Kids need to run around. It's a scientifically proven fact. And that's part of what makes flying with kids a trying experience for parents.
Recently, I wrote about my experience flying with my 2-year-old daughter on JetBlue and United Airlines. Short version: JetBlue was a slightly better experience, but with a little planning and patience, both airlines were tolerable, at least for a five-hour flight.
But now, Australia's biggest airline is floating a truly radical idea that would really change everything about flying with kids. By solving that issue about how kids need to have space to move, it would put other airlines' kid flying experiences to shame.
The funny thing is that while the airline, Qantas, got a lot of buzz here in the U.S. for some of the things it's proposed lately, this kid-friendly proposal (to be clear, it's just an idea for now) sort of flew under the radar.
That's because in describing the idea, the Australian airline used an Australian word that doesn't mean the same thing in American English.
To understand, we need to remember that Qantas flies some of the longest routes in the world, and hopes to add even longer routes, like direct flights from Canberra to New York and London that could take 22 hours or more.
Their plan is called Project Sunrise, and it largely involves using parts of the cargo hold for things other than holding cargo: building an onboard exercise room, or an airborne pub, or even curtained-off lay-flat bunks, so that passengers could get out of their economy class seats and catch a bit of sleep.
But in a recent survey to 12,000 frequent fliers asking what features they'd most like to see in this kind of setup, the airline included a question about whether they'd like to see "an on-board crèche."
I'm sorry, most Americans said when we saw this: a crèche? As in, the Christian religious display that we see in homes and public places around Christmas? Doesn't that seem a bit seasonal and religious for an airline?
A quick Google search later, of course, we see that the same word, crèche, is used in British and Australian English to refer to "a nursery where babies and young children are cared for during the working day."
Okay, that makes a lot more sense--on many levels.
"It's still early days and the final cabins may feature some or none of the ideas we're asking for feedback on, but we want to have the conversation with our customers to help inform our planning," said Phil Capps, the airline's head of customer strategy and product development. "What sounds unconventional today may well become tomorrow's new norm."
I'm not a Qantas frequent flier. In fact, I've never flown the airline. Actually, I've never been to Australia.
But I'm a parent, and this is an idea that I would love to see catch on, no matter what airlines pick it up and make it work.
Kids need to play and move around. Finding a way so they can do so on airplanes would improve the experience not only for parents and kids, but for everyone else on the plane as well.
So, take it from this parent. You can call it a nursery or a playspace or whatever you want, but I'm all in. Let's start a campaign: "Vote yes on the crèche."