Five ways to avoid screaming children onboard

9 Oct 2013

Babies on board: it's an emotional topic that never fails to stir up spirited debate. Here are five airlines with products that may help the issue - sometimes with controversy, other times unintentionally. 

Hello Kitty EVA AirAirline: EVA Air

Service: Get your Hello Kitty passport at the boarding gate and have it stamped before embarking the Hello Kitty-branded A330s and 777s carrying feline-themed toilet paper, soap, lotion, headrest covers, pillows, sick bags (pictured), cups, crockery, napkin holders, meal containers, playing cards and more – even some of the courgette slices and buns in the meals have the catty mascot’s face charred into them. Cabin crew wear Hello Kitty aprons and there is a safety instruction video featuring the four-legged superstar and her family, and we haven't even talked about the cabin decor.

Availability: Taipei to LA, Tokyo (Narita and Haneda airports), Sapporo, Fukuoka, Seoul, Guam, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Theory: The child can't help but be captivated and entranced by the omnipresent cartoon character.

Risk: All the catty whimsy might be too much for adult passengers. For the parents, the problem might be having to explain to their children why this cat does not have a mouth.

Success rate: 5/10

Airline: Malaysia Airlines MAS A380 top

Service: A baby-free upper deck – in March last year the carrier announced that children under 12 will not be permitted to fly on the A380's top level economy class cabin consisting of 70 seats (see here), and the first class seats installed on the aircraft in 2011 do not accommodate bassinets (see here).

Availability: All routes operated by the carrier’s A380s.

Theory: No babies – no noise.

Risk: Of crying babies, none. Of snoring or noisy adults, moderate.

Rating: 8/10

Etihad flying nanniesAirline: Etihad

Service: You may have already spotted them out by the bright orange aprons: 300 crew members have been transformed into "flying nannies” after going through training at Britain's Norland College for the carrier’s in-flight childcare assistance programme. Etihad intends to have a total of 500 staff members trained in this child psychology and sociology-focussed course by the end of this year.

Availability: All long-haul flights.

Theory: The flying nannies are knowledgeable in children's behaviour and developmental stages, and are able to address the situation when little ones act up. Other times, they might take preventive measures, in the form of arts and crafts and magic tricks, among other things.

Risk: The child gets too fixated on the flying nanny, and cries immediately when she walks away.

Success rate: 7/10

Airline: Bangkok Airways 

Bangkok Airways kids toys

Service: Giving out an airplane soft toy and puzzles to children pre-take off, as part of the carrier's initiative to "attract a younger target base" (see here). 

Availability: All flights.

Theory: The child becomes engrossed in piecing together the puzzle or falls asleep cuddling the plush toy. 

Risk: Once the puzzle is done, what's next?

Rating: 3/10

Scoot silent cabin Airline: Scoot

Service: The “ScootinSilence” zone – costing just S$18 (US$14) more than the regular economy fare, passengers can sit in the yellow rows 21 to 25 only available to passengers over the age of 12. 

Availability: All flights.

Theory: That the absence of under-12s in these rows "creates a relaxing environment" with "peace and quiet".

Risk: If you have ever heard how babies cry, you know those thin curtains won't do the trick.

Rating: 1/10

Thumbnail image: Stuart Richards

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