It’s very stressful to fly with a child, especially a baby. They don’t really know what’s going on, they hate sitting still, and for the smallest ones, just the pressure of the cabin changing is enough to set them off screaming for the duration of the trip. Even one baby losing it on a flight can make that metal tube hurtling through the sky into a temporary hell for everyone. Parents don’t have much choice but to endure it, but what about the rest of us?
A man named Rahat Ahmed tweeted about a policy on Japan Airlines which lets you see where kids are seated throughout the plane when you book your ticket.
That way, you can try to strategically avoid all the young people on board. He took a screenshot of how the seat selection page looks and wrote (somewhat rudely), “Thank you, @JAL_Official_jp for warnings me about where babies plan to scream and yell during a 13-hour trip. This really ought to be mandatory across the board. Please take note, @qatarairways: I had 3 screaming babies next to me on my JFK-DOH flight two weeks ago.”
Thank you, @JAL_Official_jp for warnings me about where babies plan to scream and yell during a 13 hour trip. This really ought to be mandatory across the board.
— Rahat Ahmed (@dequinix) September 24, 2019
The feature is real, but the BBC reports that Japan Airlines has said it’s not foolproof. If someone books a seat through a third party website, it might not show up that they’re accompanied by a minor. I also wondered what happens if you book in an empty row and then someone takes the seats next to you with a baby in one of them. Do you get a notification?
But most comments on Ahmed’s tweets aren’t about the practical logistics of this feature, they’re mostly from angry parents telling him he’s being an a**hole for even suggesting he doesn’t want to sit next to a baby:
MORON. I took my then 8mth old son to Perth with @qatarairways who were brilliant with him, taking it in turns to help us rock him, feed him etc. I can assure you flying with an infant is extremely stressful for the parents made worse by knowing there are people like you judging.
— Marcus Ward (@MarcusWardUK) September 26, 2019
It’s true that parents often feel judged when their baby is losing their crap in public. We shouldn’t judge parents, because yes, babies do cry. They especially cry on planes. It’s no one’s fault. They’re babies. It’s also no one’s fault that the sound of a baby crying is excruciating and not something anyone voluntarily wants to be near when the baby is not their own child. But parents seem to think Ahmed is being intolerant of baby culture:
Yes! Listen to this man! Discount his ticket as well! I’ll gladly pay extra for people like him to not be around my kids for as long as possible.
— Bart (@bart613) September 26, 2019
Make parents & infants fly together and allow anyone without kids to fly with a similar group of people. Sorted
— Zyshan Aryf (@zyshanaryf) September 26, 2019
I fly with mine and I have to say I never get that feeling even if they do scream the place down – which happens occasionally. They’re only babies, after all.
— Tim Ricketts (@tim1rick) September 26, 2019
How very ☹️. We were all babies once. Crying babies is all part of life. A little tolerance and respect would not go amiss. I also find venture capitalists offensive JAL. Can you mark them out so I don’t have to sit next to them please?
— euan macp Esq. (@MacpEuan) September 26, 2019
@JAL_Official_jp if this is such a big deal, plz offer maps of alcoholics, people who consume meat & smelly food as vegans would oppose, those who smell & never bathe or with unpleasant odours from front or back. This is outright discrimination and needs to be undone
— Make It Better (@makeitbetterbot) September 26, 2019
Looking forward to being warned where intolerant adults will be sitting so I can book my toddler’s seat next to them. This really ought to be mandatory across the board.
— GadgetMargaret (@GadgetMargaret) September 26, 2019
Not sure why all these parents want someone who doesn’t like the sound of babies seated next to them, but here we are! A few people pointed out reasons why this feature might be positive for folks who have larger issues than being annoyed by children:
As someone on the autism spectrum, this would be an absolute life saver on flights. Noise cancelling headphones can only do so much when the screaming baby is literally one or two seats away, and it’s often not enough.
— really angry weeb (@Angeryweeb) September 27, 2019
I have no issue with this. Yes, empathy, etc. However, everyone is different. Some are less tolerant, some may have disabilities or medical conditions. This helps everyone. I have no prob w it. Everyone needs to relax & consider all possibilities. pic.twitter.com/n6RwRNeztZ
— PR_TechGuy (@PRTECHGUY) September 26, 2019
Also this could work well for parents too because passenger who will sit close to them should already know that there might be a baby close to them.
— Luna (@chat_noir_210) September 27, 2019
And Ahmed defended himself after getting so much criticism:
Safely in New York. Amazing service as usual by @JAL_Official_jp. Ironically chose to sat next to several babies on my two flights: Some great, some loud. It happens. Some adults were worse.
— Rahat Ahmed (@dequinix) September 26, 2019
There’s no way to make the world perfectly suit all your needs, but I think it’s okay to book a comfortable seat for yourself on a plane, whatever that means. Japan Airlines is just trying to help.