I would gladly trade my kingdom for kid-free zones in restaurants, airplanes, trains and theaters. Nothing ruins my experience faster than a screaming baby, three-year-old kids running sprints up and down an aisle or, my personal bete noir, the airplane cutie who sits behind me and practices her punting technique on my lower back.
Mercifully, there actually ARE kid-free zones in a few enlightened venues. McDain's Restaurant in Monroeville, PA, banned children six and under in 2011 because “…parents weren't controlling (them).” And, a casual restaurant in Atlanta wrote a disclaimer on its menu urging parents to take their crying babies outside.
Sogno di Vino, an Italian restaurant in Poulsbo, WA., provides a $4 discount to any family with well-behaved kids. Why? Because, says owner Rob Scott, “Unruly kids can ruin the dining experience for others.” And, he added, “Sogno di Vino means 'to dream of wine', it doesn't mean Chuck E. Cheese.” I love this guy.
Meanwhile, 35,000 feet above terra firma, Malaysian Airlines has become the first major air carrier to provide kid-free zones. That's pure brilliance on the airline's part, and should be copied by ANY train, plane or bus that cares one iota about customer experience.
Make no mistake that a restaurant's or airline's image and reputation is intrinsically linked to an end user's actual experience. So, don't promise me I'll be flying the friendly skies when, in reality, the mom sitting next to me will be using her tray to change her baby's soiled diapers (true story).
I pine for the day when, as I await to be seated at a chic Manhattan restaurant, the maitre'd asks me, “Your usual table in our child-free area, Monsieur Cody?”
Or, and be still my heart, as I wait to board an already delayed United flight, I hear the gate attendant announce, “Thanks for your patience, folks. Maintenance says we're good to go. So, we're going to provide a courtesy pre-board to all of you with seats in our kids-free zone. You've suffered enough already.”