Marry Poppins would have been proud. Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has launched a dedicated in-flight ‘flying nanny’ childcare assistance programme for families.
The world’s fastest growing airline has partnered with Bath-based Norland College, a leader in training and education for nannies worldwide, to deliver a specialist childcare training programme for 500 cabin crew.
Identified by bright orange aprons, each flying nanny will provide a ‘helping hand’ to parents and unaccompanied minors on board all of the airline’s long-haul flights.
During the past two months 300 Etihad Airways cabin crew members have been trained to become a flying nanny and a further 200 will work across the airline’s fleet of aircraft by the end of 2013.
The flying nanny course at Etihad Airways’ training academy in Abu Dhabi teaches trainees about their role and responsibilities, such as introducing themselves to families at the aircraft gate and providing assistance with boarding, as well as creative ways to better interact and entertain children while in-flight.
The course includes a day hosted by lecturers from the world-renowned Norland College who offer training in child psychology and sociology which helps the flying nannies to identify the different types of behaviour and developmental stages that children go through and how to appreciate the perspective and needs of travelling families.
Aubrey Tiedt, Etihad Airways’ vice president guest services, said: “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 make the journey as relaxing and comfortable as possible.
“This demonstrates our intent to go the extra step to assist all of our customers.”
During the flight the flying nanny will utilise their specialist training to support the needs of families and unaccompanied minors, as well as guide other cabin crew members when they interact with families.
Activities for children derive from a special kit which contains straws, stickers, cardboard and other items which the flying nanny uses to teach simple arts and crafts such as creating special greeting cards for friends and family.
In addition to the arts and crafts, the flying nannies can also teach children simple magic tricks which helps retain their focus and interest while seated on the aircraft.
For older children, the flying nanny is equipped with simple quizzes and challenges to keep them occupied as well as taking them on tours of the galley during quieter moments of the flight.
Towards the end of the flight the flying nanny will help parents replenish milk bottles and offer items such as water, fruit and other snacks especially if the family is changing planes to another flight.