A Nursing and Make-up Section Introduced on a Plane – Seriously!

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A couple of weeks ago I did a post on yet another airline adding a “child free” seating option and a post on some controversy over nursing on a plane.  In fact, after 100+ comments on the nursing post, I eventually had to close the comments section due to ongoing name calling between those on either side of the nursing debate, so clearly it is a very touchy issue.  It seems that JAL (Japan Airlines) has their ear to the ground on these issues as well, and has introduced a section on the plane dedicated to nursing moms – and women who want to fix their make-up?!  Does that combo seem a little strange to anyone else – I mean, I guess they are both things that females do, but still seems like an interesting match. 

There is a whole press release available that outlines some of the things that JAL is doing to enhance the flying experience on some flights to Honolulu, and the nursing/make-up section is just one of those things.  I’ll come back to that in a second, but here are some of the other announcements.

  • New in-flight meals will be introduced on Honolulu routes from September, 2013.
  • In order to ensure passengers have adequate time for rest, the airline will change the service time of in-flight meal from after take-off to before landing for the flight departing from Tokyo (Haneda) at 23:40 from September 1, 2013.
  • More picture books and toys for children on JL 786 from Tokyo to Honolulu and JL 785 from Honolulu to Tokyo beginning on October 1, 2013, as these are “the most suitable flights for pre-school children”.
  • New ukulele background music during boarding for flights to Honolulu.

JAL food Mommy Points

and last but not least…

  • The four seats in the rear of economy will be set up for ladies’ make-up from October 1, 2013…this place is also available for nursing, too.  The service will not be available when the seat belt sign is on. 

Is a nursing section a good thing?

Last night Seth, the Wandering Aramean, tweeted me the link to the JAL press release and asked what I thought.  I said that I needed some time to think about it, but that it was probably a win as long as it did not restrict a mom’s ability to also nurse in her own seat.  It is likely often far easier to nurse where you are already seated next to your things, your other children, spouse, etc. than to get up and go to another part of the plane.  Also, many young babies fall asleep nursing, so to have to then get up and potential wake the sleeping kiddo just to get back to your seat would not be ideal for anyone on board.

From the wording of the press release, it reads as if the main purpose of these dedicated seats is for ladies to do their make-up…and that being able to nurse there is more of an after-thought or bonus use.  Though I am even more confused about the economics of dedicating seats for a make-up sectioncan we get some hair washing/blow-drying stations set up too, please?  Seriously though, any time an airline has the needs of young families in mind, I think it is a good thing.  Clearly JAL does take families into consideration by expanding the selection of toys and books for kids on the flights that they think depart at the time of day that is best for young children.

I’m sure that the Honolulu routes are ones that see a large number of families, so I suppose it makes sense that they are focusing some family oriented amenities on these flights.  I think I would personally generally prefer to nurse in my own seat, but having the option of somewhere else go isn’t a bad thing, as long as it doesn’t result in moms having to go to the back of the plane to feed their babies.  As far as a make-up section goes, well clearly I’m not fashionable enough to understand the need for that.

With the recent trend of “no children allowed” seating sections on a plane, I think this is a refreshing change.  I would love to hear from someone who uses this nursing/make-up section once it is operational on October 1st.

Until then, what are your thoughts?  Cool?  Weird?  A little of both?

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  1. I find this odd at best. Don’t women do their makeup in the bathroom normally? And how often would anyone need to do their makeup on a plane, anyway?

    As for the special nursing section, I think it’s potentially problematic as it makes something that is totally normal and inoffensive (or should be!) into something that is akin to the smoking sections of years gone by when the world accommodated that particular perversion. If JAL feels any need, it should make sure that a policy explicitly permitting nursing in any seat is well publicized.

    IMHO. 🙂

  2. Don’t most babies nurse during take off and landing? So I presume that nursing at your seat would also be permitted as the section isn’t available when the seatbelt sign is on.

  3. As a former nursing mother and the mother of a current nursing mother, I find it very offensive to be put in the back of the plane to nurse your child. Perhaps they can save those seats for those that are offended in being seated next to a nursing mother.

  4. Wait… Are they saying they won’t sell those 4 seats? They need to remain blocked for ladies who’d like to do their makeup or nurse in that area?

    Having a female oriented area isn’t that odd for the Japanese market. There are women only hotel floor(s) at many business hotels which usually include a humidifier, nicer hair dryer, and a customized set of toiletries including face care products. Some are a higher floor with a nicer view, too. They usually allow boys in elementary school in with their mothers. The elevators usually require a coded key card or pin to access that floor. This gender segregated option is considered a selling point for these hotels. I’m not sure if it is issue driven like women only train cars (to avoid unwanted groping), a “luxury” product due to added amenities, a cultural thing where women prefer to be roomed near other women.

    It could be JAL is trying to cater to a female market with late night departures from Japan but are just a bit off… 4 seats on a flight = cheaper than a better amenity kit, specifically allowing nursing, and designating a child movement friendly area?

    @Rob – Women usually look for a clean and well lit area to do their makeup. An economy lav after a transpacific flight doesn’t exactly fit that desire. Then again, I’ve seen Japanese ladies doing their makeup on the subway/train, being jostled around corners…

  5. I have to believe they would have to allow men in the section too as long as they were dressed in drag? Equal rights and all………….especially on the flights to Thailand……..

  6. I lived in Japan for a year, and in my experience women in Japan tend to be very modest, especially if they are from the more rural areas. They may be more comfortable sitting away from others, not nursing in such close quarters to men they do not know. Coach seats do not allow for much privacy!

  7. I would find it offensive to be asked to move to a different seat if I were to nurse my baby.

    Besides that, babies often fall asleep while nursing so whatever seat I was sitting in while nursing, would be the seat I’d sit in for the duration of the flight.

  8. I agree. Anytime an airline gets to identify and address certain needs of passengers is a brownie point. This nursing and make-up section in a JAL certainly adds values to the plane tickets.

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