Etihad Airways launches its new ‘flying nannies’ kit

The Etihad Explorers packs that kids now get to take home still incorporate Etihad’s existing themed characters (Kundai the Lion, Zoe the Bee, Jamool the Camel and Boo the Panda), but these goodie bags have been redesigned by UK-based agency Milk Jnr’s & Kidsworks to be age specific.
Etihad Airways nanny Slava Pavets shows her skills by entertaining 11-month-old Jariel Neal during the launch of its Etihad Explorers, which will feature Flying Nanny and Etihad Explorer kits for children. Delores Johnson / The National
Etihad Airways nanny Slava Pavets shows her skills by entertaining 11-month-old Jariel Neal during the launch of its Etihad Explorers, which will feature Flying Nanny and Etihad Explorer kits for children. Delores Johnson / The National

Etihad Airways is hoping to make long haul flights a less daunting task for families with the launch of its new range of children’s activity packs.

The airline was the first to introduce the world to the concept of ‘flying nannies’ - unless you count Mary Poppins - back in September 2013. But now Etihad’s team of 700 nannies has been given new ammunition to keep kids from running riot en-route.

The nannies are all trained by the same college where Prince George’s nanny Maria Borrallo learnt the ropes - Norland College, in Bath in the United Kingdom. They’ve learnt not only how to warm up milk bottles and provide nappies when required, but also how how to make origami airplanes or captain’s hats out of paper, help children create finger puppets and even - in true Mary Poppins style - pull off a few magic tricks. Kids can now arrive at their destination’s arrivals hall with their faces painted like a leopard or like Elsa from Frozen, thanks to the face painting kits that Ethad’s nannies have now been armed with.

“It’s not that we give the nannies a template - we want to allow them to bring their creativity into the job,” explains Calum Laming, Etihad Airways’ Vice President Guest Experience.

The Etihad Explorers packs that kids now get to take home still incorporate Etihad’s existing themed characters (Kundai the Lion, Zoe the Bee, Jamool the Camel and Boo the Panda), but these goodie bags have been redesigned by UK-based agency Milk Jnr’s & Kidsworks to be age specific.

“We used to have a one-size-fits-all bag, but now we have a range of packs to suit flight durations and ages,” says Laming. “The quality and content has changed, because of the amount of investment we’ve put behind it. We want our families to want to come back, and we know that flying long haul, although exciting, can be difficult for parents. We want to make it as comfortable for them as possible.”

On inbound flights to Abu Dhabi, the new bag for 3- to 8-year-olds contains an activity booklet, crayons, card games and a mask for colouring in. Flying from Abu Dhabi, the packs include a suitcase-themed board game, a foam lion, colour-in postcards, crayons and a waterproof travel wallet.

Those children ages 9 to 13 get Sodoku, mazes, lined notepads and jon-the-dot games as well as an Abu Dhabi-themed pencil case, pencil, and a dual-function bookmark and ruler.

One or two nannies are now present on all of Etihad’s long haul flights (six hours or more), and they’re also on hand in Etihad’s family rooms in all lounges of Abu Dhabi International Airport.

According to Etihad’s Vice President of Guest Services, Linda Celestino, the nannies have been put through their paces in a two-week training programme that’s about more than just child’s play. “There’s the safety element too – things like warming milk up and how to hold a baby,” says Celestino, who is herself a mother of five. “There’s a lot of child psychology in there. Sometimes it’s just about being able to read a quiet story to a little one so her mum can use restroom.”

In addition the new activity packs, Etihad is all set to launch a new kids menu in December.

artslife@thenational.ae

Published: September 21, 2016 04:00 AM

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