Galley Gossip: Taking Care Of Other People’s Kids In Flight

Long ago I was on a flight from Chicago to Boston via New York when a weary woman with an active baby sat next to me. Having much experience babysitting, I was used to babies and thought I might be called upon to smile, wave and cheer up a crying baby, but never did I think that the mother would abdicate her responsibilities to me, a complete stranger.

The mom began to feel airsick (or so she said) and told me she was unable to change her baby’s diaper because she was about to throw up and asked me to do it for her. Guess what? I did it. I just felt so badly for the woman and the baby having to sit in the mess and yes, especially for myself because I could not stand the fumes either.

After the dirty job was done, she thanked me profusely and then said she was exhausted and asked me to hold her baby while she grabbed a few winks. She woke up when the wheels touched the ground to find her baby finally fast asleep on my shoulder. I prayed that they were not on my connecting flight. Am I crazy or just a Good Samaritan? Cheers, Priscilla

I’m going with Good Samaritan. I’m also going to say Thank God for passengers like you. While I can’t say that sort of thing happens often, it does happen, and not everyone is as nice about it as you were. Your act of kindness proves you’re a compassionate human being.

That said I came a cross a child acting out in a seat while we were doing the beverage service not too long ago. I couldn’t help but wonder why the mother wasn’t doing anything to keep her child entertained during the flight. Instead the mother had her eyes closed and ignored the child. Later on in flight the little girl came to the back of the airplane and asked for a soda. I went over to the mother to make sure that was okay. The woman shrugged. Not the response I expected. That’s when I asked a strange question: ​”It this your child?” The woman sighed and said no.Turns out the mother of this hyper six year-old had booked a seat in first class, leaving a complete stranger to sit beside her child in coach. I felt badly for the woman and offered her an adult beverage on the house.

Years ago on a different flight, I felt something between my feet. On this particular day I was commuting, not working, just a regular passenger wearing jeans in coach. So I didn’t necessarily look like someone you could trust. When I glanced down at the floor I found an infant staring back at me. I picked up the baby and looked around the coach cabin for someone who might be missing a child. No one fit the bill. But behind me a woman slept with her head against the window.

I tapped her on the shoulder. “Is this yours?”

“Oh, uh, yeah,” she said. She thanked me and went back to sleep.

“There’s nothing like being a new ‘uncle’ on a plane to a kid you’ll never see again,” wrote Mitch Lacey after I posted a tweet asking if anyone had ever gotten stuck taking care of somebody else’s child on an airplane.

Sonya Hamasaki had a little fun when she found herself seated next to a nine year-old. “He read me dirty jokes from his iPod. I taught him to play Candy Crush saga.”

Hopefully this won’t be a problem for long with airlines like Scoot creating child-free zones and Etihad Airways offering in-flight nannies. Not that this is an excuse to shirk responsibilities as a parent. Still you might consider packing a pair of noise canceling headsets and a nose clip next time you fly in case this should happen again.

Air Nannies To Make Flights Bearable For Kids, Parents And The Travelers Around Them

Flickr user JPMatth

Parents — and easily annoyed travelers — know just how difficult flying with kids can be. One airline offers a free nanny service to help keep the little ones entertained and quiet, while a second is planning to roll out their program by the end of the year.

There’s only one caveat: you’ve got to be flying to or from the Middle East to take advantage of the program.

United Arab Emirates’ Etihad Airways plans to roll out the nanny program by the end of December, according to NBC’s Today show. More than 300 crew members have gone through training at Norland College, a prestigious U.K. nanny training school, with 200 more slated to undergo training by the end of December.

Bahrain’s Gulf Air offers a similar program, according to its website.Ethiad’s nannies will “offer an extra pair of hands to help settle kids, age-appropriate games and activities, or advice and support for frazzled parents,” according to Today. Each plane will have an assortment of toys and craft projects that will hopefully keep the children distracted from the fact they’re trapped in a pressurized metal tube while flying 40,000 feet in the air in defiance of God’s will.

If you’re looking to snag some in-flight childcare, but don’t want to drop several thousand dollars for a ticket to the Middle East, Nanny in the Clouds allows you to find your own personal Marry Poppins who happens to be traveling to your destination. The usual fee is $20 an hour for a cross-country flight, but if your kids are particularly rambunctious, you can be sure that your fellow travelers will take up a collection to help you pay the costs.

A $4000 Eye Mask? Only On Virgin Atlantic

virgin atlantic eye masksVirgin Atlantic has done it again – this time teaming with Swarovski crystals to create the most over-the-top flight accessory we’ve seen in some time, a $4,000 sleep mask decorated with crystals depicting sunglasses ranging from the classic Wayfarer to the shutter shade made famous by Kanye West.

The cheeky masks, which, sans crystals, are now part of the Economy Class amenities kit, will be hidden in five flights from New York and LAX and hopefully discovered by newly styling passengers.

The bespoke eyeshades feature thousands of tiny red, white and blue crystals, all applied by hand by artist Saima Anwar (who also creates crystal eyelashes for celebrities such as Katy Perry). It took ten hours to make each mask, and over 3,000 Swarovski crystals.

Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class cabin has featured Swarovski crystals on the cabin walls since the launch of the Upper Class Suite in 2003, and most recently unveiled a bespoke crystal curtains onboard, adorned with over 1000 Swarovski crystals each in the revamped suite aboard A330 aircraft.

Starting this month passengers traveling in Economy will receive a new amenity kit containing eyeshades featuring one of six fabulous sunglass designs, including a pair of heart shaped sunnies, John Lennon-esque circular specs and some 80s retro shades.

Passengers in Premium Economy will receive kits in stylish charcoal gray pouches, made from recycled plastic bottles with silk linings. In Upper Class, Virgin Atlantic travelers will be presented with amenity kits made from the same recycled material, but in pouches sized perfectly to hold tablet devices and e-readers (a fabulous idea, if you ask us).

Sadly, Virgin isn’t the first airline to take a stab at producing blinged-out amenities kits. Back in 2011, Etihad launched Swarovski studded kits for their first class passengers. The rapidly expanding airline will soon fly from even more US destinations, including a direct from DC flight starting September 12.
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Visiting The Seychelles: Six Things You Need To Know

Seychelles

The Seychelles is a beautiful country of 115 granite and coral islands, pretty much in the middle of nowhere. Located 932 miles east of Africa and 1135 miles northeast of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, getting there takes some work. A transit point for trade between Africa and Asia, the Seychelles islands are known for their pristine beaches and untouched nature reserves that make a visit worthwhile.

The main attraction- No trip to the Seychelles is complete without a visit to the Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located on Praslin Island (pictured), this is the only place in the world to find the rare coco de mer palm and home to rare birds such as the Seychelles bulbul, fruit pigeon and the black parrot.What to do- Pristine and uncrowded beaches, some framed by age-old granite boulders, offer powder-soft sands, turquoise waters and good opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, diving, fishing or pure relaxation. Artists’ studios, national reserves, marine parks, water sports, golf, horse-riding and guided nature tours show travelers some of the rarest species of flora and fauna on earth.

Getting there- Air Seychelles is the national carrier, operating non-stop scheduled flights from Mauritius and South Africa (Johannesburg) into Mahé International Airport. Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Emirates also provide flights to various destinations through their hubs in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha.

Language- Languages spoken in the Seychelles are Seychellois Creole, English and French, all of which share the title of being the official language of government and business. Tourist areas are most commonly English-speaking.

Local currency- The GB Pound Sterling (£), the US Dollar (US$) and the Euro (€) are all accepted, as well as some other major international currencies. Exchanging foreign currency into Seychelles Rupees can only be done at banks, authorized money dealers at the Seychelles International Airport, or with a hotel cashier.

Staying there- A wide range of new and refurbished hotels, Creole guesthouses and exclusive island retreats are currently on 16 of Seychelles 115 islands. Other islands are expected to develop hotel facilities in the near future, which could be good or bad, depending on how one views tourism and all it brings.

Seychelles, with an estimated population of 86,000, has the smallest population of any African state but this week celebrated its 100,000th visitor to arrive in the islands for 2012. Also this week, Air Seychelles celebrated the arrival of its first Airbus A330-200 aircraft, named Aldabra in honor of Aldabra island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Seychelles’ most remote and pristine islands.




One more thing you need to know: “How to Visit Seychelles on a Budget” by Gadling’s Alex Robertson Textor.

Update, July 27th 2012: Quinn and & Co, the firm that handles PR for Etihad, reached out to tell us that Air Seychelles also flies into Abu Dhabi from Mahé.

[Flickr photo by MrFederico]

Etihad Airways launches direct service to Washington, DC

etihad airwaysEtihad Airways will begin daily nonstop flights from Washington, DC to Abu Dhabi on March 31, the airline announced.

“No other UAE carrier is offering nonstop services between DC and the UAE, so this capital-to-capital link is a huge opportunity for Etihad Airways,” said James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ chief executive.


The Washington region is home to America’s second largest market flying to the Middle East, after New York.

We’re wondering if the highly-acclaimed airline’s new route will cut in to Qatar Airways‘ market share. The airline had previously captured the luxury route with directs to Doha and easy UAE connections.

Last week, the US Department of Commerce released data showing that total trade volume between the US and the UAE rose to $18.3 billion in 2011, a 43 percent increase from the year before. This increase represents the highest trade volume to date between the US and UAE.
It also means that, for the third consecutive year, the UAE is the single largest export market for US goods in the Middle East.

The US is the fifth largest trade partner worldwide for the UAE.

“The point-to-point traffic between DC and Abu Dhabi is expected to contribute significantly to overall loads on the route,” Hogan added.

The direct flights will be operated by a three class A340-500 aircraft. Each flight will offer 12 Diamond First class, 28 Pearl Business class, and 200 Coral Economy seats.

Etihad, the “fastest growing airline in history,” won World’s Leading Airline, World’s Leading Airline First Class, and World’s Leading Airline to the Middle East at the World Travel Awards earlier this year.

[Flickr via rogerbarker2]