CNN reported that in early June 2013, AirAsia X flights to China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Australia and Nepal would now ban children under the age of 12 from the first seven rows of economy class flights. The CEO of AirAsia X, Azran Osman-Rani, described the new policy as “a heavenly package for those who want peace of mind.”
By “mind,” frequent travelers can only believe the CEO means “ears.” Most people love kids, but all of us – parents included – understand why some travelers may not want to sit next to them on international flights. Kids can get, well, rambunctious and loud. Just by being kids. The relative silence, of course, is the first benefit AirAsia X is touting.
Touting the benefits
In addition to the “Quiet Zone,” the child-free area will also come with softer lighting and is sectioned off from other areas of the plane by bulkheads and restroom facilities. David Milberg, an entrepreneur “..says these very specific improvements obviously come directly from customer comments on the quality of service. Clearly the airline is making a concerted effort to address customer value and product quality.”
Air Asia’s public relations releases admit that the separated area will be far from silent. But, their consumer PR insists that the areas will be “quieter.” Milberg says that most people understand certain realities. They know that air travel will not be completely free of noisy people – young or old – but this step shows they are trying to meet the needs of their customers. Targeted effort such as this can create exceptional public relations points.
Explaining the value
One of the direct benefits of this change for the company – other than happy frequent and business flyers – is the extra money the company can now charge for the seats. The premium kid-free zone upgrade runs between $11 and $35 USD depending on where you want to sit. Some of the seats also provide more legroom. All of this extra value is spelled out in the consumer PR being sent out to international new agencies. By focusing on explaining the added value directly, consumers can make an easy decision what the price of relative silence is worth to them. If the change is successful overseas, customers can expect at least one U.S. airline to give it a shot in the near future.