United Arab Emirates’ national airline Etihad Airways has launched a dedicated in-flight child care assistance program for families, led by the introduction of a new Flying Nanny on board long-haul flights.
Identified by bright orange aprons, each Flying Nanny aims to provide a ‘helping hand’ to families and unaccompanied minors. They will also introduce children to the exciting collectable Etihad characters – Zoe the bee, Jamool the camel, Kundai the lion, and Boo the panda – who accompany them on their trip.
During the past two months 300 Etihad Airways cabin crew members have completed enhanced training for the role. A further 60 will be trained in September and 500 Flying Nannies will be working across Etihad Airways flights by the end of 2013.
The course includes in-depth training, from the world-renowned Norland College, concentrating on child psychology and sociology, enabling the Flying Nannies to identify different types of behavior and developmental stages that children go through and how to appreciate the perspective and needs of traveling families.
In addition, the course also covers many different creative ways the Flying Nanny can entertain and engage with children during flights.
Aubrey Tiedt, Etihad Airways’ Vice President Guest Services, said: “Flying with a young family can be a daunting task, even for the most experienced travelers, and the Flying Nanny role demonstrates our understanding of our guests’ needs and our commitment to making the journey as relaxing and comfortable as possible.”
During the flight the Flying Nanny will utilise her specialist training, supporting the needs of families and unaccompanied minors, as well as supporting other cabin crew members when they interact with families.
Tiedt added: “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.”
Claire Burgess, Early Years Consultant, Norland College, said: “Norland College is delighted to be a key partner in developing and delivering the Flying Nanny program with Etihad Airways as both organizations share a mutual respect for children and families.”
Many of these activities derive from a special kit, which contains straws, stickers, cardboard and other items which the Flying Nanny uses to teach simple arts and crafts such as creating special greeting cards for friends and family.
The Flying Nanny will also frequently use service items such as paper cups, which can be made into hats, and the Japanese art of origami to fold paper into sculptures. All activities are designed so the Flying Nanny can leave the children to produce and complete on their own.
A key on-board highlight is set to be the creation of sock puppets, which uses stickers from the Flying Nanny kit as eyes and the socks from the guest’s travel pack.
In addition to arts and crafts, the Flying Nannies can also teach children simple magic tricks which helps retain their focus and interest while seated.
For older children, the Flying Nanny is equipped with simple quizzes and challenges to keep them occupied as well as taking them on tours of the galley during quieter moments of the flight.
Towards the end of the flight the Flying Nanny will help parents by replenishing milk bottles, and offering items such as water, fruit and other snacks, especially if the family is transiting to another flight.
The Flying Nanny will also advise families that are transiting at Abu Dhabi about the various baby changing and child facilities at the airport, as well as informing them that there is a children’s play area at Gate 32 in Terminal 3, and in the premium lounges.