Children on stage in elementary school
Photograph ©2010 by Brian Cohen.

Children Not Allowed in Premium Seats on This Airline

S eats in rows 1-4 and 11-14 in the premium class cabins aboard airplanes operated by IndiGo have been designated as quiet zones and they cannot be booked in advance for unaccompanied minors and children younger than 12 years of age — resulting in the airline facing criticism as a result of adopting this particularly controversial policy of not permitting children younger than 12 years of age to sit the premium seats, which have extra leg space, better armrests and seat cushioning.

The airline — whose headquarters is based in Gurgaon, India — is supposedly following the international norm of creating quiet zones aboard airplanes — but parents are considering patronizing other airlines which are more friendly to children.

“I will prefer another child-friendly airlines if IndiGo follows this policy,” a mother of two children younger than 12 years of age said, according to this article written by Asmita Sarkar for International Business Times, India. “They could have specific time slots for child-free zones instead of a blanket rule. If it works for IndiGo’s business, good for them, but I would choose another airline.”

This is an official statement from IndiGo pertaining to the policy:

“IndiGo endeavours to extend courteous and hassle free experience to all passengers (that includes both leisure and corporate travellers) who wish to fly with the airline. Keeping in mind the comfort and convenience of all passengers — row number 1 to 4 and 11 to 14 are allocated as ‘quiet zone’ on IndiGo flights. Creating ‘quiet zone’ for passengers on board is an international practice, in both full service and low cost airlines — and IndiGo’s said policy is in-line with the global practice.”

The policy will be examined by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation in India.

Should Children Be Banned From the Premium Class Cabin?

I asked the question slightly greater than two years ago of whether or not children should be banned from sitting in the premium class cabin aboard an airplane during flights; and comments from readers of The Gate suggest that opinions are mixed.

After already having banned babies from the first class cabin on its Boeing 747-400 aircraft, an announcement from Malaysia Airlines in June of 2011 revealed that the ban would also be imposed upon delivery of its first Airbus A380 aircraft in June of 2012 — but that controversial decision was rescinded and abandoned only a month after the announcement.

Even more confusing was that the ban — originally thought to affect all babies — was then thought to only affect those “lap children” who did not have their own seat.

Child-Free Zones Aboard Airplanes?

For many years, frequent fliers have debated about what to do with babies who cry during flights — as well as whether or not babies should be allowed to be seated in the premium class cabin on an airplane.

There are usually two sides to this debate: people who defend the parents who travel with babies; and those who are adamant that babies do not belong on airplanes — period.

Despite being a mother herself, add Kelly-Rose Bradford to the latter side of this debate, as she publicly called for child-free zones on airplanes recently during an appearance on a talk show televised in the United Kingdom: “We’ve got business class, we’ve got first class – why can’t we have a family-only section?”

This is not new. Back on Saturday, December 11, 2010, passengers pushed for child-free flights because the second biggest fear of flying is apparently sitting next to a screaming, kicking, uncontrollable child.

“Deal With It”

In an article originally posted in May 2008 about being a passenger on an airplane near a crying baby during a flight, Steven Frischling of Flying With Fish simply said: “Deal with it.”

I would not go so far as to simply say “deal with it”, but I do believe that some compassion is in order. Unfortunately, the days where members of extended families lived within minutes of each other are long gone. Using my extended family as an example, there was a time where most of those family members lived in the New York City area. Due to a number of causes and reasons which occurred over the years, I eventually had family members in all four corners of the United States, including the Seattle, San Diego, Fort Lauderdale and New York areas, as well as Washington, D.C. and other areas — and where I am based is located nowhere near any of these locations.

The Stress of Crying Babies

When a baby starts crying, my eyes tend to roll and a deep sigh is emitted from my mouth, as I am not exactly the most patient person in the world. However, I do understand that the discomfort a baby may experience can be painful primarily due to the sudden changes in air pressure. Being confined to a small space in a strange environment for hours does not exactly help the situation either. I also understand that no parent wants to purposely see their new child suffer. Parents will usually do what they can to comfort their baby, and they are usually conscious about the effect the crying and screaming has on fellow passengers. Many parents can usually calm their baby within 15 minutes or so. That is certainly reasonable, in my opinion.

Traveling with a baby can be stressful enough — especially when it comes to scheduling and all of the extra items needed with which to transport, such as a car seat, bottles and diapers. Despite the discomfort of a crying baby, there is no need for fellow passengers to unnecessarily stress the parents further with anti-baby rhetoric. Nothing gets solved as a result.

My gripe, however, is the parent who is too lazy to do anything about the crying, screaming baby. That is inconsiderate to fellow passengers as well as to the baby. If a parent is not willing to do whatever is possible to ensure that the baby is as comfortable as possible and has as little effect as possible on fellow passengers, then the parent should either consider alternate modes of transporting the baby — or not travel at all with the baby. In my opinion, it is unfair to have a baby crying and screaming throughout a flight — unfair to both the baby and fellow passengers.

By the way, my stance in medicating a baby is to not do so unless absolutely necessary. Drugs should always be a solution of last resort, in my opinion.


The cries of a screaming baby irritate me just as much as the next person. However, not allowing babies on flights simply because they are babies smacks of a form of discrimination. Families should be allowed and encouraged to gather to spend as much time with each other as possible. It is not the fault of the baby if members of the family live so far apart from each other, whatever may be the reasons…

…so is the answer a zone or special section aboard the airplane reserved for passengers with babies and young children? I do not think so. I remember the days when airlines still allowed smoking sections aboard their aircraft, and I was the unfortunate person who was usually assigned a seat immediately in front of that section, inhaling enough smoke to last me a lifetime and then some. Similarly, what would be the difference of a passenger sitting in that section or within a few rows near it, as that passenger will still be subject to the screaming and crying? Besides, an airline would most likely not consider the expense necessary to properly implement such a concept.

Although there are ways to distance yourself from the annoyance of a screaming baby — such as noise-cancelling headphones, as recommended by Frischling — I am not going to go buy a pair simply for that reason. As I have noted previously numerous times — in this article, for example — I prefer to pack as light as possible and take as few items as possible; so purchasing noise-cancelling headphones is currently out of the question for me. Besides, I would rather use the money on something else.

In the meantime, this article further discusses zones aboard airplanes which are free of children — and entire airplanes for some flights on which children are not permitted to be passengers — as well as provides 12 helpful tips on traveling with children.

Photograph used with permission.

  1. The idea of banning kids from certain zones is preposterous and mean-spirited. There are other behaviors that are equally as bad that we have to endure as part of a culture that allows expression and deeply opposes discrimination. When I sit next to a porker I’m furious that his/her lifestyle is infringing upon mine. When someone takes his shoes of and sits barefooted I want to whip out the brass knuckles. How about those with poor hygiene or bad breath? On a flight to London from RDU a few years back a large group of some sect of Jews brought in its own food. OMG. I’d have taken a baby over that stench any day.

    Inconvenience and downright discomfort is the price we pay in a free society. If we ban kids where does it end? And if you would rather spend your money on something else than a pair of Bose QCs then shut up and stop complaining. Your clearly prioritizing something else over an option that would largely alleviate the issue. I know because I have a pair of QC 25s and they are magical.

    Take away the word baby and insert Muslim, fatties, elderly, minority, orthodox, gay, republican and so many more and you’d be laughed out of the room. Discrimination of any kind is wrong as it begs the if not why not sequitur.


    Blind Squirrel

  2. I am a father who travels frequently with his baby. My wife specifically believes babies should be restricted from certain parts of the plane, and when I have talked with her about us all going somewhere in First Class she immediately pushes back stating that the people who paid for those seats are paying for comfort – and part of that comfort is not having to even worry about whether or not a baby might blow up on them.

    My frustration with this topic is that it is positioned as “all or nothing”. If someone wants to pay extra to sit in an area where they don’t have to be around babies, I fail to see the harm in that. In fact, an adult is liable to experience discomfort and stress from their proximity to a baby in the plane. No baby experiences any such thing *based on their seating location*. So from my perspective, complaints may be shrouded in a grand noble cry for sensitivity towards babies, but the truth is it boils down to parents putting their own “right” to convenience over the rights of *everybody* else.

    I wouldn’t complain if I was graciously turned away from a 5-star restaurant because they have a “nobody under 10 years old” rule, and I won’t complain if I’m not allowed to force my baby into a cabin with 20 other people who paid an *up-charge* equivalent to 4 or 5 months of mortgage payments for a few hours of added upgraded comfort and peace-and-quiet. Sorry, I’m just not that selfish.

  3. @jeff
    I don’t have kids unless you count my furry four-legged boy a child. Yes, he does travel on planes with me, but in a Sherpa bag strapped around my shoulders. So no, I don’t necessarily have a dog in this fight…teehee. But what you are proposing is skirting on blatant discrimination.

    This is not a theater or a restaurant we are talking about. This is a critical mode of transportation. So what should we do? Ban kids in first class? At what age? Ban them from upgraded coach? Ban them from strategically-optimal aisle seats? Be careful what you ask for.

    Even the longest domestic flights are 5-5.5 hours (I’ve flown international business class at least 40 times – I used to work for Delta – and maybe encountered a baby once up front). A small duration to tolerate a baby given what is says about us as a culture if we ban them from certain classes of service. All this BS because people who fly in first are too damned cheap to buy a pair of headphones?

    Go fuck yourselves and get over yourselves you cheap bastards. Talk about selfish. How ironic.

    Funny but sad and yes, discriminatory.

    Again, be careful what you ask for.


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