I had another great flight with Etihad Airways on our long journey home a couple of weeks ago from South Africa to Chicago, which included a short layover in Etihad’s hub, Abu Dhabi Airport. I was traveling solo with a 17 month old, and it was actually pleasant. One of the reasons I love flying Etihad so much is how family-oriented their airline and services seem to consistently be.
As I have flown through Abu Dhabi Airport several times before I already knew they provide MacLaren strollers free of charge to use within the airport, available at various locations throughout the airport. They even let you push the child through security in the strollers. They also provide metal push carts with a seating area for a small child (like a grocery cart) and enough space to toss your carry-ons in the baskets provided, making it much easier to leisurely make your way through the airport to your connecting flight.
I also was happy to discover on my last trip the children’s play room in their guest lounges where Veda loves to play. However, that requires access to lounges, which not everyone has. That is why I was delighted to stumble upon the Abu Dhabi Airport free children’s play area located in Terminal 3 adjacent to Gate 32. It’s a big enough area where kids can run around on a padded floor, and is equipped with numerous plastic cars, scooters, plastic slides, and plastic play houses. It’s such a simple and thoughtful addition to the airport for kids on long flights that need to run around and unwind!
Veda loved zooming around in the car and playing peekaboo from the windows of the houses with other kids playing in the area. It was just a few gates away from ours, so I basically let her play and run around until they announces we were boarding. It was a packed flight and by the time we arrived there was a long line to board, but because I had a small child the Etihad workers ushered me to the front.
Once on the plane friendly and helpful flight attendants helped me to my seat (in the bulkhead with a bassinet per my request a week earlier) and helped me put my bags up. One flight attendant actually offered to hold my baby while I adjusted my things! Although I declined the offer, a woman traveling solo with a toddler and a baby did take up the same offer. The flight attendant held her baby, cooing at her, while the woman sorted her belongings. I have never seen that type of service on any other airline by typically crusty flight attendants.
Why can’t every airline and airport be so thoughtful? Seriously, world of airlines- providing my baby and toddler with outlets to expend energy and accommodating families will make the flight better for every passenger.