Investor Alert

Sept. 28, 2019, 11:51 a.m. EDT

This airline will warn you if you’ll be sitting next to a baby on your flight

While some travelers seek out ways to avoid being seated next to kids, parents are complaining that airlines are splitting families up

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By Jacob Passy

Getty Images/iStockphoto
No one wants to sit next to a crying baby on a plane — and one airline is making it easier to avoid that fate.

Crying babies are the bane of many air travelers’ existence. And one airline is making it easier to put some distance between you and a tike throwing a tantrum.

Japan Airlines /zigman2/quotes/200824855/composite JAPSY -1.24%   has a feature in its booking process that indicates where young children are seated on its flights. When passengers traveling with a child who is less than two years old select their seats, a child icon will appear on those seats when others go select their seats.

It is not clear when Japan Airlines /zigman2/quotes/202202214/delayed JP:9201 -0.26%  first rolled out this feature, but it was first widely noticed after Rahat Ahmed, a venture capitalist, tweeted about it. Japan Airlines did not immediately return a request for comment.

There are some caveats to the child-icon feature that Japan Airlines noted on its website. Child icons won’t appear if the person traveling with children selected their seats as part of a tour booking or on another website rather than directly through Japan Airlines. Child icons also don’t appear for passengers who bought their tickets with frequent flier miles.

Read more: Why Thomas Cook’s sudden collapse would be financially catastrophic for customers if it happened in the U.S.

And if the aircraft changes after booking, the placement of the child icons may not be accurate, Japan Airlines warned.

Japan Airlines isn’t the first carrier to attempt to make trips more comfortable for other travelers when babies are on board. In 2016, Indian airline IndiGo rolled out “Quiet Zones,” where children under 12 were not allowed to sit. Other airlines have introduced similar child-free rows of seating for an extra fee.

Business travelers without kids aren’t the only ones feeling stressed out by airline policies when it comes to seating children. An investigation by Consumer Reports found that there were more than 100 complaints made to the U.S. Department of Transportation from families who found it difficult to ensure that they could all sit together on flights. Some families also complained about being forced to pay extra in order to guarantee that parents were seated with their children.

And although the DOT was ordered by Congress to review airline family seating policies, Consumer Reports found that the agency had not taken steps to institute more family-friendly policies among airlines.

The U.S. Global Jets /zigman2/quotes/207744796/composite JETS +1.56%  , which tracks airline operators worldwide, has dropped in value roughly 1% over the last three months, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA +1.27%   and S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +1.73% are up 1.4% and 1.8% respectively over that same time.

US : U.S.: OTC
$ 8.73
-0.11 -1.24%
Volume: 43,757
Aug. 12, 2022 3:46p
P/E Ratio
Dividend Yield
Market Cap
$7.65 billion
Rev. per Employee
JP : Japan: Tokyo
¥ 2,342.00
-6.00 -0.26%
Volume: 3.35M
Aug. 12, 2022 3:00p
P/E Ratio
Dividend Yield
Market Cap
¥1023.47 billion
Rev. per Employee
US : U.S.: NYSE Arca
$ 18.90
+0.29 +1.56%
Volume: 4.74M
Aug. 12, 2022 4:00p
US : Dow Jones Global
+424.38 +1.27%
Volume: 320.97M
Aug. 12, 2022 6:27p
+72.88 +1.73%
Volume: 2.22B
Aug. 12, 2022 6:27p

Jacob Passy is a personal-finance reporter for MarketWatch and is based in New York.

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