Hear someone say “Flying Nanny” and an image of Mary Poppins dropping down into the lives of frazzled parents with her umbrella and luggage in tow automatically comes to mind.
Etihad Airways, national airline of the United Arab Emirates, is taking a more literal approach by introducing a fleet of flying nannies onboard their airplanes to help keep young children entertained and happy during flights.
The airline has already spent two months training 300 cabin crew members to take on this specialty position and hopes to have 500 orange-apron-clad flying nannies on Etihad flights by the end of 2013.
“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 Airways’ vice president guest services, in a release. ”
Each Flying Nanny will be able to use his or her psychological and sociological training to offer families a helping hand with little ones, will watch over unaccompanied minors and will help calm nerves by introducing kids to Etihad Airways characters who will travel alongside them — Zoe the bee, Jamool the camel, Kundai the lion and Boo the panda.
Flying Nannies will also help keep small flyers entertained by leading basic onboard arts and crafts sessions or teaching children magic tricks, while older children will be given quizzes or a tour of the galley.
“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,” Tiedt said.
Etihad Airways will offer the service free of charge.