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April 06, 2021

Child-free flights coming to Ryanair: good idea?

For an airline that services exactly zero North American destinations, Ryanair sure makes a lot of headlines this side of the Atlantic.

690096_silent_scream A quick rundown of its recent polarizing campaigns, all recognizable by just three hyphenated words: the “pay-to-pee” policy; the “only-one-pilot” initiative; and the “standing-room-flights” movement.

But for all the Dublin-based outfit’s bluster, there’s a reason the budget airline thrives – which is to say, it takes a no-nonsense approach to giving the customer just what it wants, no matter the PR consequence.

Ryanair’s latest strategy? Child-free flights, a decision every traveler has an opinion on, whether they’ll voice it or not.

Following a Europe-wide survey, which showed half of respondents would pay higher fares to avoid flying alongside other people’s kids, Ryanair announced on Apr. 1st it would offer child-free flights starting this fall.

Now, you’d be forgiven for thinking a Ryanair stunt unveiled on April Fools’ Day might be suspect, but the airline insists the plan is real. In fact, the idea of child-free flights has been bouncing around Europe as far back as 2008, when airfarewatchdog.com found 85 per cent of Euro travellers thought breaking a plane into “those with children” and “those without” was a good way to go.

In North America, though, the thought hasn’t made much of a public stir. You’ve probably had a flight hampered by a kicking or screaming kid here – and, parents, you most likely don’t care for the sneers you get when you may be the most embarrassed person onboard – but it probably wouldn’t play well for North American airlines to propose separating children on flights. Families are big money in the travel biz, and the risk of alienating such a lucrative demographic could prove costly.

Yet that doesn’t mean travellers wouldn’t bite on the idea. Since Ryanair’s April 1st announcement, interest has surely been piqued in Canada and the U.S. (“April Fools’ joke or just a good idea?” read one L.A. Times headline in reaction to the story).

Would you be in favour of child-free flights? If so, would you pay more for the option to fly in a different section from toddlers?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money

*Follow Jason on Twitter here.



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...