Sky Nanny To The Rescue

Most parents will tell you that a long-haul flight with kids in tow sounds like a recipe for disaster. What they really need is a nanny from heaven … 

Long airport queues and overcrowded lounges are instant red flags for those who might be considering a long-distance family vacation, and the thought of being trapped in a tin can 30 000 feet above the ground with nowhere to run can deter even the bravest of parents. Enter Etihad’s Fly Nannies…

With 2 000 Flying Nanny graduates to its credit since the programme’s inception in September 2013, Etihad Airways (the official airline carrier for Abu Dhabi) leads the way when it comes to high-altitude childcare. In partnership with UK-based Norland College for higher education, cabin crew can participate in bespoke training that will allow them to combine their hospitality and service skills with superior family support. Etihad crew members are trained at the state-of-the-art Innovation Training Academy (ITA) in Abu Dhabi, which can accommodate 320 staff in a single shift. The ITA is used for Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 service safety and hospitality training, with installed open-plan First Suite and Business Studio mockups.

How to train a nanny

It’s hard work in the ITA classrooms!

Etihad’s world-class Flying Nannies are trained in child psychology, sociology and parental support in the ITA’s dedicated Flying Nanny training room, designed in the style of a child’s playroom. This equips them with in-depth knowledge and skills to identify different behavioural and developmental stages that children go through, as well as how to appreciate the perspective and needs of travelling families. However, it is not just about the theory. Each Flying Nanny is taught creative ways to entertain their young passengers and the training room also has on display the specific products they will use to actively and engage their temporary wards.

How to spot a nanny

The orange apron of the Flying Nanny

Red for stop; green for go; orange for Flying Nanny! Yes, the Flying Nannies are easy to spot in their bright orange aprons.

How to entertain an Etihad Explorer

Flying Nanny Kit

The Flying Nanny will introduce children to the exciting collectable Etihad characters – Zoe the bee, Jamool the camel, Kundai the lion, and Boo the panda – who accompany them on their trip. The Flying Nanny Kit is part of a range of ‘Etihad Explorers’ children’s activity packs. All activities are designed to promote greater interaction between Flying Nanny and child, but allow for children to produce and complete them on their own. To earn their ‘Flying Nanny stamp of approval’ an Etihad Explorer will be encouraged to:

  • Use service items such as paper cups to make hats.
  • Fold paper origami-style into sculptures.
  • Create sock puppets that use stickers from the Flying Nanny kit as eyes and the socks from the guest’s travel pack.
  • Learn simple magic tricks and face-painting to help retain focus and interest while seated.
  • Complete simple quizzes and challenges, if older children.
  • Take tours of the galley during quieter moments of the flight.

Family room in Premium Lounge, Abu Dhabi

Towards the end of the flight, the Flying Nanny will help parents replenish milk bottles and offer them items such as water, fruit and other snacks, especially if the family is transiting to another flight. They will attend to unaccompanied children, advise transiting families about the various baby changing and child facilities at the airport, and inform them of the children’s play area at Gate 32 in Terminal 3, and in the premium lounges.

Children’s playroom, First Class Lounge & Spa

How to thank a nanny

Aubrey Tiedt, Etihad Airways’ Vice President Guest Services, said: “The Flying Nanny role demonstrates our understanding of our guests’ needs and our commitment to making the journey as relaxing and comfortable as possible.” It is this kind of dedication to service excellence, guest satisfaction and childcare that deserves your ‘Flying Traveller stamp of approval’ and a heartfelt thank-you as you wave goodbye to the nannies in the orange aprons and plan your next hassle-free trip to the United Arab Emirates through Big Ambitions.

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By: Tracy Maher. Image: Etihad Airways

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