Hundreds of flying nannies are to be added to Etihad flights from Monday.
The nannies are in place to take the pressure off parents travelling with restless youngsters. The free service will encourage kids to enjoy colouring and crafts and, if requested, the mid-air carers will serve food to children first so parents can enjoy their own meals in peace.
Restless children will also be shown how to make sock puppets and paper animals by the specially trained nannies, who will wear bright orange aprons.•••••
The child minders will also carry out normal air hostess services. One will be available on every Etihad long-haul flight and they have been trained by the famous Norland College nanny school in the UK.
So far, 300 air hostesses have been trained for the initiative, which begins today. Another 200 will be added by the end of the year. Aubrey Tiedt, Etihad’s vice president of guest services, said that flying with a young family can be “a daunting task, even for the most experienced travellers” and that the free nanny service would help release the pressure.
“That can mean the children get their meals first so parents can relax and enjoy theirs, or it can mean extra entertainment for the kids - much more than the simple activity pack they normally get on flights,” she said.
However, Etihad warned flyers not expect too much and said that the women will not be changing nappies.
“It’s about a helping hand really, rather than being a nanny as people might have at home here,” a spokesman said. Child psychologist Nora Al Hassan said she thought the service sounded like a great way to take the stress off parents during a long flight. “This is not a case where the nanny is taking the place of the mother, which happens sometimes with domestic nannies. Also, it takes some of the fright away for children who are flying alone, which is never the best option,” she said.
Mother of two Monique Jain said it was a wonderful idea, adding: “There is nothing worse than trying to sleep on a plane with a screaming two-year-old beside you. Any help is welcome.”