Airline Hires “Flying Nannies” To Give Parents A Break On Board. But Will It Help?

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Sept. 4 2013 6:50 PM

Airline Hires “Flying Nannies” To Give Parents A Break On Board. But Will It Help?

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The first flight from Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, to Sydney marks the opening of the airline's new non-stop route.

Photo by Patrick Riviere/Getty Images

Long haul flights can be a pain. Throw a screaming child into the pressurized cabin mix and, no matter how sympathetic you are, it can turn into a sleepless disaster.

Etihad Airways, however, thinks it has the solution: “Flying Nannies.” The United Arab Emirates national airline has not, in fact, trained its air stewards to fly, but they have beefed up on child-friendly training. The “Flying Nannies” will not only have the usual childcare essentials at their disposal—stickers, sock puppets, magic tricks, general arts and crafts—the onboard parental assistants have book learning to back up their methods, says the airline.

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The course includes in-depth training, from the world renowned Norland College, concentrating on child psychology and sociology, enabling the Flying Nannies to identify different types of behaviour and developmental stages that children go through and how to appreciate the perspective and needs of travelling families.

While it certainly can’t hurt to have a steward that doubles as a magician, some of the ideas seem like, well, a bit of a stretch. “The Flying Nanny will also frequently use service items such as paper cups which can be made into hats and the Japanese art of origami to fold paper into sculptures,” says the airline. “All activities are designed so the Flying Nanny can leave the children to produce and complete on their own.”

In other words, back to you mom and dad! Don't get too comfortable.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

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