This doesn’t surprise me.
Sure, it’s just one part of the plane, but airlines have been telegraphing for a while that they’d rather families with children not fly. I don’t know if any of these are the same airlines that now charge extra for family members to sit together during flights, but it’s another nail in the coffin for air travel where our family is concerned. My guess is the “kid free” zone would make it even harder for families to sit together on crowded flights, because they have fewer seats to chose from.
Actually, it’s a combination of things. Now that our kids are over the age where we could hold them in our laps, they have to have seats (and tickets, of course) of their own. Plus, now we practically have to factor in an extra ticket for our luggage, due to “extra baggage” charges. This is why our family hasn’t flown in ages. Visiting family meant enduring 12-hour drives (both ways) but even with hotel stays is came out cheaper than flying, and with a lot less hassle.
Then you have to factor in the possibility that we might not be sitting with our kids, unless we (a) pay extra or (b) find someone willing to switch seats with us. Parker might be OK, but I can’t imagine Dylan would be OK sitting by himself, next to strangers, without of one of us with him.
(On the other hand, if I’m feeling particularly evil and its a long flight, I might let them sit the kids together. wait for Dylan to start annoying his big brother), see how long it takes before a flight attendant has to fetch one of us, and then add in my sweetest possible voice “I’m so sorry. This would be so much easier if the we could be with the kids. After all, kids need parents, even on planes.”
It makes me wonder if someday this won’t be an April Fools joke.
Here’s the thing, though. Since I’ve had kids, I don’t complain about them on planes, because I’ve been one of “those parents” with the crying baby, the toddler who hasn’t had/won’t take his nap, the child who’s crying because the change in pressure hurts his ears, and the kid who’s had to sit still on the plane for longer than he has most of his life. I know that (a) if it’s not fun for the other passengers, it’s even less fun for the parents, who have to deal with calming their child and bearing up under the annoyed glares of other passengers.
I think the result is just going to be fewer families flying, unless their destination is close enough to reach by automobile, or the train is convenient. Maybe families don’t fly often enough to make their business a priority or profit-center for airlines. For a lot of families this means visits to grandparents will likely have to be replace by Skype or Facetime sessions.