Gone are the days when flying was a luxury and every second or third person you met admitted that they’d never been on a plane. Nowadays, we do it all the time, even to the point that planes are just another mode of public transportation. They are a big, flying bus with a few extra steps to board.

As with every form of transportation, people have their own pet peeves. One of the most common ones among plane passengers is children. Sometimes they cry. On other occasions, they kick a seat in front of them, or just misbehave because they’re bored. It’s been happening for so long that it would seem now’s the time to put a stop to it. Or is it?

In this article, written by guest post contributor Michal Laszuk, we will explore the concept of child-free flights and examine Americans’ impressions of this rather controversial topic. Thanks to a study conducted by PhotoAiD, we have the exact numbers to work with. Let’s see for ourselves just how much for or against the general public is.

Getting on an airplane

Adult-only flights — who’s in and who’s out?

The study points to a video on TikTok that sparked the conversation on offering flights exclusively for adults. As you can imagine, it blew up big time. With almost 30,000 comments before 2022 ended, the big question was on everyone’s lips, it seems.

The results, much to the disapproval of the opposition to the idea of adult-only air travel, are rather one-sided. Of the 1000+ surveyed Americans, the vast majority approved the idea. Premium passengers were especially unanimous.

As much as 89% of premium passengers declared their support for flights that won’t include crying babies or other young kids that could disrupt their entire flight.

When it comes to regular passengers, the disproportion got significantly smaller. Although ultimately, the idea still received more support than it did objections. 67% of regular passengers decided to stand in favour of child-free flights.

If we look even deeper at more detailed statistics, it becomes clear that air travel without younger passengers is something that appeals to most travellers.

  • 85% of men admitted to liking the idea of an adult-only flight
  • 82% of women felt the same
  • 83% of parents (quite surprisingly?) also approved
  • 87% of non-parents said they’d support the idea

These statistics paint a clear picture, and as we move on, you’ll discover just how far adults are prepared to go to take advantage of the possibility to travel without children. Just them and an occasional flight attendant are quite enough, it seems.

Luxurious adult-only flight with champagne

What’s the price of the luxury of adult-only flights?

The logical next question to ask must be “Well, how much would you be prepared to pay to have a calm flight”? After all, we’re talking about something more than a standard offer. The price of a child-free flight would have to be higher.

The study shows that most people would be ready to pay more for this luxury. Only 13% think that short-haul, child-free flights should be priced identically to the regular ones. What about the rest of the regular passengers?

  • 24% admitted they’d be ready to pay 1-5% more;
  • 20% gave the thumbs-up to a 5-10% higher price;
  • 17% are ready to splash out 10-20% more;
  • 18% would pay up to 30% more for a ticket;
  • 8% would go as far as to pay more than 30% for a child-free flight ticket.

Of course, however, this only relates to short-haul flights that wouldn’t take longer than 3 hours. Still, the message is clear. Americans are more than willing to pay extra for calmer flights. 18% of Americans are ready to pay up to 30% more. Airlines will no doubt welcome such news with wide smiles on their faces. 

There’s money to be made, especially if we look at premium passengers that are even more willing to reach for their wallets. Two-thirds of premium passengers admit to being ready to pay extra and splash out 10-30% more if that means there are no children in their elite economy and business class zones.

Air Canada airplane on the tarmac

What about longer, child-free flights?

When we enter the territory of longer flights that often take more than 6 hours, the results don’t differ much from what was said before.

Most regular passengers (28%) agree that having to pay an additional 10-20% would be a fair deal for an adult-only long-flight ticket. Apart from them, we see a very consistent 15% across the board in terms of how much such a ticket should cost. Again, however, roughly 1 in 10 passengers believe that the prices shouldn’t vary at all.

Premium passengers don’t mind paying more for the possibility of not having to deal with noisy or poorly-behaving children as well. Almost half (47%) would be ready to pay for a ticket that’s 10-30% more expensive than the regular one. Moreover, the same amount, which is 1 in 5 travellers, would pay either 5-10% more or even more than 30%.

Child-free seating zones on flights

When the topic of adult-only flights gets thrown out, it is only natural to look for a compromise and keep everyone happy, both the proponents and the opposition to the idea. If entire child-free flights are a no-go, perhaps specific adult-only zones in planes are an alternative that won’t be such a big deal?

As it turns out, however, that’s an even tougher discussion to handle. Regular travellers are of two minds about this, with only 58% agreeing to the solution. What we’re seeing is a considerable amount of naysayers. Premium passengers, however, are far more decisive and most of them (80%) are perfectly fine with that solution.

Adult-only flights would be a dream

Child-free zone additional fees

Implementing child-free zones to the airlines’ offers would mean introducing what’s essentially another class. The matter of how much should these tickets differ in price is rather complicated.

There are two major opinions among regular passengers. A quarter of them believes the price shouldn’t be different at all, while 28% would see just a small difference of 1-5% as fair.

The largest percent of clients that prefer better deals and fly in business and other premium classes came to the conclusion that 5-10% larger fees would be fair game. It has to be noted, however, that the difference between them and those who’d be ready to pay 20-30% more isn’t big.

What bothers adult airline passengers the most?

The most common air travel pet peeve the majority would mention is crying children. We’ve all been there, and it is far from ideal, true. Sometimes it can’t be helped because they don’t react well to the changing air pressure and other external factors. Just 7% of passengers get this, while 24% are quick to blame the child. As much as 36% puts the blame entirely on parents.

What’s interesting, however, is that according to the study, crying or misbehaving children are actually not the worst thing that can happen during a flight. 60% admitted that a rude or loud adult is a greater threat to a peaceful flight than a problematic child. Considering countless videos on the internet of adults ruining everyone else’s flights, it’s hard to disagree.

What about the environmental cost of adult-only flights?

If we assume that the idea of adult-only flights gets approved and is officially greenlit, we will see even more traffic in the air. What follows, then, is that airlines will need even more fuel to send additional planes, leading to even greater carbon dioxide emissions.

Mother nature will not be amused and, unfortunately, most people don’t care about sustainable tourism or how to be a responsible tourist.

A whopping 89% of American travellers said that they still approve of the idea, even despite greater CO2 emissions. Thus, convenience once again triumphs over ecological solutions. If that’s not a clear sign of how much Americans rate the idea of child-free flights, I don’t know what is.

Adult-only flights – conclusion

What we’re seeing is that the vast majority of American travellers would welcome the idea of exclusively adult flights, without having to deal with very young passengers. If that means the prices and CO2 emissions go up, so be it.

Moreover, adult-only flights are a preferable alternative to what seems at the first glance like a decent compromise, which is child-free zones. Whether any of those ideas get a thumbs-up remains to be seen, but the people have spoken.

This guest post has been contributed by Michal Laszuk, a writer at Passport Photo Online by day, and an avid traveller at night. Almost constantly on the move, he’ll visit even the most unconventional destinations if it means trying new, exotic cuisines.

He was kind enough to share his thoughts with us on adult-only flights and whether or not he thinks we’ll see them in the future. Do you agree? Let us know your thoughts on this topic.

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