An Airline for Families

airplane genericSo, 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:

colorful bowtie funFriendly 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.

animal crackersFree 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.

movies lights camera actionAll 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.

magazine father sonKid 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.

surpriseUnexpected surprises & thoughtful gestures.

For example:

  • 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.

iphone clip artSocial 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?

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20 comments on “An Airline for Families”

  1. Coming over from your recent post... when we flew this spring it was on Northwest and KLM and then Air France. The first two were average... I'm totally conflicted about Air France. For one thing, they brought our son a little toy to play with (albeit not very age appropriate) but on the other hand they were not going to serve him a meal (on a trans-Atlantic flight) because he hadn't bought a ticket and was sitting on my lap. I thought that was not okay. The other airlines had no problem giving an extra meal for an almost 2 year old lap child. Adding to my dissatisfaction with Air France was our experience in Paris when we almost missed our flight due to the very very poor signage and layout of the airport. I will have to give the stewardesses credit though, on a full plane they managed to find us 3 seats so he didn't have to sit in our laps the whole flight... although the seat I was moved to was incredibly uncomfortable. And it was the last row of the plane so went from 4 across to 3 and the seat backs didn't match up so we had trays in the armrests and couldn't lift them. So you see why I'm conflicted! ;)
    Otherwise I've only flown Alaska and Virgin America in the US with a child... both were fine, but nothing outstanding!

  2. WOW what a vision!! i have yet to fly with my three kids (we usually drive). we are thinking we might attempt that in the next year or two before the kids cost us more.
    i`d definitely fork out money for the kind of airline your suggesting provided their prices are comparable. :)

  3. Wow!! I think those are great ideas and could be fun for the parents too, especially knowing that if the kids are having fun then it should make for an enjoyable ride. I think offering the option to play video games while in their seats...I know that would help me son make it through the flight with no problems. I think you need to work on those airlines and present your ideas because they are good ones!!

  4. This is an excellent idea. Why has no one ever done this before? I would definitely go for that one. As long as it's not too much more expensive...

  5. This is a fabulous idea! Well, all but the birthday lollipops. :) I can just see all the other kids crying about not getting a lollipop like the other kids did.

    And as for healthy snacks, they should do that on the airlines anyway. It seem like all they serve are soda, oreo cookies and cheezits. More variety please!

  6. Um...maybe you can create this airline and we will fly it all the time! Thankfully, the times I have flown with my kiddos, the staff has been so great...especially on a red eye flight when our daughter (who was 15 months at the time) was feeling miserable. Jet Blue has been a winner every time for us! Metropolitan Mama Airlines sounds dreamy!

  7. I might have been willing to give a five hour flight to California for Christmas this year more than 30 seconds of thought if an airline like this existed! It is a great idea Stephanie, I hope someone with the power to make it happen is listening.

    As it is I know that I couldn't deal with my irrational fear of flying, an impatient-while-traveling-on-public-transportation of any sort husband and the two kids who would have to be entertained for the whole flight so we're driving, it's a 24 hour drive - but we're driving. If there was an airline like the one you are describing in existence my irrational fear of flying would be the only thing I would have to deal with. Hubby and the kids would be much easier to get along with on that type of flight instead of on a traditional flight.

  8. I completely agree. The closest to this I have been on is Jetblue. Free healthy snacks, movies and direct TV and roomier seats. You would think I work for them but I don't I just appreciate the extras they put into their services.

  9. The thing I wish companies would understand is that even the littlest things can make harried parents (and their children) happier and loyal customers.

    And it is even a small timeframe - what I call the "lugging years," say 0-4 or 5, where you are lugging everything everywhere: the car seats, the diaper bags, the snack bag, the toys, the boneless child, her napping sister... During that very-brief-in-retrospect timeframe, simple conveniences go a long way.

  10. I fly alone with my 15 month old quite often. I took her on her first flight at 3 months alone. I found that typically you get a few people that are very friendly and helpful and then a few that seem to go out of their way to be rude or unhelpful. My biggest flight attendant pet peave is when they try to give me parenting advice. On my most recent solo flight one well intentioned flight attendant tried to insist I give my 14 month old apple juice in a cup. She was quite insistant that babies get dehydrated quickly on planes (she had already had 2 cups of milk and a cup of water). I said no thank you politely she uses a sippy cup and we don't give her juice. I then got "a look" from her and she moved on. I pretty much just expect the worst and hope I am pleasantly surprised. The worst is American Airlines. They don't even have changing tables in the restrooms! I was told by the flight attendant I would have to "be creative" and to write the airlines if I was dis satisfied! Geez, change a baby with her standing up on the lid of the toilet while on a moving plane!! UGH!

  11. I flew on Aeroflot a couple of years ago with a baby. And was suprised by a "baby gift pack" brought to us by a flight attendant on a plane. It included diapers, bibbs, bottles, snacks, wipes, and a toy! I could not believe it!

  12. This is a fabulous idea! As i was reading your suggestions I was also thinking that this is something that Disney could pull off. I hope someone takes note and starts this airline!

  13. OH, I LOVE this idea, and I hope that some airline companies read your post!

    We have had very good experiences with Lufthansa airlines, for flights between the US & Europe. When traveling alone with a one-month old baby last year, the flight attendants were most helpful.

    We have many more flights coming in our future, though, and I'd love for them to be more kid-oriented; but not annoying for those not traveling with kids.

  14. I think this is a really good idea. My three year old is a friendly inquisitive and hyper active fellow. Some airline staff are really nice with him but most of them scowl and mutter. Plus there is really only that much stuff i can carry on board to keep him occupied. the trouble starts on long distance flights even worse when we have to wait long hours for a connecting flight. I hope word gets around to Mr. Branson and Virgin comes up with the kind of kid friendly airline u have in mind.

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