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Malaysia Airlines launches kid-free economy zone

By CNNGo staff
updated 12:17 PM EDT, Thu April 12, 2012
Malaysia Airlines is at the forefront in offering child-free areas on flights.
Malaysia Airlines is at the forefront in offering child-free areas on flights.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Malaysia Airlines designates a child-friendly lower-level zone
  • Upper level in economy class on A380 route will be child-free
  • Last year, the airline banned infants from first class on its 747-400 routes

(CNN) -- If you want to stir up a fiery debate -- or maybe even a fist fight -- start talking about air travel and children. Inevitably, someone will declare that airlines should offer "kid-free flights."

While that has yet to happen, Malaysia Airlines might have come up with the next best thing. A kid-free economy upper deck aboard its first A380 service, nonstop between Kuala Lumpur and London, which takes off July 1.

Families traveling with under-12s --- including babes-in-arms -- will be automatically allocated seats in the main all-economy lower deck, says a Malaysia Airlines spokesperson.

But before we all jump to brand the decision makers at the flag carrier as a bunch of child-hating monsters, the airline is quick to point out that the 350 economy seats on the main deck of its new A380s will be enhanced and designated as a family and child-friendly inflight zone.

And if there's overwhelming demand for seats in economy class from families with children and infants, resulting in full load in the main deck, "we will still accommodate such demand in the 70-seat upper deck economy class zone of our A380."

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This isn't the first time Malaysia Airlines has instituted a controversial policy relating to kids in the sky. Last year, the airline decided to ban infants from first class on its 747-400 routes. The decision won cheers from some -- and words you'd never say in front of your kids from others.

Given their penchant for boldly going where no airline has dared before, here's hoping Malaysia Airlines' next move will be to designate a special zone for drunks and passengers who forgot to take a shower before their flight.

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Sky nannies and 'Kargo Kids'

While Malaysia Airlines is the first to ban or segregate the little ones on flights, other airlines do recognize that traveling with young kids on long-haul flights isn't easy.

Several airlines, such as Gulf Air and Emirates, offer passengers free in-flight nanny services that range from helping with meals to entertaining the kids while mom watches a movie.

In the United States, a new website hooks up fliers with nannies looking to make a few extra bucks. Called Nanny in the Clouds, passengers can sign up for free and search for potential babysitters scheduled to take the same flight.

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Canadian low-cost airline WestJet, meanwhile, doesn't offer nanny services but it did attract a lot of attention earlier this month with a hilarious April Fool's Day joke.

On April 1, the airline launched a video advertising a new service dubbed "Kargo Kids" in which parents check their kids in with their luggage. The parents enjoy the flight, the kids are sent down to their own special club in the cargo hold.

Not a bad idea, really.

Should other airlines follow Malaysia Airlines' lead and designate inflight kid-free zones? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

© 2011 Cable News Network Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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