October 2009 | South Korea-based Asiana Airlines is rolling out a new service to make life easier for families traveling with infants. Asiana’s somewhat traditionally named ‘Happy Mom’ service lets young families use dedicated check-in counters at the airport, and onboard the airline provides free breast feeding nursing covers, baby slings, and car seat-like baby seats.
More specifically, on the ground Asiana provides what it calls the ‘3E services’ – Express Check In, Express Boarding and Express Baggage – to allow young families to shorten the waiting period at airports. Acknowledging that mothers face difficulties in feeding their infants onboard (usually, feeding takes place in the toilets or the galleys of the aircraft), Asiana provides breastfeeding covers, which allow mothers to remain in their seat, and at the same time have some privacy when feeding their baby. For parents with infants that are too large or heavy (often babies older than 6 months) to fit in a bassinet, Asiana in association with Agabang, a Korean manufacturer of baby products, developed an infant sling, so parents can sit more comfortable with their baby during the flight. Parents of older toddlers can also request a baby safety seat to be installed, so they do not have to bring their own.
Asiana says that with the new service it wants to solve the inconvenience that occurs while traveling with an infant in airports and aircraft cabins, as it saw a steady rise in families traveling with infants (in 2008 around 20,000 infants boarded its planes). The ‘Happy Mom’ service was started on the 1st of October at 10 international airports (Incheon, New York, LA, Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, London, Frankfurt, Paris and Sydney). Starting next year, it will be available at all 66 international destinations the airlines flies to.
Update 19 November 2009: Asiana says its ‘Happy Mom’ service has been well received during the first month it has been available to passengers. According to the airline it had 2,277 passengers traveling with infants in this period, with 1,043 passengers using the dedicated check-in counters and 167 passengers using the breast feeding covers.