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Moms Talk: Is Nanny In the Clouds A Flight of Fancy?

A new business matches nannies with parents flying with young children. Is the idea brilliant or silly?

If any of you have flown anywhere with kids this summer, you are probably all too familiar with the challenges that come with the experience. From corralling antsy children while trying to check your bags to standing in long security lines to calming temper tantrums while mid-air, you might feel you’ve run a marathon by the time you arrive at your destination.

Kendra, whose husband is in the military, flies several times a year around the country with her two young boys. “As a veteran flyer, I am usually totally prepared with toys, books and bags ready to go,” she said. “But I can’t always be prepared for the tantrum that might come out of nowhere when my over-tired 2-year-old finally melts down. Then it’s all I can do to maintain my sanity while trying to calm him and ignore the angry stares of my fellow passengers. By the time we arrive, sometimes I’m so exhausted I just want to go home.”

Julie Melnick, another mother of a 2-year-old, experienced similar frustration while flying with her child. When she became overwhelmed, she asked the airline for assistance, but they told her it was her responsibility to handle everything. That’s when Julie came up with a brilliant idea: Why not match nannies with families flying with young children to alleviate some of the stress?

Melnick’s idea transformed into Nanny in the Clouds, a business that launched in November, 2011. For a $10 initial fee, parents of young children can browse the website and find a nanny on their same flight. From there, it is up to the parents and nanny to work out the rest of the details, including the pay. The nanny can assist with everything, including curbside check-in and security, as well as entertaining the children before, during and after the flight. The business became an instant success, earning a spot as one of the 100 Brilliant Companies of 2012 by entrepreneur.com.

Some folks have criticized the business, arguing that if a parent can’t handle their own child on a two-hour flight, they shouldn’t fly at all. “What has it come to, that we now have to have nannies when flying?” one critic lashed out. But parents of young children say the business is a dream come true.

“It’s not as if we want to just check out and go sit in first class with a cocktail in our hand,” one mother of three said. “We just want to try to maintain a little sanity by the end of our flight so we can enjoy our destination.”

Though I haven’t flown often with young children, I remember a particularly harrowing flight to Chicago years ago with my newborn daughter. As she began to wail a half-hour into the flight, I became riddled with anxiety and tried not to notice as irritated passengers shot glares my way. With nowhere to escape, I simply made the best of the flight, but I was so frazzled by the time I arrived, I vowed not to fly for the next few years. Had I known about Nanny in the Clouds, I might have had a few less gray hairs by the end of the day.

Parents, would you ever take advantage of a service such as Nanny in the Clouds? Do you think it’s a silly idea or a brilliant one? And do you have a flying-with-kids horror story of your own to share? We’d love to hear from you!

Jennifer Stevens August 23, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Great idea!!! It would be soooo helpful to have extra hands when my husband does not fly with us.
Charles August 23, 2012 at 10:51 PM
It depends on the cost however I'd bet the cost is pretty darn expensive. You'd have to pay for her tickets, her wage, probably her lodging, and then the owner of the company gets his cut. The website reports an hourly wage. OK, let's say it is a four day trip at $10/hour for 8 hours/day that's $320. Add in tickets at maybe $300 RT, now we're at $620. Lodging another $300? Don't forget a $50 or so tip. So, it's going to cost you over $1000 for a few hours of real help. I think I could put up with a screaming kid for three or four hours one way on an airplane ride for that kind of dough. The same people who purchase this service probably pay someone to pick up their dog's poop in the back yard too.
Karen Koczwara August 24, 2012 at 02:38 AM
I believe the way it works is that the site matches up families with nannies who are already going to be on that flight, so they would not be paying for her flight or lodging. They would simply be paying for the service while flying, probably equivalent of babysitting ...maybe 10-15 bucks an hour or so? So it could probably be pretty inexpensive and well worth the sanity it would save lots of moms! I am the biggest cheapskate of all time, but this is one idea that sounds pretty smart to me! :)
Charles August 24, 2012 at 02:59 AM
I think you are correct, I didn't read the entire website before I posted. I could see it working if there were enough matches. But, for some reason, it seems there will be a lot more parents looking for nannies than there will be potential nannies looking for kids to manage - for a measly $15 an hour.
Christie Smith March 24, 2013 at 02:19 AM
Did you do any reading of the article before your response, or do you have someone read it for you? You obviously have never flown with children by yourself, probably never even booked your own ticket, so get some life experience, go back and read the article and quit accusing people of things when you have NO EARTHLY idea what the dilemma is and would be the loudest to complain when there's an unruly child on board..

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