Adults who cringe at the thought of sitting next to a crying infant during a long flight might want to consider booking with Japan Airlines during their next trip to or out of Tokyo.
As CNN reports, the airline has a baby seat map. When passengers select a seat for their little one through their website, their child’s seat will have a child icon placed on top of it, which will also be visible to other customers looking for a place to sit.
The website reads, “Passengers traveling with children between 8-days- and 2-years-old who select their seats on the JAL website will have a child icon displayed on their seats on the seat selection screen.”
The concept makes it possible for adults to avoid sitting next to a baby if they choose to—but only in some cases.
According to CNN, the child icons will only be shown on the seat selection page when booking on the JAL website. And if the airline changes aircrafts, then the baby icons won’t display. In the Washington Post‘s coverage of the story, other instances the baby map won’t be available is if a passenger is booking seats as part of a tour or using award tickets, aka, tickets obtained by passengers from racking up points through airline loyalty programs.
CNN reports that JAL already has some family-friendly features, providing strollers for rent at the airport and diaper-changing facilities on the aircraft, and allowing passengers traveling with infants priority boarding. They also accept baby strollers as checked baggage without charge.
According to WaPo, it’s unclear when the baby seat map feature was rolled out, but already, some people are singing the airline’s praises, including Twitter user Rahat Ahmed. “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,” he wrote.
Not everyone who saw his tweet, however, felt that a baby seat map is necessary. “They are babies as we all once were. We need to learn tolerance, or will soon start needing a map of seat locations for mouth breathers, droolers, farters, drunks and perhaps a lot more things in life. What ever happened to life’s surprises 😉?” wrote one user.
As WaPo reports, several airlines in Asia have child-free zones. These airlines, listed on travel agency Alternative Airlines‘ website, include Malaysia-based AirAsiaX, which has a quiet zone that prohibits kids under 10-years-old, and Singapore-based Scoot, which has a silent zone that prohibits kids under age 12 inside.
While we can see the benefit of a baby seat map—there won’t be any surprises for passengers sitting next to babies, and they can manage their expectations—it’s important to note that even with such a thing in place, it might make very little difference on a passenger’s travel experience if an infant on a flight is crying particularly loud. In that case, might we suggest just bringing noise-canceling headphones as lots of people do nowadays anyway?