Etihad Airlines, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, recently announced that its long-haul flights will feature a flight attendant in a distinctive, bright orange apron whose only job is to assist parents traveling with children, from the boarding gate until the end of the flight.
The airline calls this person a “flying nanny,” and she’s been specially trained at Norland College, a training academy for childcare specialists based in England. Etihad’s flying nanny has kids’ games and activities and can watch a child while the parents catch a snooze, dine, or watch a movie.
They aren’t babysitters, per se, especially since there’s likely to be more than one family aboard a flight. But they’re there to warm a bottle or help a child find appropriate entertainment on the plane’s in-flight television system.
I’ve seen individual flight attendants go out of their way to help parents with kids. But it’s the exception on most US airlines, not the rule. And that’s too bad.