Babies (and parents) love flying thanks to these ‘sky nannies’

Etihad Flying Nannies_a680x215

By Debbie Pappyn, Classe Touriste

In 2003, Bahrain-based Gulf Air was one of the first airlines to introduce a special service for traveling families with kids: the Sky Nanny program. Gulf Air’s Sky Nannies offer help with boarding and disembarkation, hand out goody bags and give parents a much needed break during a long flight when it is time to take a nap.

Every Gulf Air Sky Nanny is specially trained for inflight childcare services so parents can relax more during the flight. The nanny arranges drinks or convenient dining times (with on-board baby food) for the children and sets up the bassinet for the baby and check on them if the parents are sleeping. Sri Lankan Airways offers a similar ‘Child Care Stewardess’ service.

Etihad
Recently, Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways also introduced a ‘nanny in the sky’ concept (video here). The airline’s brand-new in-flight child assistance program, Flying Nannies, is designed for all travellers on long-haul flights and is available for every passenger, regardless of which class they are flying in. In the past year, Etihad Airways has trained 300 crewmembers to become experts in childcare. By the end of 2013, there will be 500 Flying Nannies trained in child psychology and sociology at the Norland College in England.

The Flying Nannies, who will be dressed in a bright orange apron, help young families to have more comfortable and relaxing flights. From single parents traveling alone with a baby to families with several kids that all need attention, the nanny will help families with children as well as unaccompanied minors. She (or he) will serve special kids’ meals, see to it that the parents can enjoy their meal more comfortably and will even hand out drinks like full milk bottles, fruits or snacks for after the flight.

Long-haul flights will become more fun for kids because the nanny will keep them busy with amusing games and arts and craft projects like origami or making greeting cards for friends or family at home. Also magic tricks or being creative with things on board like the paper cups or the socks that passengers wear during the flight. Older kids will be entertained with quizzes or will be taken on a tour throughout the airplane.

Happy parents
The fact that more Middle-Eastern airlines are offering extra services to young families shows that not only the business or premium traveller is important to them as a customer. Flying with kids can be challenging, not only because for a young family this means a certain amount of money, but also because long-haul travel is not always the most pleasant thing to do with and for kids. Nannies in the air are about to change this.

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