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August 29, 2021

Would you pay extra to sit in a child-free zone on planes and trains?

Unruly children remain the biggest in-flight annoyance for the majority of travellers -- ahead of drunken passengers, surly cabin crew and over-talkative neighbours, according to a recent survey.

One in three passengers dread sitting next to a crying baby or annoying toddler so much that they would be prepared to pay more to sit in a child-free zone on a plane ... as much as $75 per return flight.

Children kicking the back of seats was seen as the most annoying in-flight incident, receiving 74% of the votes, while children crying or being unruly was chosen by 61% of those surveyed.

But help is at hand. One Singapore airline is now offering passengers the option to upgrade to seats in a quiet zone -- where children are nowhere to be found.

While not the only Asian airline to set aside a cabin section that's off limit to kids, the low-cost carrier, which flies to Sydney and the Gold Coast from Singapore, has taken things to the next level.

The airline has banned kids under 12 from the first few rows of its economy-class section. What's more, passengers can opt to sit in the 41-seat ScootinSilence area.

Each seat in the child-free area comes with extra leg room with a pitch of up to 35 inches -- four more inches than their standard economy seat. The cost? Less than $20.

Both low cost airlines are assessing the appeal of larger adults-only sections as a way of extracting additional revenue. Although North American carriers have yet to institute similar policies, it's certainly worth considering.

Should airlines have kids-free zones? Or is that discriminatory? How much more would you be willing to pay for such a seat?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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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...