No kidding! This airline's seat map shows passengers where to avoid sitting next to babies - ignoring parents' privacy

2019-09-27 13:00
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Travelling with babies is never here, use these ti

Fed up with finding yourself next to a screaming child on a long-haul flight? On some Japanese airlines a seat map will warn you where potentially bawling babies are sitting.

The facility, offered as part of Japan Airlines' "Smile Support" travel service for those with infants, is not new, but lit up the internet after a Twitter user praised it.

"Thank you, @JAL_Official_jp for warnings me about where babies plan to scream and yell during a 13 hour trip. This really ought to be mandatory across the board," venture capitalist Rahat Ahmed tweeted.

A somewhat bemused JAL spokesperson confirmed the feature, pointing out it was not a novel offering.

At least one other Japanese airline does the same: All Nippon Airways (ANA), where a spokesperson confirmed its seat maps have shown where children are sitting "for a while."

JAL's maps indicate where infants under two are sitting, with a child icon to let "other passengers know."

Privacy concerns

The revelation caused an internet firestorm, with supporters and naysayers battling it out - and the map itself raises all sort of privacy concerns for parents and their children. raises the concern that somebody can book a flight and know exactly where a baby will be.

Imagine if you had to check a box if you were planning to breastfeed, or some creepy person automatically made the connection between babies and this very natural need.  

Admittedly if you buy a ticket for a commercial airline, it brings with it countless un-assumed risks, like sitting next to somebody who already has the flu or overly chatty passengers wanting to share their life story with you. But having to be identified in this manner does have a rather unsettling anti-family feel to it. 

"Answered prayers", airline specialist site The Points Guy titled a post on the subject.

"Nice. But how long before we get upcharged for seats away from said babies?" one user asked.

Another called the map an unnecessary offering.

"Japan Airlines seat map helps avoid screaming babies. Why not just have noise cancelling headphones?!"

And some pointed out that babies aren't the only troublesome travellers.

"Can we use the same software to avoid people who eat noisily instead?" one Twitter user asked.

"Will airlines also have maps for obnoxious passengers that drink too much, remove their shoes, hog the armrest or recline in my lap?" added another.

Ahmed reported Friday that he had arrived in New York after his JAL flight.

"Ironically chose to sat next to several babies on my two flights: Some great, some loud. It happens. Some adults were worse," he tweeted.

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