Troubled with that crying child sitting next to you on your long flight?
Agonised by the parents’ oblivion to the screams? The cabin crew’s lack of reaction is probably only adding injury to insult.
It is not only you. Many travellers share similar experiences.
This is why businesses are studying measures that will satisfy those crying children and the people who have to listen to them.
Emirates airline recently commissioned a scientific study in an attempt to help passengers know what to do when they travel with children.
Recommendations range between engaging children with electronic activities and walking them up and down the aisles.
“Based on the study, we offer tips for passengers (with children), so the little ones wouldn’t trouble them so much and leave them and other passengers to have a good flight,” an Emirates spokesperson told Gulf News.
The study came as a part of a continuous effort by the company, which is investing millions of dirhams to upgrade its services and products for all passengers, including children, the spokesperson said.
Emirates, one of the world's biggest commercial aviation companies, is “continuously” updating its meals and entertainment programmes for children, it says.
For example, the number of channels on ICE, the entertainment programme on Emirates, has increased from 2,500 channels to 3,000 channels, and children have “a considerable chunk” of the content volume, said the spokesperson.
Other airlines are also developing their special services for kids or families with little children on their flights, with the aim of keeping them entertained and occupied.
Etihad Airlines has introduced an “on board nanny” on flight and on all classes, not just the premium classes.
British Airways is among the companies with a good record in “ensuring children are looked after on board”, aviation experts said.
Saj Ahmad, a chief analyst at the StrategicAero Research, a London-based consultancy, said families travelling with children constitute an important segment to companies.
This explains the compilation of Emirates’ study, which is expected to give the airline a comparative advantage, he told Gulf News.
“Emirates conducts various reports and studies, such as environmental and other air transport related topics … so this feature doesn’t come as a surprise,” he commented on the study.
“In fact, it is one of only a handful of airlines actually dedicating a serious effort into widespread research into aviation matters. And focusing on child travel is core to Emirates’ business since many families fly with the airline every day and make up a sizeable portion of Emirates’ global customer base.
"Not only will this give Emirates great feedback on what families and children want on flights and at airports, it makes the airline more adept to catering for these needs ahead of the competition.”
BY THE NUMBERS
According to Emirates’ figures, nearly 10 per cent of 59 million passengers on Emirates in 2017 were children.
“Families with children of all ages that fly with Emirates are key to its business. That Emirates works hard to understand their needs and then provide for them … the airline knows that price-sensitive passengers will simply fly with rivals if they do not take seriously the demands and needs for families with young travellers,” said Ahmad.
Families are just like “premium passengers expect a high level of service,” he said.
“Even though they may be on a budget or are keen to be thrifty with their expenditure, it is all about value creation. Value for money for the passenger and value for investment by Emirates. This is why Emirates wants to ensure that as a child-friendly airline, it can stay ahead of the curve so that families fly with them and not the competition.”
Dr Sandi Mann, a psychologist and boredom specialist at the University of Central Lancashire in UK, said the study recommends a list of tips according to the age of each child.
Overall, children of all ages are encouraged to sleep after electronic activities, as it was noticed that children aged between 0 and 12 months sleep for around 80 minutes on a plane.
The study was based on nearly 2,000 UK parents of children under 12 years old — along with observations of children during their playtime.
According to the findings, nearly 64 per cent of parents worry about entertaining their children, and 43 per cent expressed concern about their children disturbing other passengers. The most “volatile” children are those aged 3-4 years old, said a press statement by Emirates.
The study concluded that it would take children nearly 49 minutes and 47 seconds to ask “are we nearly there yet?”
“Bribery techniques” to children in exchange for good behaviour include snacks, playing with electronic devices and games, handing new toys, or even trying to tire out the children by running around the airport before boarding.
During the flight, it was concluded that “films are the most popular in keeping children occupied for a period of time ranging between 40 minutes and 1 hour and 45 minutes.
Emirates top tips for travelling with children
All ages of children:
— Encouraging to sleep
— Use in-flight entertainment systems
Young children ages 0-6 years old
— Allow them to explore objects and things in the environment, such as walking them up and down the aisles.
Older children ages 7-12
— Encourage them to listen to music
— Talk to them
The largest airline in the Middle East, and the largest airline in terms of international passenger kilometers flown, Emirates operates over 3,600 flights per week from its hub at Dubai International Airport, to more than 140 cities in 81 countries across six continents.
As of November 2017, Emirates is the largest Airbus A380 operator with 100 planes in service and a further 42 in orders.
Since their introduction, the Airbus A380 has become an integral part of Emirates fleet, especially on long-haul high-traffic routes. Emirates is also the world's largest Boeing 777 operator with over 130 planes in service.