The last time I rode an airplane over the summer, it was a two-hour flight on a small, slightly cramped airplane. Two rows behind me, a toddler spent the long ride crying until he soiled his diaper and an unpleasant smell perfumed the air. The flight attendant tried to encourage the mom to head to the restroom, but the mom avoided doing so. Needless to say, some passengers were put off -- and a group of young women started debating the merits of paying extra money to ride planes sans children.
While airlines aren't charging passengers extra money yet to ride child-free planes, some international airlines have started designating child-free areas on their flights (similar to how some restaurants have instituted a No Children Allowed policy). Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia, and Singapore's Scoot have all started banning kids under 12-years-old from different decks and zones. Other airlines have even started offering nanny services to passengers with kids. Last month Etihad Airways, the main airline for the United Arab Emirates, announced their Flying Nanny program where cabin crew members are trained on how to distract, entertain, and take care of noisy children during flights. Etihad is only the second airline to offer this type of air nanny service in the past decade. Gulf Air, a Bahrain airline, has been offering a similar Sky Nanny program since 2002.
But if parents want a more experienced nanny for just a short period of time, Nanny in the Clouds is a site where parents can plug in their domestic and international flight information to find nannies traveling on the same plane. Parents pay an hourly rate to get nanny service for just the duration of the flight. Otherwise, parents can consider bringing along their own personal nannies -- though the costs will certainly add up.
With the upcoming holiday season, some form of plane travel will be inevitable. As a parent, would you consider hiring your own in-flight Mary Poppins, no matter the nanny price tag? Or would you follow in the footsteps of one couple, who packed treat bags with candy and earplugs for every passenger on their flight? And, do you think the idea of child-free sections and flight-attendant nannies will eventually take off with U.S. airlines?