Airline helps parents stay sane while travelling with young kids

31 October 2017 - 14:16 By Suthentira Govender
Young flyers can enjoy specially designed children's meals while flying on Emirates.
Young flyers can enjoy specially designed children's meals while flying on Emirates.
Image: Supplied

Less than 50 minutes is all it takes before young flyers on a long-haul flight ask the dreaded question‚ "Are we nearly there yet?"

But it takes 11-and-a-half hours to fly from Johannesburg to Dubai - creating a headache for parents.

In light of this‚ Emirates has teamed up with Dr Sandi Mann, a UK psychologist and boredom specialist at the University of Central Lancashire, to find innovative ways of keeping kids entertained while in the air.

This partnership resulted in a study that found that 64% of parents worry about entertaining their children on board‚ while 43% expressed concern about their children disturbing other passengers. It also found little travellers aged three and four to be the most volatile.

Bribery techniques like giving out snacks (41%) in exchange for good behaviour were often used by parents just to keep the peace. Other tried and tested methods of distraction include employing electronic devices (33%) even if they’re not allowed at home‚ handing out new toys (27%) to keep tots happy or trying to tire out their children by running around the airport before boarding (16%).

“Parents of children aged 3 to 4 will start to find that this is when their children are physically very active‚ gaining independence and when they need more sophisticated things to entertain them than they did when they were younger‚” said Mann.

“For instance‚ the ‘electronic babysitter’ whilst popular for a flight may not work for all age groups and parents of younger children will find that they have less attention span for this than older ones. Breaking up this passive activity for active or creative ones will stop children becoming bored‚ restless and disruptive.”

Mann suggests that "regular walks up the aisle are good for toddlers for exercise and for pre-toddlers to change the visual environment".

As for inseat entertainment, creative pursuits like drawing were the most popular until age nine‚ while colouring and sticker books have the most appeal to the younger ages.

"Don’t forget singing and interactive games like peekaboo [and 'I Spy'] are also great," adds Mann.

Fouad Caunhye‚ Emirates regional manager for Southern Africa‚ said: “We want families to continue making Emirates their first choice whenever they think of travel. That is why we continue to invest in products and services across all classes‚ and why our service teams work hard at providing the very best experience.” - TimesLIVE