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Airline launches kid-free ‘Quiet Zones

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(CNN) — Beginning this week, under-12s are banned from the first seven rows of economy class on AirAsia X flights to China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Australia and Nepal.

In an official press release, AirAsia X’s CEO Azran Osman-Rani described the new rollout as a “heavenly package for those who want peace of mind.”

Not to mention peace of ear.

Passengers booked on AirAsia X, the long-haul arm of AirAsia, can now opt for the seats for an additional cost of RM 35 (US$11) or RM 110 (US$35.5) — the standard fee charged for picking specific seats in economy class and in the “hot seats” section, which provide more leg room.

The child-free area, called the “Quiet Zone,” has softer lighting and is sectioned off from the rest of the plane by toilets and bulkheads, the theory being you won’t be able to hear the kids who are towards the back of the plane.

Still, anyone who’s been within 100 meters of a screaming child will know that their cries won’t be stifled by a few partition curtains.

Just as cigarette smoke could waft into the non-smoking areas before it was banned, so too will noise, said George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog.com, speaking to NBC news when AirAsia X’s new option was first announced last year.

“If you were just one row away from the smoking section, you still got the smoke,” he said. “And you’ll still hear the screams … if a child has strong lungs.”

Osman-Rani was eager to note that kids aren’t actually being banned from traveling, and that the new offering was about customizing preferences and “fair choice,” pointing out that the flights will be adding three baby bassinets to the other two economy cabin sections.

AirAsia’s competitor, Malaysia Airlines, started flying last year year with child-free first class cabins as well as a child-free upper deck economy section on its A380 service.

AirAsia is Asia’s largest budget carrier, with hubs in Malaysia, Thailand, Japan and Indonesia.

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