Flying Families

KLM ‘Night Light’ lets kids count the days until their travelling mom or dad will return

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By Marisa Garcia, FlightChic

For mommies (and daddies) flying  KLM on a quick business trip and leaving kids behind, bed time is a difficult time.

But KLM has come up with a charming way to soothe the little ones missing their parents with a special night light which lets them pretend to be on the flight.

The new KLM Night Light, was designed specially for the families of business travellers, KLM explains.

It’s a mini aircraft with a light behind each window of the Night Light, marking each night the traveller will be away. The lights turn off one by one as the days get closer to the return flight, with all the lights off by the morning of the big arrival back home.

KLM says the light also represents the airlines commitment to punctuality, ensuring parents get back home when promised.

KLM’s BlueBiz loyalty programme who book tickets via KLM’s BlueBiz website before 1 May, could win one of the the KLM Night Lights the airline is giving away with this promotion, and others can buy a KLM Night Light for € 33 (or 13,200 miles) in KLM’s online shop. Read full article »

China Airlines unveils ‘Family Couches’ on its upcoming B777-300ERs

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This article originally appeared on >talkairlines

By Kai-Chin Shih | >talkairlines

China Airlines has finally released details on its Boeing 777-300ER Economy Class, which will include normal Economy Class seats and the new Family Couch. Family Couch is a version of Air New Zealand’s (ANZ) revolutionary Skycouch. ANZ licensed the seating type to China Airlines earlier this year, making China Airlines the first airline other than ANZ to install the seats.

Family Couch is a row of three Economy Class seats that together adapt to create a flat flexible space to stretch out and relax in. Passengers can raise the footrests and armrests 90 degrees during inflight and enjoy a comfortable sleep. The experience can be further enhanced with the mattresses, pillows, and blankets provided by the cabin crew.

Specially designed seat-belts, to be attached to the passenger’s seat and the front seat-back (which is the reason why Family Couch won’t appear in the first row) are also handed out by the cabin crew, indicating that unless one buys Family Couch ticket, he/she can’t enjoy the bed-seat. When all the footrests and armrests are raised up, the total area of the seat set will be 64cm wide and 140cm long.

10 rows
This new type of seat will be installed in the ten rows after the first row of Economy Class. However, they will only be limited to the far right section. A three-person ticket for Family Couch can be up to 60 percent cheaper than the fare of three Business Class seats.

Both the Family Couch seats and the normal Economy Class seats are manufactured by Zodiac Aerospace. The seats are slimmer than China Airlines’ current Economy Class seats and can allow passengers to recline up to 118 degrees, compared to the current 106 degrees and seat pitch is 32 inches. Each seat comes with a 11.1-inch high definition personal screen which uses Panasonic’s new eX3 system.
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Babies (and parents) love flying thanks to these ‘sky nannies’

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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.

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.
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Lufthansa opens dedicated check-in counters for ‘flying families’

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By Raymond Kollau,

Lufthansa, long known as a business traveler’s airline, has lately been repositioning itself in order to broaden its appeal to leisure and family travelers. Says Erik Mosch, director of product management, airport and passenger services at Lufthansa, “Realizing growth means broadening the carrier’s scope beyond business travel. Lufthansa discovered that, in Germany at least, consumers viewed it as a business traveler’s airline.” […] “Regular people were not sure if Lufthansa wanted its business,” Mosch told Travel Weekly. The airline now wants to appeal more to leisure travellers and “to be recognized as a family-friendly airline.”

On the ground
To cater to the growing number of ‘flying families’ on board, Lufthansa has recently opened Family Check-in counters at its Frankfurt and Munich hubs. At the family-friendly desks – which can be used by families traveling with children up to 12 years old – children can climb a few steps so they can watch the check-in procedure, receive their boarding pass and also a special ‘Best Friend’ boarding pass for their teddy or cuddly toy accompanying them on their flight.

A ‘Family Guide’ brochure is also available at check-in. It contains tips and information for parents about the location of airport play areas, baby changing facilities, restaurants that provide children’s menus, chemists, supermarkets and the nearest observation deck, as well as vouchers for special offers at the airport.

The Family Check-in desks can be easily recognized because of a large welcome arch, while the path to the counters looks like a runway and overhead monitors display the airline’s kid mascots Lu and Cosmo.
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Emirates offers parents in transit free use of baby strollers at its Dubai hub

By Raymond Kollau,

Airlines from the Gulf Region tend to make an extra effort to accommodate passengers travelling with young children. Witness for example Gulf Air’s Sky Nannies who offer help with boarding and disembarkation and keep a watchful eye on children during the flight should parents doze off or just want to get engrossed in a book or a movie. A Sky Nanny is also present in Gulf Air’s lounge at Bahrein Airport.

On a similar note, Etihad’s ‘Family Room’ at its Abu Dhabi hub, has nannies meet and greet families travelling with children at the lounge entrance before taking the kids to the family room, where they can play with toys, read books and watch television all under supervision of the nannies that have professional training in childcare and first aid.

Stroller service
Meanwhile in Dubai, Emirates – which sees the majority of its passengers transfer to another flight at its hub – for several years has been offering a complimentary baby stroller service for passengers arriving and transiting at Dubai International Airport.

The baby strollers are available to passengers on arrival at every Emirates gate at the airport. The colourful strollers, easily identifiable with their prominent Emirates branding, are manufactured by MacLaren and include a disposable hygiene seat cover. The baby strollers are placed in specially-marked cupboards located at arrival gates for passengers disembarking their Emirates flight so they can conveniently help themselves to a stroller.

Emirates baggage staff are on hand to ensure these strollers (including twin versions) are available round-the-clock and that the cupboards are always stocked. For passengers ending their journey in Dubai, strollers can be returned at designated areas in the arrivals baggage hall and for passengers in transit, strollers can be deposited at their next departure gate.
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UK leisure carrier Thomson lets kids ‘check-in’ their teddy bear

By Raymond Kollau,

UK leisure carrier Thomson Airways, which carries over five million passengers a year to more than 80 holiday destinations across the globe, last month launched a novel front-desk process that allows young holidaymakers to ‘check in’ their teddy bear before they get onto the plane. Teddies can be registered prior to flying and receive a special boarding pass, which can be exchanged for a VIB – ‘Very Important Buddy’ – tag at the gate.

The idea is to help ensure that children take extra care and do not misplace their favourite companions amid the flurry and noise of a busy airport. Gatwick Airport’s lost-property department receives up to 30 lost stuffed animals every month and each loss leads to shed tears. As the Daily Mail nicely puts it: “It can be one of the most upsetting issues affecting a junior traveller – that moment of carelessness or distraction that sees a teddy bear left lying on an airport seat, or lost by a baggage carousel, spinning around in sorry silence amid the last remaining suitcases.”

For Thomson the main objective of the ‘teddy bear check-in’ is for children to pay closer attention to their toys when flying. Says Carl Gissing, Director Customer Service at the airline: “As a family-friendly tour operator, we like to make a fuss of children travelling on our holidays, both in resort and on their flight,” . “We know that kids will love checking their toys in and taking home the VIB tag as a souvenir.”
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TAM lets kids help flight attendants with onboard service

A growing number of airlines are launching dedicated services and products aimed at improving the flight experience for families with children. From the previously discussed ‘Happy Mom’ initiative by Asiana and the ‘Sky Nanny’ by Gulf Air to kid-friendly tray table covers, these kinds of initiatives may be welcomed not just by parents and children, but also by other passengers who also benefit from initiatives that keep the youngest passengers entertained. Passenger complaints about sitting near children are a recurrent issue in flying.

One airline that has been very creative in keeping the kids busy in-flight as well engaging children in the world of aviation, is Brazilian airline TAM.

TAM Kids
Together with educational advisors, TAM developed the TAM Kids program which consists of three main elements: A TAM Kids website where children can play games, get to know characters from the TAM Kids Team and learn about the history of aviation, the experience on board the aircraft, and a ‘kids room’ at the TAM museum that includes aviation-related toys, games and attractions, including flight simulators and a hangar and control tower replica.

Onboard experience
With parental consent, children up to 12 years of age can also sign up for TAM Kids and receive an official ‘Comandante Kid’ badge. On-board, children with ‘Comandante Kid’ badges are invited to help the crew by welcoming passengers on the flight’s PA system, distributing candies before the flight takes off (videos here and here), and visiting the cockpit after the aircraft has landed. In addition, TAM provides the children with the TAM Kids magazine, kid-friendly meals, and on international flights, IFE channels with movies and music for children.
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Asiana extends ‘Happy Mom’ service with ‘PreMom’ package for expectant parents

Last year, we reported on Asiana’s ‘Happy Mom’ service, which aims to make life easier for families traveling with infants by offering dedicated check-in counters at the airport, and free breast feeding nursing covers, baby slings, and car seat-like baby seats in the air. South Korea-based Asiana Airlines says the Happy Mom service has proved to be very popular so it decided to extend the service to couples who are expecting a baby. 

PreMom Service
Started at November 1st 2010, Asiana’s new ‘PreMom’ service aims to solve the inconveniences that expected mothers face at airports and inside cabins during traveling. Services of the PreMom package include an exclusive check-in counter at the airport to minimize waiting time and an electric cart service to transport expectant mothers (and companions) to the departure gates 50 minutes before takeoff. 

At the gate priority boarding is offered in order to give pregnant women the maximum amount of space to move through the aisles of the aircraft. Onboard, front row seating is also provided to minimize the walking distance and to allow for easier access to the toilet. Asiana also hands out sleeping socks to keep expecting mothers warm and to help their blood circulation. A brochure with information on cabin stretching and airline regulations for travelling when pregnant is also handed out. Finally, Asiana Airlines has developed a special priority tag so checked luggage will be delivered more quickly upon arrival. In a clever commercial move, the socks, brochure and luggage tags are sponsored by Korean baby brand PreBebe.
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‘Flying Families’: Kids are getting their own airline lounges

Many airports offer playgrounds for kids to keep them entertained while waiting for their flight. For example, Singapore Changi features several children’s playgrounds and even a 4-storey slide, while Schiphol Airport has a ‘Kids Forest’. Airports have also teamed up with brands to offer ‘brand spaces’ for kids and babies. At Amsterdam Schiphol, baby food brand Nutricia runs a ‘Nutricia Babycare Lounge’, while at Paris’ Orly and Charles de Gaulle airports kids can play at the ‘Gulli area’, a playground povided by Gulli, a French children’s TV channel. Jetblue’s T5 terminal at New York JFK features a ‘Fisher Price Play Space’.

Air France
Besides these public facilities, airlines have recently began opening their own dedicated lounges for kids. Air France just launched its first lounge for unaccompanied minors at Paris-Orly airport, which the airline mainly uses for domestic and regional flights. Nearly 380,000 unaccompanied minors travel on Air France every year, and approximately 70% of them travels within France and to the French Overseas Departments. Under the watchful eye of Air France staff, children can play, rest, read or watch DVDs in the new 40 sqm lounge. Air France has also opened a summer-only 200 sqm lounge At Paris-Charles de Gaulle during the school vacation period for kids traveling alone. Airlines such as KLM (‘Junior Jet Lounge’), Lufthansa (‘Kinderlounge’) and BA (‘KidZone’), Emirates and Etihad have also been operating similar unaccompanied minors lounges for several years.

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Smart tray table cover designs help keep kids busy inflight

A new range of smartly designed products is helping to ease air travel easier for parents traveling with kids. Dubbed ‘inflight entertainment for kids’, these sleeve-style play centers can be slided over any airplane seat tray table, turning it into an activity center, so infants can be kept busy when in flight. 

For toddlers aged 6 to 24 months, the Air Play is a double-sided tray table cover activity center that is designed to fit over most airplane tray tables. It has different features on each side so that a child can play whether the tray table is down or stowed in its upright and locked position. The brightly colored tray cover’s activities include a crinkle strip, repositionable geometric shapes, different color ball beads,  an oversized buckle, button and zipper, as well as a peek-a-boo mirror; a photo album, and a mesh pocket that contains a soft dog character rattle toy. The Air Play Tray Table Cover retails for USD29.99 (EUR22.50/GBP20) and is available through online retailers such as and Babies R Us.
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Asiana’s ‘Happy Mom’ service helps make life easier for flying families

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.
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