Etihad turns flight attendants into nannies

Etihad Airways is training some of its flight attendants to be 'flying nannies' on board flights.
Etihad Airways is training some of its flight attendants to be 'flying nannies' on board flights. 

While low-cost carriers in Asia are leading the way with child-free zones, Etihad Airways will have a “flying nanny” on long-haul flights.

So far 300 cabin crew have been trained at childcare specialist Norland College in Britain and by the end of this year 500 will be onboard flights of the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates.

The airline says the flying nannies have been educated in child psychology and sociology to identify different behaviours and developmental stages and how to appreciate the needs of travelling families.

Children's meals will be served earlier and, especially handy for transiting passengers, milk bottles will be replenished and snacks provided for the next leg.

Singapore Airlines' budget offshoot Scoot recently introduced a child-free "silent" zone, following AirAsia X's quiet zone, which bans children under 12.

An Etihad spokesman said there were no plans to create child-free zones on its aircraft, with children permitted to travel in any cabin class.

“We're confident the flying nannies will make a big contribution to keeping kids entertained on long-haul flights,” he said.

Also trained in the gentle art of distraction, nannies will use inflight items such as paper to teach origami to young charges.

First and business class passengers at its Abu Dhabi hub can also access family rooms where there are books, toys, a children's menu and qualified nannies to watch offspring while parents take a break.

A sky nanny has been a fixture on Gulf Air long-haul flights since 2003.

Meanwhile, Japan Airlines (JAL) will introduce four seats at the rear of economy on October 1 for women's grooming and feeding babies on its flights between Tokyo and Honolulu.

A spokesman for JAL says the early morning arrival of flights into Honolulu, crowding of toilets before landing and 60 per cent female passengers was behind the decision to reserve the seating.

The airline has also recommended pre-schoolers travel on certain flights and will increase its number of children's books and toys accordingly.

Children were free to travel at anytime but a 7.50pm departure from Tokyo and the Honolulu-Tokyo flight arriving 1.25pm were optimal for rest compared with later flight times, according to the spokesman.

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