‘Flying Nannies’: Would You Use One?

Photo: Shutterstock / The Bump
Photo: Shutterstock / The Bump

Your airline experience is about to get a sky-high makeover. Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, is now offering “Flying Nannies” to passengers on-board.

The nannies are specifically trained to entertain children on long-haul flights. Aubrey Tiedt, Etihad Airways’ Vice President of Guest Services, said, “The Flying Nanny will liaise with parents and use their experience and knowledge to make the travel experience easier. This includes helping serve children’s meals early in the flight and offering activities and challenges to help entertain and occupy younger guests.’

According to the company’s website, Etihad Airways has trained more than 300 cabin crew members for the role as Flying Nanny. This month, they’ll train 60 more, adding more on the roaster each month so that by the end of 2013, a total of 500 Flying Nannies will be working across Etihad Airways flights. The training course includes in-depth training from the Norland College with a focus on child psychology and sociology, which will help enable the nannies to recognize different times of behavior and developmental stages that each child goes through to better care for the needs of traveling families. In addition to the training, they’ve also learned different and creative ways to entertain and engage with children during these flights.

The nannies — who are all female — wear bright orange aprons and aim to “provide a helping hand to families and unaccompanied minors.” Younger passengers will also be introduced to Zoe the bee, Jamool the camel, Kundai the lion and Boo the panda (all traditional Etihad characters) on their flight.

As far as games go, the nannies will have a special kit to play with, including straws, stickers and cardboard cutouts so that the children can learn simple arts and crafts. They’ll also have paper cups at their disposal, which can be made into hats. Children will also learn the Japanese art of origami to fold paper into sculpture. All of the activities, the website says, are designed so that the Flying Nanny can leave the children to produce and complete on their own. They’ll also have sock puppets, simple magic tricks and even quizzes and challenges for older passengers.

When appropriate, children will be taken on tours of the gallery during the flight. Towards the end of the flight, nannies will help parents by replenishing their milk bottles and offering them water, fruit and other snacks (in case the family is headed on to another flight). For passengers whose final destination is Abu Dhabi, Flying Nannies will be a source of education, advising them on the various changing and child facilities at the airport, as well as the children’s play areas.

Do you think this type of service would be helpful for parents on flights?

Plus, more from The Bump:

Tips for Flying With a Baby?

Best Travel Tips for New Parents

Everything You’ll Need for Your First Flight With Baby