s a brilliant step nonetheless. Japan Airlines told the BBC that some tickets sold through third parties may not properly identify the age, so there’s always potential for things to backfire. Still, some warning is better than none.

I’ve covered the topic of babies in business class, babies in economy and how people should feel about them, and over the years airlines have toyed with ideas like an “infant zone” section to keep young children away from other guests. One thing is abundantly clear: people get worked up about being seated near young children.

Personally, I’ve had more issues with adults acting like children on planes than actual infants, but I get where they people are coming from. There’s less space than ever in most economy seats, and rest is precious. I never mind the noise, but I do certainly mind when parents don’t discipline their children, allowing them to practice the drum solo to “In the Air Tonight” on the back of my seat for hours on end without a word.

Will other airlines copy Japan Airlines? I’d say almost assuredly. No airline likes to be the first to test something, but this is a no harm no foul way of giving warning to the most sensitive passengers who are most likely to complain. If they ignore the warnings, they have only themselves to blame…

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