We Could Soon See the End of Crying Babies on Planes, Thanks to Science

Star Alliance member ANA thinks they would generate more business from families if they could help reduce inflight crying. Cynics might suggest they’d be especially likely to win the business of non-families if they could do that.

Japanese politeness may keep some parents from flying with young children though, families are said to avoid travel by air because of both the difficulties imposed on young children and wanting to avoid the awkwardness of their babies crying and imposing a tax on other passengers. Indeed only 1.6% of ANA passengers are children under 3.

Copyright: romrodinka / 123RF Stock Photo

So the airline has teamed up with NTT Corporation, Toray Industries, and Combi Corp in scientific research on the causes of babies crying on planes.

On Sunday a charter flight flew from Tokyo (unclear whether Narita or Haneda) or Miyazaki airport and back. Thirty four families linked to these companies were on board with their small children who were connected to “special equipment” on their chests that could “detect the tell-tale signs babies show before crying.” Their pulse and both physical and mental condition was checked and relayed to their parents’ smart phones.

Basically the signals told the parents what their babies needed, although I’m sure many parents believe they know the signals their small children give out better than sensors and an app.

Phones would instruct the parents to give their babies “liquid through straws from Combi cups to relieve ear pressure” among other signals.

I think there are many far worse things than babies on a plane: sick people who fly anyway and infect passengers around them, people who wear strong perfume you can’t escape or eat Ben’s Chili Bowl at National airport and then fly, and those who clip their toenails during meal service. I’d love an app for that.

On the other hand solving ear pressure that babies face during ascent and landing would go a long way towards addressing much of the crying baby problem (not to mention solving a big problem for the babies themselves!) although it’s not a silver bullet. The parents who sent their toddler running through the aisle screaming in Cathay Pacific first class while I tried to go to sleep are still a problem — but not that’s a parent issue, not a child issue, and it’s far better than most any flight on Ryanair.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. This whole thing is very Japanese. They are constantly trying to figure out how to solve any problem they can find. Sadly babies cry so you won’t be able to prevent that 100% but dealing with things like air pressure changes will certainly help so they at least aren’t in pain.

  2. “The devices, attached to the chests of the test children, detected warning signs — such as fussing ”

    What a device – connected to the chest to tell them that the child is fussing!

    So wonderfully Japan though. Such an innately courteous culture.

  3. I don’t know, on Emirates flights it just seems babies are bored. Only a little bit of take off and landing with 12 hours of flight in between, and multiple babies crying the entire time. But as soon as we land and there is action, they immediately settle down.

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