APEX Insight: Catering to the needs of children on board is a winning strategy for airlines – an opportunity to show their soft side and foster future loyal customers. With its capacity for interactive content, in-flight entertainment opens up limitless possibilities to keep junior flyers laughing and learning.
This May, Speakaboos, an educational technology company that promotes learning through interactive media, partnered with Delta Air Lines to introduce interactive story time to the junior passenger experience. Speakaboos produces animated stories, which work as apps, to help strengthen children’s literacy skills through animation and word highlighting. Story collections are organized according to children’s favorite characters and cover topics like travel, princesses, dinosaurs, classics, favorite songs and a special bundle entitled “Sid the Science Kid.” Titles available to kids on Delta Studio will rotate throughout the year, so that young frequent flyers always find something fresh to explore.
With the launch of its WestJet Connect in-flight Wi-Fi service, WestJet introduced Kidoodle.TV, which kids can watch in flight on their personal electronic devices. It streams popular children’s entertainment from around the world, including classics like Madeline and Paddington Bear, as well as special educational programming focused on skills building, arts and culture.
“More than four million children travel with the airline each year, placing young travelers amongst Emirates’ most important customers.” – Hendrik Du Preez, Emirates
Emirates offers a large catalogue of children’s activities and services through its ICE IFE catalogue. The airline recently promoted its special focus on junior flyers by arranging a Kids Movie Weekend in Accra, Ghana, which featured a special screening of Angry Birds. “More than four million children travel with the airline each year, placing young travelers amongst Emirates’ most important customers,” said Hendrik Du Preez, country manager of Emirates Ghana, of the event. “We know how challenging it can be for parents to keep their children occupied and happy on flights, so we have ensured that every aspect of the travel experience is catered for.”
Air Malta recently went beyond IFE to deliver live interactive entertainment on board select flights to Disneyland, Paris. Its SKY KIDS in-flight experience includes live performances, art activities and games coordinated by professional child-minders. El Al Israel Airlines has introduced the ELALCHIK travel package for children, which also includes interactive entertainment such as drawing and face painting activities. Some junior passengers are designated “DAYALCHICKS,” official flight crew helpers, who receive special aprons and distribute coloring materials to other children on board, hand out passenger forms to parents and collect headphones. “ELALCHIK flights give children a feeling of adventure and excitement for travel, while allowing parents the joy of seeing their children entertained and inspired,” said Danny Saadon, vice-president and general manager, EL AL Israel Airlines, North and Central America.
“ELALCHIK flights give children a feeling of adventure and excitement for travel, while allowing parents the joy of seeing their children entertained and inspired.” — Danny Saadon, EL AL Israel Airlines
Airlines are also contributing to ongoing education through special community initiatives that inspire a love of books in children who might not have access to them. American Airlines has recently partnered with Scholastic Books to help fund a schoolbook fair for underprivileged kids in Charlotte, North Carolina. American gave 50 children $25 each to spend on books at the fair, and Scholastic Books offered a two-for-one sale, allowing children to double the titles they took home. Meanwhile, JetBlue launched Soar with Reading in 2011, a program that has helped deliver over $1,750,000 worth of books to kids in need. The airline and its partners have also set up book vending machines for children in low-income communities and recently introduced an SMS service that notifies parents when new titles are available.