Emirates provides a luxurious experience in the sky.  Anyone who’s had the pleasure of flying in their First Class suites knows that they can positively ruin you for flying any other way.

But, though they are certainly busy cooking up something amazing for their new A380s and 777s (which they’ve only teased us with hints of so far), Emirates airlines has made a point of ensuring that children and families flying together get a First Class experience; no matter what class they fly.

The charmingly named Tinkerbelle Economy Class Experience, has everything a child needs to feel at ease in the air.  (And their parents too.)

Emirates has just announced that they will be expanding their services for youngsters, and with good reason.  The carrier reports that they carried 2.3 million children on their flights last year.

As summer approaches, the airline expects to host a high volume of families flying for their holidays, and is preparing for all those little passengers by coordinating some special treats.

Complimentary baby strollers and changing tables are available at Emirates’ dedicated Terminal 3 in Dubai Airport, and there are separate dedicated play areas–where the kiddies will find a selection of toys waiting for them–at Emirates’ exclusive lounges.

Families travelling with young children receive priority boarding.

Onboard, there are dedicated children’s channels on Emirates’ ICE entertainment system, including an array of cartoons, interactive games, special podcasts fit for children, and a selection of CDs for them to choose from.

Emirates Fly With Me Monsters 1li
Emirates Fly With Me Monsters, Image Emirates Press Office

Emirates has more than 60 children’s movies on ICE, including the entire Harry Potter series, a section dedicated to Disney classic movies, and over 20 dedicated children’s television channels including CBeebies, Disney Junior, Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon.  The music selection includes One Direction, Justin Bieber and Katy Perry.

Here are some of the other Perks kids travelling with Emirates  can expect to find onboard:

  • In-Flight meals especially made for children (2-12 years) and also for babies.
  • A children’s magazine called Fly With Me Monster–My Monster Magazine
  • Fly with Me Monster toys with blankets, Sketchers and seatbelt critters
  • Brightly coloured children’s headsets
  • Quicksilver wallets, travel journals, backpacks, cooler bags, story books and eye masks
  • Skysurfers membership with Emirates Skywards

“We go to great lengths to entertain and occupy children with products and services that are constantly being updated and enhanced,” says Sheikh Majid Al Mualla, Emirates’ Divisional Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations, Centre. “ We know keeping the young ones happy is a key part of ensuring a smooth and enjoyable travelling experience for the whole family so investment in this area is very important.”

And this is a very good point.  We often focus on the Passenger Experience (#PaxEx) as if it is the exclusive realm of adults.  It’s true that more adults fly than children, but if travel is stressful for adults it is often much more so for children.

We complain about the noise and fuss children make in the cabin.  We discuss child-free cabins which will allow business persons to work and rest more effectively (a very good idea by the way).  But really, just entertaining the kids, making their travel experience a positive one, can help to make the trip less stressful–not just for the kids but for everyone else onboard.

It’s good to see airlines focus on making children happy.  Other airlines have focused on ensuring there’s something special on board to entertain children.  I think of Etihad’s Nanny service and Asiana’s recent introduction of magician’s onboard, just to name two.

Etihad Nannies: 

Asiana live entertainment:

Asiana brings some magic to the cabin. Image Asiana Airlines
Asiana brings some magic to the cabin. Image Asiana Airlines

The only problem I saw with the Asiana special entertainment product (which was not just focused on the kids) was that it relies on flight attendants to do an awful lot of tasks; in addition to their critical cabin safety and core cabin services duties.

For an airline to demonstrate that they want children to feel at ease flying with them, as Emirates has, and to provide a complement of In-Flight products which are most likely to result in happy children, is a smart business strategy–especially during the heavy family holiday season.

Also important: Emirates makes some provisions for children’s safety onboard.  They provide bassinets to passengers (on advance request) and have belt extenders for children flying as lap-children.  It’s still far from the ideal of airlines providing special belts designed for little passengers as a standard product offering, but it’s a start.

Emirates states that they allow the use of seat belts approved for tots by the regulatory authorities.  They also encourage parents to book a seat capable of holding a forward-facing child carrier, which is a safer alternative than trying to carry a small child on your lap.

Our first flight is an experience is one we are likely to remember for a lifetime.  Smart airlines who focus on making this first experience a pleasant one, will win future loyal flyers too.

The focus on enhancing the passenger experience should not be limited to the affluent, or the business person, or the tourist alone.  It needs to consider all persons who want to fly, and need special accommodation–that includes our children.

What do you think aviation could do to make flying better for the little ones (and the passengers who fly along with them)?  Go on.  Don’t be shy.  Share below:


Featured Image: Emirates Fly With Me Monsters, via Emirates Press Office

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