Sept. 19--While some airlines have introduced an onboard sanctuary away from screaming toddlers or seat-kicking kids, Etihad Airways takes a different approach.
The UAE's flag carrier is providing a helping hand to families and unaccompanied minors with the help of specially trained cabin attendants known as "Flying Nannies".
The fast-expanding Abu Dhabi-based carrier is believed to be the second airline in the world to offer a dedicated in-flight childcare service, which was pioneered by Bahrain-based Gulf Air in 2002 with its "Sky Nannies".
This is a different approach from AirAsia X, Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines' budget carrier Scoot, which introduced child-free zones on aircraft to create serenity for passengers prepared to pay extra.
"Flying with a young family can be a daunting task even for the most experienced travellers, 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," said Aubrey Tiedt, Etihad's vice-president for guest services.
Over the past two months, 300 Etihad cabin crew have completed in-depth training from Britain's Norland College, which has provided childcare training for more than 120 years.
A further 60 will be trained this month and 500 Flying Nannies, identified by a bright orange apron, will be working on Etihad's long-haul flights by year-end.
Flying Nannies use their specialist training to support the needs of families and unaccompanied minors.
They also help other cabin crew when they interact with families.
They use their experience and knowledge to create ways to entertain and engage children by liaising with parents to make the travel experience easier, said Ms Tiedt.
The Flying Nanny service is available in all cabin classes, free of charge, on long-haul services including Etihad's flight between Bangkok and Abu Dhabi.
Although none of the airline's 134 Thai cabin crew has yet completed Flying Nanny training, a spokesman said the airline is looking to put some through the course soon.
Prior to launching the Flying Nanny service, Etihad already had a family room in its lounge at Abu Dhabi airport offering toys, books, games and qualified nannies.
However, that service is restricted to first- and business-class passengers and only at Abu Dhabi.
Flying Nannies use a special kit containing straws, stickers, cardboard and other items to teach younger children simple arts and crafts such as creating special greeting cards for friends and family.
They also teach children simple magic tricks to keep them entertained while seated, said Claire Burgess, Norland College's early years consultant.
For older children, the Flying Nanny is equipped with simple quizzes and challenges to keep them occupied.
Tours of the galley can also be made 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 inform families transiting at Abu Dhabi about the baby-changing and children's facilities at the airport.
Copyright 2013 - Bangkok Post, Thailand
NAS will provide Etihad with passenger services, cargo services and ramp handling at Kuwait International Airport.
Airline now flies to 96 destinations with a fleet of 86 aircraft, and has 90 aircraft on firm order, including 41 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners and 10 Airbus A380s.