Families could be segregated from other passengers on planes or banned from flying on certain flights if campaigners hoping to persuade airlines to introduce adult-only flights get their way.
Major carriers such as BA, Virgin Atlantic and Emirates are being urged to consider child-free flights or ‘zones’ after a survey revealed that three quarters of business-class travellers found youngsters on planes irritating.
If the airlines, keen to keep lucrative business and first-class travellers happy, went ahead, planes could introduce ‘quiet cabins’ similar to those currently operated on railway services in the UK.
Among those spearheading the campaign for adult-only areas is travel writer Dave Richardson.
Mr Richardson told The Daily Express: ‘It would work well on high-frequency routes so that families could be accommodated on other services. On long-haul routes I might look to more innovative airlines such as Virgin Atlantic, Emirates or Etihad to consider taking this on board.’
He added that many airlines use the Boeing 747 plane, which has two decks and would make the separation of adults and children easier.
The survey saw 1,000 business class travellers questioned about pet hates on flights ahead of the Business Travel and Meetings trade show, which takes place in London next week.
The event’s director David Chapple said passengers paying more for tickets were well within their rights to complain: ‘It’s understandably frustrating for business travellers, who have paid a premium in expectation they can work and sleep in comfort, to have that peace disturbed by children.
Business class cabin
Frank Barrett, The Mail on Sunday’s travel editor said the controversial idea would be unethical: ‘I’m always amused to see children in business class on flights. What sort of business can these children be travelling on? What work does a six-month old baby have to do in New York?’
‘However, much as I hate being kept awake all night by a grizzling child, I think that starting to introduce passenger apartheid might be a dangerous step. Where would it end? Banning fat people, roping off anyone who has smelly breath? We’ll just have to grin and bear the presence of kiddies, I’m afraid.’
There has been a muted response from UK airlines to the survey. A spokesperson for British Airways said:’We do our best to help families travelling have as smooth a journey as possible.
‘We do a lot of research into what our customers want and are always looking into new ways of making their journey as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.’
Virgin Atlantic however said it had ‘no plans’ to introduce areas that specifically cater for adults.
Former Virgin Atlantic director Paul Charles said: ‘It would be a bad decision by an airline to ban children. Once you did, would you start banning other types of traveller? It would be a mistake.’
18 per cent of business class passengers surveyed said they resented paying more for their ticket when economy class passengers could sometimes be upgraded for free. And 15 per cent of those questioned said they would prefer to be further away from the economy class cabin.
• Qantas to fly world’s longest 747 route
• Qatar Airways maintains 5-star status
• Cathay Pacific unveils billion-dollar new business class
• Emirates asks Airbus for long-range A350
• Airlines ditching first-class seats