Babies are cute and cuddly and downright adorable. When it's your baby, there's nothing better than sharing that bonding time... and sharing baby pictures with anyone who wants (or is willing) to see them. But on a plane, we see people's attitudes about babies change -- usually for the worse. Not a lot of travelers want to sit near a crying baby. And while I haven't figured out how this happens, babies can cry at an exponentially louder volume on flights. There's really nothing to do, though, except grin and bear it. Because it's a baby, and that's what babies do.
But Japan Airlines has decided to do a little something about it. They've added baby icons to their seat maps, so that other passengers can identify when someone is traveling with their baby. That allows anyone who might potentially be annoyed by babies being babies... to stay clear and select a seat further away. I guess the inverse is true; if you want to be distracted by someone else's cute little baby for the 12-hour flight across the Pacific Ocean, you could elect to sit closer to the baby. It's your call.
The airline says the child icons on the seat map will identify a baby or toddler from 8 days up to 2 years old. Beyond that, a child is not eligible to sit in a parent's lap and must have their own seat. The system isn't 100% accurate, and if you book early, the chances are good that someone with a baby picks a seat close to you. So you have to keep checking your seat selection to ensure the best results.
I have mixed emotions about this. It makes a certain amount of sense, and I'm sure that frequent fliers will rejoice. As uncomfortable as I am with this, even I am quietly celebrating a little bit inside. But it also seems like we're putting up more barriers to communication and understanding each other.
I also have questions. If we're able to identify babies on a flight and let people select their seats accordingly, why can't we get others who might annoy us onto the seat selection map? I'm looking at you, armrest hog! Or the guy who drinks way too much before a flight and wants to talk my ear off until he passes out on my shoulder. (Yes, that actually happened).
Maybe all airline passengers fill out a short questionnaire to get more info about their in-flight habits. Then we can separate the quiet types from those who like to talk their way through a flight. We can easily pick out the people with dogs or cats or emotional support animals. Dog lover? Sit close to that person. Allergic to cats? Yeah, you'll sit over there. And if someone passes time with inflight tonail clipping? Um, we'll let them have the whole section.
Here's a better idea. Instead of picking and choosing our seats based on our seatmates, why not just get a nice pair of noise cancelling headphones?
[Photo Credit: Getty Images | Seat Map Credit: Japan Air Lines]