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.
Good stuff, Japan Airlines. So it's kind of like Minesweeper but with babies pic.twitter.com/KDcT6w0KIw
— Sato (@Satonegi) September 27, 2019
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.
Oh come on, babies aren’t that bad. They can’t help themselves. Imagine how stressful it must be for the babies, barely able to communicate their needs; and the tired parents. Stop being dicks to parents https://t.co/fWJz4AEqNg
— STEMLORD & Mysterious Internet Personality (@upulie) September 27, 2019
Sorry Japan Airlines (@JAL_Official_jp), *not* cool! What about warnings against loud talking adults, obese people, those with body odor or hogging armrest? Babies are human too, not like a disease to be avoided. Will think twice flying your airline!https://t.co/cpVyHWnNiX
— Arsen Ostrovsky (@Ostrov_A) September 27, 2019
Do people who hate babies and toddlers on planes think that they were never babies or toddlers? Who never cried or screamed? I’d like a tool that locates drunks, racists, perverts and those with severe halitosis. https://t.co/zqH5coF1ne
— Monisha Rajesh (@monisha_rajesh) September 27, 2019
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.
The Japan Airlines seat-selection map now shows travelers where babies will be seated on upcoming flights. Do you think this is a good thing? ✈️🍼https://t.co/tF5Anx12UM
— The Points Guy (@thepointsguy) September 25, 2019
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 to have been able to say, “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, and 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. It’s a rotten industry, not one bit people-friendly, and focused on the bottom dollar, after all. 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 while he makes a face of disgust at my spawn. I wish they had icons to avoid that guy, but until then, it’s a crapshoot, I guess.
Japan Airlines has a new feature when you book your seat that shows where babies are sitting. That's great, but why doesn't it also show where the people are sitting who plan to take off their shoes and socks?
— the FITZ (@FollowFITZ) September 30, 2019
This is fantastic, because not only will I book a seat right next to your baby, I will gladly hold your baby for you while you eat or use the lavatory. Thanks for making it easier to help Japan Airlines! https://t.co/qW7nsJs04p
— Lindsey Nikola (@LindseyNikola) September 27, 2019
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 the kids who deserve better.