a row of seats in an airplane

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.

seats in an airplane with a television screenAccording 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.

a white airplane on a runwayPersonally, 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…

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Noise canceling headphones Do Nothing to screen out screaming kids. Stop perpetuating this fallacy. There is no escape, even foam earplugs do not help. I have had many TPAC flights ruined by screaming kids. The selfish self-centered parents should be required to reimburse the cabin for their ruined flights!

  2. “Family” zoned cabins would be a better solution. What is to stop a family with infant(s) choosing seats next to me AFTER I have reserved my seat ?

  3. Babies under 2 are generally in bassinet seats: if you’re stupid enough to sit in a bassinet seat on or around a major public holiday (which people regularly do) I have absolutely no sympathy. Most babies don’t actually cry for that long not least because they get tried and fall asleep.

    There’s far too many exaggerated complaints about babies. Toddlers whose parents don’t tell them off is a different story…..

  4. It’s not just the noise. I took a flight recently where the parents wouldn’t change their kid’s diaper. So I was stuck smelling a dirty diaper for four-plus hours. Between pushing on the back of my seat with their feet, hitting me in the head repeatedly I’d like to sit as far away as possible.

  5. Ung. You know if the noise cancelling technology actually worked like this, Bose would be worth trillions selling Spouse Cancelling Headphones.

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