People Are Angry About Airline Seat Map That Shows Where Babies Are

Japan Airlines has introduced a new option for its seat selection map — and the tea is spilling, friends. If you haven’t already heard, Japan Airlines travelers can now see online where babies between eight days and two years of age will be seated on flights — so that those who seek to avoid sitting near squalling infants can at least buy a bit of distance from the tiny, wretched humans.

It’s not foolproof: The tool only works for online bookings through the Japan Airlines website. Also, baby icons won’t display if there are last-minute changes in aircraft.

Still, it’s an interesting premise.

Predictably, many people are up in arms about Japan Airlines’ baby profiling. Just hop on Twitter for ten minutes and you’ll see the debate raging.

But I’ve got to tell you, as a mom whose babies both shrieked their heads off on many an airplane ride: I’m actually all for this. And I’m not the only one, either, according to this casual poll,

Look, the stress of traveling with a baby is bad enough. The stress of traveling with a baby with chronic ear troubles that flare on planes is downright terrible. Being seated smack in the middle of furious businessmen (it’s almost always men who are furious at babies, in my experience) with a screaming baby who’s in pain is quite literally hell. I’d have loved to have been able to stare down an angry guy in a suit and said, “You know, you could have chosen another seat, dude.”

Instead, I found myself groveling and apologizing every time for my poor kid who couldn’t help herself, then ignoring hateful glares for the duration of the flight while trying to soothe my infant. On one flight, I burst into tears along with my baby, because the people around me were so vicious and outspoken about their disgust for my situation. The baby-shaming on flights is real. And sadly, I don’t see humans improving any time soon.

And honestly? My girls are teens now, but I would have flown on a families-only airline if I could have. Why not take advantage of at least a baby-friendly section, with others in the same unenviable situation? Misery loves company — and a shared wan smile of solidarity goes a long, long way on a red-eye from LAX to LGA.

Is it a way for airlines to charge yet another premium? Oh, probably. I’m not naive. It’s a rotten industry, not one bit people-friendly, and focused on the bottom dollar. The airlines are constantly scheming for new ways to charge new fees, and a baby-distant seat may just be another one of those ways. Still, that’s a surcharge I’d have gladly paid. And actually, even though my girls are long past those days, I might even pay it now, just to sit near a mom who might need help like I so sorely needed it then — and to (hopefully) avoid a manspreading, mansplaining white dude in a suit, downing his third Jack-and-Coke. I wish they had icons for that guy, but until then, it’s a crapshoot, I guess.

Are there worst seatmates than babies? HELL YES. But until there’s a way to profile them and steer clear? I’m cool with letting them steer clear of me and my baby.


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