How air­lines are cater­ing to their small­est cus­tomers: chil­dren

Tehran Times - - HERITAGE & TOURISM -

More and more air­lines are turn­ing their at­ten­tion to their youngest trav­el­ers — both to ap­pease their par­ents, and to keep other pas­sen­gers happy on long flights.

Air­lines are con­stantly try­ing to find new ways to win cus­tomers. In this never-end­ing com­pe­ti­tion, car­ri­ers — mostly in­ter­na­tional ones — are now turn­ing their at­ten­tion to their youngest pas­sen­gers, woo­ing chil­dren (and be­lea­guered par­ents) with new ameni­ties such as toys, child-friendly toi­letry kits, meals and amped up seat back en­ter­tain­ment.

Paul Tumpowsky, a fa­ther of a tod­dler daugh­ter and the co-founder and chief ex­ec­u­tive of the New York travel agency Sky­lark, said that these new ameni­ties go a long way in keep­ing chil­dren oc­cu­pied on long flights. “If chil­dren are happy, then par­ents are happy, and they as­so­ci­ate the air­line with a pos­i­tive flying ex­pe­ri­ence and are more likely to choose it for fu­ture trips,” he said.

■ “Kids kits” keep chil­dren seated, happy, and quiet

Emi­rates re­cently in­tro­duced a kit that young pas­sen­gers re­ceive as soon as they board. It contains a travel-themed re­us­able bag or lunch box, a col­or­ing book with mark­ers and an arts and crafts project such as an origami kit. Older chil­dren get an an­i­mal back­pack with a travel jour­nal, and ba­bies and tod­dlers get a stuffed an­i­mal such as an ele­phant or al­li­ga­tor.

In ad­di­tion, the air­line has an ex­panded menu of chil­dren’s in-flight meals in­clud­ing chicken ten­ders and var­i­ous kinds of pasta, served on a col­or­ful tray. To keep them sa­ti­ated be­tween meals, chil­dren get a snack box with a cookie and sliced fruit.

Qatar Air­ways also has a new ac­tiv­ity pack for chil­dren with crayons, col­or­ing pages, stick­ers and a puz­zle book. In­fants get a stuffed toy, along with a plush book. The air­line has also in­tro­duced new seat back en­ter­tain­ment aimed at chil­dren. It in­cludes more than two dozen fam­ily-friendly movies that change monthly, and chil­dren’s tele­vi­sion such as The Dis­ney Chan­nel, Nick­elodeon, the Car­toon Net­work and BabyTV.

Qan­tas also of­fers a kit with an ac­tiv­ity book with puz­zles and word games and even an Etch a Sketch toy. On se­lect in­ter­na­tional flights, young­sters get col­or­ful an­ti­skid socks that they can wear on­board.

Turk­ish Air­lines has sev­eral new on­board of­fer­ings for chil­dren. They re­ceive a sack of three sus­tain­ably-made wooden fig­urines like pan­das and sol­diers, and a back­pack amenity kit that in­cludes a child-sized head­set, a den­tal kit, socks and slip­pers. Par­ents with ba­bies get a kit with a di­a­per chang­ing mat, dis­pos­able bib, rash cream, baby lo­tion and shampoo, a packet of wipes and a breast pad.

■ Toys and videos keep chil­dren calm and en­ter­tained

On Sin­ga­pore Air­lines the cabin crew gives out toys to chil­dren based on their age. Ba­bies, for ex­am­ple, re­ceive plush blocks, while pre-school-age young­sters get mini puz­zles, and older chil­dren get a Mo­nop­oly Deal card game. The air­line plans to change the toys quar­terly.

Young pas­sen­gers also get to pick from a chil­dren’s menu with more than a dozen items, like a burger with fries, fish sticks with diced veg­eta­bles and pan­cakes with sausage.

When it comes to do­mes­tic car­ri­ers, Jet­Blue re­cently de­buted kid-fo­cused videos from Headspace, a med­i­ta­tion ser­vice, as part of its in-flight en­ter­tain­ment. One of the videos, for ex­am­ple, is a five-minute car­toon that teaches chil­dren how to stay calm on a flight. The air­line also has a new “Party Up” food box de­signed with young­sters in mind. Sold on­board for $9, it in­cludes M&M’s, pop­corn, Fig New­tons, Parme­san cheese crisps and salami slices.

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