Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Airplane Passengers Want End to Crying Kids.
The Human Air Horn
Jason Notte 06/22/10 - 12:28 PM EDT

In its annual consumer survey of 1,200 passengers released yesterday, travel site
AirfareWatchdog found that 68% want passengers traveling with children confined to a separate section of the airplane.

Oddly, several of those who firmly believe that the price of one's ticket doesn't entitle them to bring a human air horn on to an eight-hour flight are travelling parents themselves -- as 83% of respondents traveled with children in the past year.

Not surprisingly, this notion hasn't gained much traction with airlines. With Delta(DAL), United(UAUA), Continental(CAL) and other network airlines combining for a $275 million operating loss in the fourth quarter, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, they and their low-cost counterparts are rushing to present themselves as family friendly. Segregating children to one area of the plane and sequestering them from the unfettered flying masses likely flies in the face of that strategy.

Another reason airlines aren't biting: Passengers want everyone a few seats removed from them. AirfareWatchdog's survey also found that 51% of passengers don't want pets in the cabin and that passengers' biggest fears about a potential seatmate included "sick or coughing" at No. 1 and "overweight" at No. 2.

Also, passengers tend to bluster about this topic quite a bit. When AirfareWatchdog conducted a similar survey in 2008, 85% of respondents wanted passengers with children placed elsewhere in the cabin, with 58% saying airlines "should have done this a long time ago." Why the nearly 20 percentage point dropoff?

In the 2008 survey, 27% admitted such a plan would never work -- with the Air Transportation Association admitting that increasingly crowded flights would make a child section "logistically difficult." Plus, as any passenger who's gone coast-to-coast with a crying child can tell you, tantrums eventually tire themselves out.
-- Written by Jason Notte in Boston.

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