Three years ago Etihad launched onboard nannies.
This isn’t a premium cabin benefit, it’s available even in coach, and the idea is to offer help with preparation of bassinets, to look after unaccompanied minors, and even keep children entertained while parents – economy passengers, no less – nap, eat, or watch a movie. Of course, the nanny spreads their time across all the families onboard so it’s not free unlimited babysitting to offload your kids for the duration of the flight.
My role is to help every family have a smooth flight. I meet and greet all the lovely little VIPs with a special package that has coloring pencils, a book, cards for a fun game of memory, stickers and more. I help show the children how to navigate the movie menu for our kids’ club section.
I show mom how to block any other movies on our screens in case she falls asleep while her little angel is breaking bedtime rules. I am there to help any family to have an easier flight — whether that means to cater their meal times differently to our serving times, to distract the child with coloring competitions and other fun games while mom and/or dad take a break or even help mind the children while the single traveling parent takes restroom breaks and a quick stretch.
…I do not think that a cabin “class” of travel differentiates parenting skills or parenting nature. We are here to make the flight as enjoyable as possible for children and parents across all classes of service.
Etihad has just announced new child activity packs and a Flying Nanny Kit.
- On flights to Abu Dhabi: “a new collectable character bag for 3 to 8-year-olds contains an activity booklet, crayons, card games and a color-in mask.”
- On flights departing Abu Dhabi: T”a unique suitcase board game which allows parents and children to play together, a foam lion character, color-in postcards, crayons, and a handy waterproof travel wallet.”
They have different packs, then, in each direction so kids don’t see the same thing both ways.
Nine to 13-year-olds get “Sudoku, mazes, lined notes and join-the-dot games” as well as “an Abu Dhabi-themed pencil case, pencil, a dual-function bookmark and ruler, and a notepad.” In December they’re launching a child’s menu as well.
Remember when airlines offered playing cards and captain’s wings? Etihad is signaling they want families onboard and want to be the preferred airline so that families choose them over other carriers, presumably especially over their cross-UAE rival Emirates. Their Abu Dhabi hub is just an hour’s drive from Dubai, the airport with more international passengers than any other in the world.
These are ‘little things’ in some sense, but competition is great. Flyers in the US ought to wish that competition here was legal and push for the elimination of US airline foreign ownership rules.