For travelers, there are all sorts of indignities and perceived punishments to be endured, from airport delays to outright strandings. But for some, one of the biggest strokes of travel unluckiness comes in the form of being seated next to a crying infant or tantrum-throwing toddler (at least one that’s not your own, that is) some 35,000 feet in the sky, with no immediate exit strategy in sight. Happily, one savvy airline has found a way to keep such misfortune at bay by launching a seat map that shows just where those tiny flyers will be seated.
When booking a flight on Japan Airlines’ (JAL) website, the seat selection map depicts, with a “child icon,” where kids under the age of two are seated—so you can tactfully choose not to book a seat near them, if that brings you peace of mind.
“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,” reads the airline’s website. “This lets other passengers know a child may be sitting there.”
However, the tool isn’t foolproof. The child icons may not populate if the seats are booked via a method other than directly through JAL’s website—for instance, from a third-party booking site, as part of a tour group, or via award ticket redemption. It also may not prove accurate if there is a last-minute change of aircraft.
Of course, in our experience, the worst-behaved passengers on the plane are rarely ever babies—and to date, we haven’t see the seat location maps roll out for any other gripe-worthy, “problem” passengers: the drunks, loudmouths, snorers, and gas passers among them.
As for the baby seat mapping, it remains to be seen if other worldwide airlines will follow suit: In the meantime, be sure to safeguard your sanity by toting along those noise-canceling headphones in your carry-on.