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The “Happy Baby” Seating Map Lets You Avoid Kids on Planes

The “Happy Baby” Seating Map Lets You Avoid Kids on Planes
Jeff Edwards

Japan Airlines’ “happy baby” symbol has gone viral. If you’re new to JAL, the “happy baby” symbol is intended to let other flyers know ahead of time if their preferred seat might be near a small child and will ideally allow passengers unhappy with the arrangement to opt for a different selection.

The headlines announcing that Japan Airlines (JAL) has added a feature to its seat selection option allowing flyers to see where infants are located in the seating chart, might make it sound like the Japanese flag carrier is anti-child, but the feature is actually being billed as a consideration for parents traveling with small children. The general idea is that seatmates who know what to expect prior to boarding will be, if not more accommodating, certainly less obviously irritated by the seating arrangement.

“Every traveler has their pet peeves, but crying babies are almost guaranteed to grate,” CNN’s Jack Guy wrote this week. “Now Japan Airlines has revealed a new tool that lets you dodge infants when you book your seat.”

The airline actually describes the online tool in slightly different terms. The feature is sold more as a way of allowing fewer patient seatmates to self-identify.

“Passengers traveling with children between 8 days and 2 years old who select their seats on the JAL website will have a child icon displayed on their seats on the seat selection screen,” the carrier explains on its website. “This lets other passengers know a child may be sitting there.”

In fact, JAL is consistently ranked among the best carriers in the world when it comes to flying with children. The airline offers special services on the ground as well as priority boarding, low-allergen kids meals, the complimentary use of child safety seats onboard, specialized amenity kits for junior flyers and even free diapers upon request.

The airline says the “happy baby” icon might not always be accurate in cases when travel is booked as part of a tour or using award tickets, the seats are not selected through the JAL website or if there is a change in aircraft. There is one other situation in which the infant might relocate. Passengers traveling with an infant are given first priority for seats equipped to accommodate a bassinet, even if another childless passenger has already reserved those seats.

For more FlyerTalk on Japanese Airlines, head here.

View Comments (9)

9 Comments

  1. Dublin_rfk

    September 27, 2019 at 3:55 am

    Sounds like a great program lets give it some time so that American carriers can find a way to poorly copy it.

  2. leighjohnwi

    September 27, 2019 at 10:44 am

    While I think in practice, it would be of benefit to some, my initial response was more of a privacy issue. I wonder if this would violate privacy regulations within the US. As a father of young children I might not like the idea of passengers being aware that my wife is traveling with our young child, and actively seeking seats to sit in close proximity to them. Not going into the details, but lots of odd folks out there…and air travel doesn’t often bring out the best of folks with psychological conditions.

  3. Jackie_414

    September 27, 2019 at 6:05 pm

    Taking a baby, at least under one year old, on an airplane flight is child abuse. If anyone inflicted the kind of pain that a baby endures during altitude changes due to unequal pressure in the baby’s ear on that baby, they would be arrested. The airline and the parents are abusing the child and it has to come to a stop.

  4. Annalisa12

    Annalisa12

    September 27, 2019 at 9:24 pm

    Child abuse Jackie? My baby grandson hasn’t made a sound on his flights when under 1 and now he’s 18 months he still hasn’t cried on a flight and loves taking off and has a huge grin as we get up speed.

  5. mark2

    September 27, 2019 at 10:55 pm

    Is an aircraft cabin big enough for it to make a difference how far you are from a crying baby?

  6. mhrb

    September 29, 2019 at 3:38 pm

    Thank christ why did this take so long?! If I’ve paid for a ticket I want to be seated amongst people who are capable of behaving in a public space.

  7. fairhsa

    September 29, 2019 at 11:08 pm

    As usual the comments are more interesting than the article. Luckily for those worried about privacy the name of the kid is not displayed, just a logo showing a kid. So I can’t see how it violates privacy! And while I totally wish someone would bad kids from planes, I can’t see the child abuse angle working any time soon…. sometimes babies do emigrate with their parents and I don’t think sea voyages are that popular these days!

  8. txpenny

    September 30, 2019 at 7:38 am

    USA should copy and add an icon for emotional support animals.

    Well done, JAL.

  9. mvoight

    October 3, 2019 at 11:35 am

    fairsha- I think the issue is it might cause pedophiles to sit closer to the child

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