A national newspaper recently revealed that you can now hire in-flight nannies to look after your kids on long-haul journeys.
I'm torn. Part of me whooped inside at the idea someone else would be responsible for the constant snack-providing, the aisle-walking, the answer to 'are we nearly there yet?', all while you're sipping on your pre-holiday G&T from a tin and getting stuck into a good book.
But isn't the flight PART of the holiday? And are you just setting yourself up for a fall? Could you get a bit too used to having the nanny and be utterly gutted when you arrive in your destination airport and nanny disappears into the sunset leaving a slightly sozzled you back in charge of a small human?
Personally I love the flight. We ARE lucky that our daughter enjoys flying. We took her first when she'd not long turned one, to visit family in Malta. Since then we've flown to visit family, flown to visit daddy while he worked away, flown for holidays, flown to our own wedding. And as a result she's used to it. In fact, she seems to see the flight as the best part of the holiday - what kid doesn't like free rein of an iPad and snacks on tap? But let's face it, this isn't the norm and most kids would be forgiven for being daunted at the prospect of a long-haul flight. Add into that a parent flying solo long-haul, all the stuff you need to take with you, and an anti-social flight time, and suddenly the idea of having someone helping you with your bags in the airport, and entertaining the kids on the flight, seems marvellous.
We took our first flight as a family of four in August this year and I couldn't get over the amount of stuff we needed to take with us. How hand luggage was no longer the home of luxurious magazines and last-minute cosmetic purchases from duty free, but stuffed with soft toys, nappies and wipes. We took my mother-in-law and the extra set of hands was undoubtedly priceless. So imagine she wasn't there. Imagine my husband wasn't there. If I'd been flying solo would an in-flight nanny be worth their weight in gold?
Airpair works by matching you up with someone (a 'vetted traveller') already booked on the plane who's willing to help you with your kids. (Alternately, if you're flying without your kids you could sign up to BE a nanny) they sit with you and offer you an extra set of hands. They aren't an official 'child minder' or 'nanny', more someone who sits near you and helps you out when you need it. They charge an hourly rate and can help you out in the airport, during the flight, or both. (And if they aren't helpful Airpair say you can get your money back!)
While I do love getting my eldest excited about and prepared for a flight, and while I do think the flight is an integral part of a holiday. Who WOULDN'T take the opportunity of an extra bit of help when it's needed? I for one have flown alone with my child and have been at the mercy of the kindness of strangers to help me get my luggage in the overhead locker, and struggled with prams / passports in the airport. To have the option of a service where you can pay a few quid to guarantee someone helps with all those things seems like a wonderful idea to me.
What do you reckon?
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Here's some of your thoughts:
Jill Davis Love the name, AirPair and have certainly had times when I'd have loved an extra pair of hands or someone to amuse the kids especially when flying alone. However the concept is strange as they match you with someone on their books who just happens to be on the same flight, pretty random chance then!? I'm sure wealthy families already take a nanny and most of us couldn't justify the cost
Alison Doggrell Strange as this may sound but I had children to look after myself, to spend time with them, make memories with them, and along the way accept that you have to take the rough with the smooth on the rollercoaster of parenthood. I don't want some randomly selected AirPair 'helping me out'. I choose to be a parent, I choose to take the flight with children do its my job as a mother to do deal with the consequences - not to start paying for help everytime the going may get tough!
Written by Amy Clowes
Amy is Seatkickers' editor, she lives in Manchester with her daughters aged six and seven months. She loves interiors, jogging, writing and travelling. Her favourite places include Miami, Biarritz and Cornwall.