So, I have this idea.
Somebody ought to start a brand new airline…specifically targeting families.
It would be an instant success.
Parents would flock to buy tickets in record numbers.
Here’s what I have in mind:
Friendly Attendants in Fun Costumes. I have to say that I was quite disappointed in our airline attendants on both United Airways and Alaska Airlines this past weekend. They were less than outstanding. Mr. Grumpypants on United barely smiled or made eye contact – and literally slouched the whole flight with a scowl on his face. Ms. CrabbyLady on Alaska gave us a lecture when we attempted to throw away a diaper in the…trash (?) – and she was none-too-nice about it either, even when we were smiling and saying, “thank you.”
My solution? Hire hospitable, optimistic, outgoing people who love kids and can do funny tricks (like play peek-a-boo, make balloon art, and do magic tricks). Discard the drab navy suits, heels, and hose (boooring!) and make the uniforms bright, colorful, and fun. I’m thinking suspenders, bow ties, dresses or pants – in primary colors.
Free Kid-friendly Snacks (that are healthy). Here are a few ideas: animal crackers, teddy grahams, carrot sticks and ranch dressing, apple slices, whole plums or pears, cheddar pretzels, jicama sticks, goldfish, dried apricots, yogurt-covered raisins, airplane shaped cookies, or snikiddy snacks. Drink options? Water. Whole Milk. Lemonade. All served in kid-friendly cups with lids and straws.
All Kid Movies, All of the Time. Played onboard. All rated G. Monsters, Inc. The Emperor’s New Groove. Babe. Beauty and the Beast. Peter Pan. An American Tail. Lady and the Tramp. Wall-E. Cinderella. Aristocats. The movies need not be new. Many older movies are equally mesmerizing for today’s child.
Kid Magazines. Skip the bland, commercial airline magazines and create a magazine specifically with kids in mind. The pages should be filled with stories, crossword puzzles, games (tic-tac-toe, hangman, pictionary, etc.), weird factoids, and drawing lessons. Psst…I think this kind of magazine would be more appealing to adults too.
Unexpected surprises & thoughtful gestures.
- During the holiday season, hand out candy canes and serve hot cocoa. Read a Christmas Poem over the loud speaker.
- Midway through the flight, play “Happy Birthday” and hand out lollipops to all kids (12 and under) who had their birthday that month.
- Give a special gift to the parent traveling with the youngest child (or the most children).
- Play fun music at take-off and landing.
- Create a “frequent flyer” club for kids – kids can earn cool prizes or a certificate the more times they fly.
- Have nursing covers, blankets, and pillows on-hand for parents to use during the flight.
- Offer hand sanitizing gel at the boarding gate.
Social Media “helps” for parents. The airline would have a blog with travel tips (what you can and can’t carry-on, traveling internationally with a baby, how to apply for a passport, etc.), a twitter account with giveaways and discounts, and a facebook page for fans.
I hope there’s a billionaire out there who wants to make another billion and start this airline. If not, it would be wonderful if already-established airlines would at least consider implementing some of these tips. How easy would it be for an airline to turn half of their ho-hum magazine into a children’s activity book? Or for an airline to hire people with a bit more…ahem…personality? Little things DO go a very, very long way – especially for weary parents traveling with wee ones.
YOUR TURN: Would you fly on an airline geared to families? What would you like to see airlines do for families?