In an effort to help passengers avoid screaming babies on planes, Japan Airlines (JAL) has launched a new online booking tool that shows where young children will be seated — a feature that sparked much debate online about the intolerance of children.
JAL recently announced that it would begin displaying child icons on the seat map where passengers had booked seats for children aged between eight days and two years old.
“This lets other passengers know a child may be sitting there,” the airline says.
The feature thereby allows travellers who want to avoid sitting near young children to know how close any babies or infants might be when reserving their seat.
“Every airline should implement this on international flights,” one customer said online. Rahat Ahmed thanked JAL on Twitter for warning him “about where babies plan to scream and yell during a 13 hour trip. This really ought to be mandatory across the board.”
While some welcomed JAL’s move and even called on other airlines to follow suit, others warned that the airline’s policy facilitated the intolerance of children.
“We need to learn tolerance or will soon start needing a map of seat locations for mouth breathers, droolers, farters, drunks, and perhaps a lot more things in life,” Twitter user Gsundar said in a lengthy social media debate.
“Marketing it this way just creates more division and prejudice in society,” Faaiza Bashir tweeted.
“A nice way to do this would be to have a family section,” she added.
While pooling families on airplanes is not common practice, some national railways, such as Germany’s Deutsche Bahn, do provide dedicated family spaces and separate quiet zones on trains.
Some Japanese social media users were not surprised such a feature came from a company in Japan, where kindergartens often encounter a not-in-my-backyard attitude and a baby buggy is often frowned upon on a train. – dpa