An airline in Japan is warning passengers in advance about babies on flights by putting icons on the seat map
Flying with babies isn’t tops on any parent’s list of things they enjoy doing, and for good reason. Traveling by plane can be uncomfortable and annoying even for adults, but unlike little ones, adults usually don’t sob and scream about what a terrible time they’re having — they just order another vodka tonic and try to find a decent in-flight movie to pass the time. But babies being babies, they sometimes cry and fellow passengers usually aren’t big fans. Now, an airline is trying to give a heads’ up on the seating chart so folks can avoid traveling side-by-side with small people — and while that might sound genius, there are some flaws in this plan.
Instagram account The Points Guy alerted his followers to a seat map from Japan Airlines that included baby icons over the seats where little ones were going to be. “Notice anything special about this @japanairlines_jal seating chart? 👶 That’s right- the Japanese flag-carrier is now showing where infants are sitting so you can choose your seat accordingly,” he writes.
The carrier says on their website that the icon will be displayed for passengers between the ages of eight days and two years old. “This lets other passengers know a child may be sitting there,” they explain.
Cool. While there’s no doubt understandable appeal to this little system for all parties involved (because what parent traveling with a baby wants to sit near someone who will be annoyed by their child’s every whimper?) there’s also a whole lot of giant downsides.
Like, does anyone else get an immediate ick feeling realizing that some bad actors on a plane might purposely try to sit near a baby for not-so-great reasons? I wouldn’t be thrilled knowing that my baby’s presence on a flight was known possibly months beforehand — that just doesn’t feel safe.
Another pitfall that comes to mind for those of us who typically wait until the very last minute to select their seats is knowing that someone might be stuck next to you and your baby — and not happy about that being their only choice.
I mean, come on parents, would could possibly be more anxiety-inducing when boarding a flight with your infant than knowing there’s a chance someone is already mad at you before they’ve even arrived? Before your baby’s even had a chance to be a jerk?
And as The Points Guy says, this is definitely possibly shame-y for parents. It totally is, actually. It’s not like Japan Airlines plopped those baby emojis on there because fellow passengers are clamoring to sit next to tiny travelers. As it is, many parents of little ones board their flights knowing full well how many people are going to cringe at the very sight of them walking down the aisle. Some even come prepared with little treat bags full of earplugs, candy, and other assorted goodies in an attempt to buy some sympathy.
Not to mention, how many other incredibly irksome types might a traveler end up next to who they’d really rather not? I was seated on a red-eye to Rome last summer and the entire row behind us was a bunch of high school kids who would not shut up or stop kicking the backs of my entire family’s seats for hours and hours on end? Would’ve appreciated that heads up. Or maybe the guy who watches movies on his laptop without headphones on? Or the one who will take a little too eager advantage of the alcohol offerings on the beverage cart and become a belligerent drunken ass halfway across the Atlantic? So many possibly awful seat buddies that plenty of us would like to avoid. Give me a crying baby any day over most of them.
Hopefully, this little trend won’t catch fire with all the other carriers, because it sounds like a nightmare. Stay strong out there, flying parents — we’re with you.
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