How many times, so near to sweet, fleeting sleep on a red-eye, have you begged the flight gods that There Shalt Be No Crying Babies Onboard? Parents, how often have you watched in shame the sugar-fueled rampage of your offspring trapped high in the sky, praying for a sniffle so you can give the kid some sleep-inducing cold meds, while your seatmates shoot you withering "bad parent of the year" stares?
Flyers, your prayers have been answered. Etihad Airways has come up with a practically perfect solution to all your child-flying woes: on-board nannies.
The airline launched its Flying Nanny program this weekend for long-haul flights. Bedecked in bright orange aprons, these mile-high Mary Poppins (who are trained in child psychology and behavioral development stages by Norland College in the UK) promise to provide a "helping hand" to families and unaccompanied minors. They’ll entertain little ones with everything from sticker kits and origami sculpting to sock-puppet tricks and a magic show. Older kids can enter quiz contests and get VIP tours of the galley.
The Flying Nannies will serve kid-friendly meals first ("which means your little ones are fed and happy by the time you’re served your meal," the airline cheerfully boasts) and can assist in setting up baby bassinets and calming the wild rumpus before bedtime.
Etihad, however, adds an important caveat in the fine print:
"Our ‘Flying Nanny’ is here to assist you, but cannot assume full responsibility for your child during the flight, especially as they need to be available to help other families as well. Likewise, our Flying Nannies cannot due to legalities and safety, carry out personal care routines for your infant or child, such as nappy changing or taking them to the bathroom. And whilst we can’t take them off your hands completely, as we must cater to the needs of every family onboard, we hope our ‘Flying Nanny’ goes some way to making your experience with Etihad that little bit more relaxing and enjoyable."
If that’s not enough remedy for you, you can always try one of several Asian airlines who’ve already created child-free zones on their flights, including Malaysian Airlines, Scoot (a partner of Singapore Airlines), and AirAsia X.
Or, you know, earplugs and a martini.
Photo credits: Courtesy of Etihad Airways