I have flown 842 times. In that time, one child has kept me irritated for an entire flight. As he bounced up and down the seats with his oblivious mother staring at her video screen, an exasperated fellow passenger asked if she had brought anything for her child to do. She looked up and shrugged her shoulders, saying “No” and went back to watching her screen. A few babies have disturbed my takeoffs and landings but not enough for me to want children removed from my aeroplane. Most I have met on board have been well behaved or in awe or both. On the other hand, adult passengers that talk loudly on night flights, recline their seats, pack the luggage racks badly, keep the light on on night flights, abuse the flight attendants, dirty the lavatories, or step on my feet when walking across the emergency exits, annoy me more. Besides, for the first 15 flights of my life, I was a child under 12.
So I was very interested in Malaysian Airline’s announcement last Wednesday that children and infants under the age of 12 will be banned from the upper decks of their new Airbus A380 as well as the plane’s First Class.
The announcement overshadowed almost every other detail of the new Airbus services. The first plane due for delivery in June will start flying Kuala Lumpur daily into London in July. The second one will double the London capacity. KL- Sydney will follow from 25 September, 2012 as flights MH123/122 replacing the Boeing 747-400 aircraft currently serving the route. This means four airlines will be flying A380s into Sydney and four into London (Emirates, Qantas, Singapore currently operate the plane at those two airports).
The Malaysian A380 has a brand new livery of blue and metal colours (pictured). No decision has been made as to whether the colours will be rolled out to the whole fleet. I really like the livery. The colour represents a new era as they join One World and fight to keep their five star Skytrax rating which is “under review”. (If Skytrax downgrades them, then that means with the loss of Kingfisher’s status, there will be five carrying the 5 star moniker compared with seven last year).
Malaysian’s Airbus A380 will have 494 seats compared with:
- Korean: 407 (my report here)
- Qantas: 450 (not reviewed)
- Singapore: 409/471 (not reviewed)
- Emirates: 489/517 (Three airlines A380s compared)
- China Southern: 506 (not flown yet)
- Air France: 516/538 (Reviewed January, 2012)
- Lufthansa: 526 (Review posted October last year)
There was talk of having four classes with a seat count of 503. Instead, Malaysian has dropped premium Economy and increased the business cabin on the upper deck. Seven of the seats are reserved for crew giving the plane 487 seats. 420 of these seats are economy, Business and First Class. On the lower deck are 350 Economy seats and the eight kid free First class seats. The child proofed upper deck will have 66 Business and 70 economy seats.
First-class pitch will be 85 inches. The seats will flatten out to a full 87-inches. In flight entertainment screens are 23-inch. Business class: 74-inch pitch and full flat bed seats each measuring 72 inches in length with individual 17-inch IFE screens. Economy-class seats will have a 32 inch pitch and an 18 inch seat width with 10.6-inch individual screens. Every seat on board will have a USB port. AC electrical outlets Ports will be installed at every Business and First seat and shared with every two seats in Economy.
Now for the child ban. Malaysian have instructed travel agents that their booking system will not allow passengers under 12 in First class, or the upper deck. This is hot on the heels of a 2010 US survey identified that nearly 60% of travellers want airlines to create a family-only section on flights. This was a consequence of a confidential settlement between Qantas and a 67-year-old American passenger who sued the airline after a 3-year-old screamed on her flight. Further, most survey respondents said they wished to sit as far away from young children as possible. Those who support banning kids, point out that the chance of a small child or baby being disruptive is far greater than that of any other traveller. Those against point out that children likely to fly Business are usually behaved. plus it means all parents seeking to fly Malaysian will have to fly Economy.
So is this policy Wacky or Wise.? What do you think?