Uber for Inflight Nannies: New Service Matches Parents With Helpers Who Want to Travel

A new matching services hopes to connect passengers who need to travel with their kids with nannies to help them inflight in exchange for travel assistance or cash.

The business is called AirPair (pairing up people for air travel, and sounds like au pair,

a young foreign person, typically a woman, who helps with housework or child care in exchange for room and board.

Flying with children is challenging which I’m certainly learning. When my daughter was 3 months old we took her to Paris. At 5 months old we took her to Sydney. Those trips were easy – she slept through most of the flights. Now Phoenix, New York, or Orlando take far more preparation and focus. No doubt many families don’t travel because of how difficult it is (even without the fear and derision from other passengers).

Launched a year and a half ago, the service so far is focused solely on US – Tel Aviv and is described as perfect for someone who wants assistance inflight but isn’t looking to pay someone to stay with them throughout their trip.

Here’s how it works: If you’re in need of an extra pair of hands en route to the Jewish state, all you have to do is visit AirPair’s website. Alana will match you with a fellow traveler who is willing and able to help.

…According to Alana, they’re everyone from “college students and yeshiva students to businessmen and grandmothers.” Just like not all Airbnb rentals are hotels or motels, not all AirPairs are professional babysitters or caregivers. But most of the 1,000 or so sitters on her roster have some experience with childcare and all of them receive some training from AirPair.

Prices vary in the marketplace, “some may charge $20 an hour, others get paid the full ticket price and then some” although there are some people who “even volunteer their service for free as a mitzvah.” The site takes a percentage of the fee.

It’s not just families that use the service, it’s expanded to help elderly, disabled, and unaccompanied minor travelers as well, “like a 94-year-old Holocaust survivor flying to Israel to see her grandson.”

This is probably far more reliable than banking on help from an Etihad nanny (and Etihad doesn’t serve Israel in any case) or getting help entertaining your kids from a flight attendant.

Credit: Etihad

(HT: Adam G.)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. As a person who flies from Florida to Rhode Island and then back again to help my daughter fly with our 3- and 4-year-olds, I find this an interesting concept. I particularly like the possible expansion to help elderly, disabled, and unaccompanied minor travelers. If someone is looking for a free ticket somewhere and is willing to help, why not?

  2. I hope they have reeeeeeaaaaaaaalllllllyyyyyyyyy good screening.

    >Hi, I’m D. Mon from drag story hour and I’ll watch your kids on the flight.

    Or worse this could be a good way for your kid to win a trip to epstien island…..

  3. If you can’t take care of your own kids during a flight, where they really can’t get away from you, then you really shouldn’t have kids. I can see having them take care of your kids at the destination (I still wouldn’t do it, but I get it), but what else do you have to do during a flight?

  4. I hope they expand to other routes. I would love to do this.

    Not everyone is flying for vacation. My son’s girlfriend helped her sister with the sister’s three young kids on a flight to Asia. The sister’s husband is in the U.S. foreign service and was already there working.

    I took my now 100-year-old mother on flights up until just two years ago. She needed someone to help her through the airport and make sure she didn’t fall getting to the bathroom on the plane. Travel is just too exhausting for her now, but she gave it a good run!

    Gary, you just sparked my new budget retirement travel fantasy – fly for free as an AirPair, then house-sit when I get there.

  5. My family has a lot of history of even just one adult flying with multiple, young children. I don’t really see why two working-condition adults traveling together with 1-4 young children would need an accompanying assistant for the flights or even at the airports if they got their act together and did some common sense stuff in advance of checking-in.

    This kind of service may make sense for a single adult traveling with very young triplets or even very young twins, but otherwise it seems like a product of poor child-care and related planning skills.

  6. And if one working-capable adult on a plane can’t take care of their own normal 2-, 4- and 6-years old children by themselves on a plane, the adult really has some missing parenting/guardian skills. Even in-flight bathroom use can be managed easily enough with three young kids with that kind of age spread.

  7. Does everything have to be “Uber for X” these days?

    Remember when we just called this stuff “Temp work?”

  8. I don’t understand the point of all the people complaining that people shouldn’t need this. Who cares about your opinion on that?

    The fact is that there apparently ARE people who want the service, and people willing to provide it. I don’t care what their reasons are, as far as I’m concerned they can strike that deal if they want to. It’s such an incredible world we live in that allows them to find each other.

  9. I was in the Private Room at Singapore Changi and saw a couple with a small boy (probably 4 or 5 years old) and a baby come in accompanied by a nanny. They were flying LHR – SYD in Suites (a round trip that will cost $40,000 or thereabouts for four people), not bad work for the nanny I guess but she probably wasn’t able to partake of the Krug or Dom Perignon on board…

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