As yet another airline declares its plans for making family travel more comfortable we’re heartened to see that the very specific requirements of families are becoming well and truly acknowledged and acted upon.
UK based Thomson Airways have announced that they will be adding ‘Family booths’ to their new 737 MAX aircraft which whilst not due for delivery until 2018, it is still a transformation in family travel. The great news is that these booths are going to be available on short, mid and long-haul flights, so not just restricted to lengthy hours in the sky. As any parent will tell you an hour with a distressed child can feel like a long haul in itself.
Family booths will feature seating that gathers around a central table and enables families to face each other in a semi-private space; essential for anyone wishing to manage their children’s excitement, boredom, mealtimes and behaviour on a flight. The ‘special look’ that parents do which can mean ‘quiet now’ or ‘please stop doing that this instant’ can now be delivered relatively free from judgement of other passengers and those who silently let their opinion of your parenting skills known.
In fact, it’s often this very point that creates most of the tension- the perception and the reality of the feelings of other passengers is infectious in so much as parents who are worrying about the impact of their children’s behaviour on others often inadvertently trigger tension and undesired behaviours in their children. It’s a vicious circle. A worried parent creates a stressful and fractious child, a stressful and fractious child upsets and tests the patience of other passengers, parents pick up the negative judgement of those passengers and are then less likely to enable their children to relax.
That’s why these family booths are such a great idea as they will hopefully stop this cycle of emotional contagion from happening in the first place, enabling everyone, including the crew to have a much more positive travel experience.
Thomson have also announced that they are making child free sections available from 2015 on certain routes. Again, this should be viewed as a positive thing for families, after all who wants to sit near those badly behaved adults!
Having been involved in supporting Etihad Airlines in Abu Dhabi to attune their offer to families in a more aligned way, any progress in this arena is very much welcomed by the flying public; those with and without children. The praise and positive comments exceeded all expectations and firmly established Etihad as family-friendly. Thomson Airways are surely following the same flight path.