Back in 1985 when Longtime Buddy Trevor and I were flying from Johannesburg to the U.S. on our first trip together, I recall that as we took our seats (center two seats in the 6-across row), I looked around and saw that we were literally surrounded by families with babies — I mean, two babies in the row in front, three in the row behind, and two on each side.
The flight from JNB – JFK used to take about 17 hours, with a refueling stop in the Canary Islands en route. I could see that a lengthy period of pain was shortly about to begin, so I called a flight attendant over, and very quietly asked if she could find another family with babies elsewhere on the plane, and see if we could swap seats with them. She cast a glance around our seats, and a look of total sympathy came over her face. “Give me a couple of minutes”, she said, and headed off.
She was true to her word. “I found a couple with a baby who’ll swap — but they’re quite far back. Would that be okay with you two?”
She hadn’t even finished the sentence when Trevor and I were standing up, bags at ready. We even helped the couple with their baby stuff to our seats.
Nowadays, of course, airlines have made such an action almost impossible, what with fees and the deliberate splitting up of couples and families so that they can inflict “change fees” on us all, the bastards.
So I see this action as a step in the right direction:
The Turkish-Dutch airline Corendon Airlines is testing an “Only Adult” zone on flights between Amsterdam and Curaçao starting in November, according to a press release.
This area will be located at the front of the Airbus A350-900 aircraft and consists of nine XL seats with additional legroom and 93 standard seats.
I have no problem with people traveling with infants — hell, if they want to inflict that on themselves, then all power to ’em — and indeed, this is especially true when said families are bringing over Beloved Grandchildren to see Nana and Oupa. Not that I’m biased, or anything.
But let’s be honest: babies are noisy (not to say noisome) little beasts, and I can certainly sympathize with those who don’t want to endure a long-haul flight with their ears assaulted by wails which can easily drown out the sound of the jet engines.
And if it were that much of a problem for me (it isn’t really), I have no issue with an airline offering me an option to buy a little peace and quiet.
Afterthought: I was amazed that “Amsterdam – Curaçao” even existed as a fight option, but a cursory glance showed that Curaçao is one of the several connecting points from Europe to the West Indies, most notably to Aruba (still a Dutch colony).
…not that I’m suggesting anything, of course.