Etihad announced today that they’ve launched a “flying nannies” program, whereby select cabin crew members have gone through training to become in-flight nannies. So far 300 cabin crew have completed the training for the role, while 500 will have completed the training by the end of 2013.
This suggests to me that the flight attendants being trained aren’t exclusively going to be “flying nannies,” but instead just have an added certification, much like a flight attendant may be purser qualified, language qualified, etc.
It’s interesting to contrast this to Emirates’ first class shower attendants, for example, of which there are two on every longhaul A380 flight. Their only job is to clean the two first class shower suites and at intervals clean the other bathrooms on the plane. They’re not actually flight attendants, have a totally different contract, have to share hotels on layovers, etc.
So what exactly will the flying nannies be doing?
The flying nanny will liaise with parents and use their experience and knowledge to make the travel experience easier. This includes helping serve children’s meals early in the flight and offering activities and challenges to help entertain and occupy younger guests.
Etihad said that towards the end of the flight the flying nanny will help parents by replenishing milk bottles, and offering items such as water, fruit and other snacks especially if the family is transiting to another flight.
I’m not sure if Etihad forgot that in most cases you can’t bring fruit into a country for a connecting flight, but I suppose the intent is nice.
My guess is that this is more hype than anything, and to some degree I think they’re setting people up for disappointment. I’m sure to some people “flying nanny” will mean someone you can leave your toddler with for the entire flight, and not just someone that performs basic services for kids that you’d expect from any cabin crew member at a top airline.
Now, if only they could have story time like Air New Zealand…