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When is a child a child?

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When you turn 18 you are considered an adult.  Therefore, below the age of 18 you must be classified as a child.  Right?  Wrong!  At least not in the eyes of some of Australia’s largest companies who will charge adult rates for children with some starting this pricing structure at the tender age of 12.  Twelve and they aren’t even considered a teenager yet.

Check out this list of companies and the age that they classify when children start paying adult prices:

  • Qantas – 12
  • Virgin-Blue – 12
  • Event Cinemas – 16
  • Dreamworld – 14
  • Seaworld – 14
  • Movieworld – 14
  • Sizzler Restaurants – 13
  • P&O Cruises – 14
  • QLD Travel Trains – 16


So once children reach the above ages they are expected to pay the same price as an adult yet they legally cannot drink, drive, vote or join the army or police force.  They pay the same price as an adult yet don’t receive the same privileges as an adult.

When it comes to companies that are selling a seat to a person like Qantas and Event Cinema’s, nothing has changed in regards to the occupancy of that seat.  What I mean is that it doesn’t matter if the person sitting in the seat is 8 or 80, the cost is the same.  So why shouldn’t a child be afforded the child price right up until the age of 17?  Once they turn 18, they start paying the full adult fare.  From a different perspective, why give a discount for children at all?  If the service doesn’t cost any more or less irrelevant of age, then why offer a discount?  It shouldn’t matter who is occupying the chair, it’s being used.  Companies offer the discount to encourage families to use their services.  The counter argument is that if companies have to provide a discounted price to children up to the age of 17, then you would see a spike in the cost of the adult prices to cover the new discounts.

I would like to see the Australian Government have a minimum standard when it comes to child fares and pricing based on a minimum age.  Keep it consistent amongst all companies and legalise it.  This will avoid a lot of confusion for families who are never quite sure if their child is really a child when using that companies services.

What other companies are out there that start charging adult prices below the age of 18?  What is the lowest age you have seen when a child is classified as an adult?

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