Flying Nannies: The Real Life Mary Poppins?

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flying nannies

(Photo: Etihad Airways)

With the new school year having just started, many of you will have recently returned from a summer holiday abroad. But, despite the excitement of arriving at a sunny destination for a week or two of fun and relaxation, most parents will agree that travelling with babies and children can be quite challenging, particularly when it comes to flying!

The unfamiliar surroundings, ear pain, noise and air sickness can be unsettling for babies, and bouts of crying are usually inevitable, while older children can become bored and disruptive, causing many parents to worry about annoying other passengers. In a survey conducted by Go Compare, it was revealed that plane passengers are generally less annoyed by drunks, rude cabin crew and noisy neighbours, with many saying they’d pay up to £50 more for a child-free flight.

Gone are the days when the plentiful supply of cabin crew were able to tend to distressed or bored children, taking them for walks around the cabin or even to the cockpit to meet the pilot. Not only did this provide little ones with entertainment, it also offered exhausted parents a few minutes to themselves – making the flight a little more peaceful for everyone on board.

It was revealed this week that Etihad Airways will be trying to combat the issue by introducing “flight nannies” on board their long haul journeys to assist parents with young children. Specially trained nannies approved by the famous Norland College in Bath will use their knowledge and experience to help keep younger travellers occupied and happy – aiming to minimise disruption to other passengers.

Aimed especially at single parents and unaccompanied children to offer a helping hand and make the journey a little less daunting, the nannies possess a range of skills including child psychology, engaging with children and even origami to keep little ones entertained.

Unlike other airlines, Etihad said they have no plans to introduce child-free flights that have caused controversy recently, hoping that the presence of their on-board nannies will help to create harmony between all passengers.

We’d love to hear about your experiences flying with your little ones. Would you welcome a nanny on board your flight? Have you ever had any complaints from other passengers? Or, if you have any tried and tested travel advice, do let us know via our Top Tips page.

If all else fails, you can take a leaf out of Christina Diaz and Michael Rubinstein’s book. The American couple handed out bags to fellow passengers, with a note explaining: “We’re twin baby boys on our first flight and we’re only 14 weeks old! We’ll try to be on our best behaviour, but we’d like to apologize in advance just in case we lose our cool, get scared or our ears hurt. Our mom and dad have earplugs available if you need them”.


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