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Etihad’s nannies in the sky
Abu Dhabi airline boosts child care up in the air
September 2, 2013 5:11 by Muhammad Aldalou
Even for the most experienced travellers, flying with a child in tow can be a daunting experience. A long-haul flight is stressful enough as it is, without the frustration of trying to keep a toddler calm, fed and entertained.
As part of its newly launched in-flight child care assistance programme, led by the introduction of ‘flying nannies’ on long-haul flights, Etihad Airways promises to make the onboard experience more relaxing.
Aubrey Tiedt, Etihad Airways’ vice president of Guest Services, says: “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.”
Over the past two months, the Abu Dhabi-based carrier has provided 300 members of its cabin crew with special training for the role, with a further 60 to be trained in September. The course includes in-depth training, concentrating on child psychology and sociology to help the nannies identify different types of behaviour and developmental stages.
By the end of 2013, the airline hopes to have 500 ‘flying nannies’ in total, lending a helping hand to families and unaccompanied minors, as well as offering a series of children’s activities, from arts and crafts to magic tricks.
Airlines in the Gulf region are renowned for excellent child care services, with Gulf Air, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways and the Dubai-based Emirates Airline regularly dubbed as some of the world’s most family friendly carriers.
In a study of international airlines by US News Travel in May 2012, Gulf Air, Bahrain’s national carrier, was ranked among the top seven global airlines as the ‘Best Family Friendly Airline’, with its Sky Nanny programme being a major highlight in its service.