Japan Airlines is attempting to ease the bugbear of many travellers, by enabling passengers on their flights to identify where babies will be located. The new feature enables customers of the airline to view a virtual seating plan of aircraft, with the reservations for any young children clearly identified by the software.
Passengers who are concerned about any potential noise pollution from the youngsters can then locate themselves elsewhere in the cabin. The software uses the face of a baby in order to identify any passengers of tender age, while also showing all available seats, making it possible to identify a suitable place.
The innovation has already received praise on social media, with Japan Airlines customer Rahat Ahmed tweeting a picture of his reservation online. Ahmed praised the idea, and explained that choosing a quieter seat can make a big difference for those hoping to concentrate on work on long-haul flights.
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.
— Rahat Ahmed (@dequinix) September 24, 2019
However, Ahmed has since expanded on his original tweet, seeking to clarify the fact that there can also be many other disturbances on flights as well as babies. Nonetheless, many Twitter commenters have been in agreement with Ahmed, despite some sympathising with those travelling with young children.
Live booking issue
One potential problem with this system, though, is that it is dependent on a live booking system. This means that when users book their tickets, they can only see the aircraft’s seating plan as it appears at that particular time. There is nothing really stopping young children from then being booked into nearby seats after a reservation has been made.
Of course, it’s possible to delay a reservation to the last possible moment, reducing this possibility, but this innovation should be seen as a way of reducing the likelihood that young children can be avoided, but not eradicate it completely. And any positive PR is good news for Japan Airlines after the carrier was fined $300,000 earlier this month for failing to let delayed passengers ‘deplane’ from two separate flights.
But it should also be noted that the information on young children will only be available to Japan Airlines customers who book through the company’s website. The company has confirmed that travellers who book as part of a tour or via alternative websites will not show us as having a baby, which does obviously reduce the usefulness of this feature.
However, the seat planning website SeatGuru does provide information regarding where children are most likely to sit on flights, and it is known that this is at the bulkhead of the aircraft. So travellers wanting some peace and quiet on their trips can at least plan accordingly, even though they could still easily encounter other disturbances.
Back in March, a Saudi flight was forced to make a U-turn after a passenger left their baby at a boarding gate. To help ensure that you don’t make a similar faux pas, Simple Flying has put together this guide on flying with babies.
Is the Japan Airlines innovation genuinely useful, or just a gimmick? And is it fair enough to want to avoid young children, or should we be more tolerant? Let us know in the comments!