Although quite common these days amongst legacy carriers with children, normally below the age of 12 years old, being banned from first-class cabins, Malaysia Airlines is the first to introduce a children free zone on an entire airline deck. Malaysia Airlines is to ban children from the top deck of its new Airbus A380 that will be used on its premier London (Heathrow) to Kuala Lumpur route from July 1 2012. This policy is going to be then rolled out on its Sydney – Kuala Lumpur flights from September 2012.
Malaysia Airlines will configure its upper A380 deck in a business and economy class layout. The upper deck business class will contain 66 flat-bed seats and the final number of economy seats yet to be confirmed (although likely to be around 70).
The difference for Malaysia Airlines is that as children are already banned from their First product, this means that all under-12s will have to fly in the lower deck economy section. This is certainly going to cause some problems for family’s who are frequent flyers and use to the comfort of the premium classes. In particular with this carrier as they do not provide a premium economy product and so provide nothing in between.
Malaysia Airlines said the decision followed numerous complaints from passengers about noisy children. Its CEO Tengku Azmil has been reported as stating the airline is merely responding to what its customer want and in particular is wanting to differientiate itself from the strong completion from the far east into the world business hub.
The news was first published in the Australian Business Traveller where the initial issues started to arise where people attempting to make early bookings on the London service were unable to in the premium cabins with family members under 12 years old.
However the Malaysia Airlines’ move is going to be very welcome news to many a traveller on these long-haul routes. Travelling is not any process at the best of times and most travellers have had to put up with the screaming child, the kicks on the back of the chair or other disruption. To have the choice of paying extra to be free from this, at least from the children, will be money well spent for some. Perhaps Malaysia Airlines will find those parents, travelling without the little ones, will welcome the break from it all too.
In particular for their premium business class passengers, who need to work or relax for their busy schedules, will now not have the added distractions from the often experienced problems in travelling near small children. And for an airline to take this sort of step, it must have received a significant level of feedback from customers to make the change.
But time will tell and in particular to see how other carriers react to this step on a route that has stiff competition across the region. If similar moves are made by the region’s other legacy carriers we will know that Malaysia Airlines made not only a brave, but a right move to separate it from its competition.