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Richard Branson's Idea for Family Travel is Pretty Polarizing

July 24, 2014 at 11:32 AM | by | ()

In an interview with our big bro, Conde Nast Traveler, Sir Richard Branson was asked if there were any new ideas he'd been kicking around for his airlines. His response, on the surface, was seemingly directed at improving family travel:

"I would love to introduce [a] kids' class," Branson said. "It would be a separate cabin for kids with nannies to look after them. We’ve had an issue with the Civil Aviation Authority. They worry in an emergency kids would be running in one direction and their parents would be running in the other. So we haven’t got it through yet."

To be honest, this travel writer was a little surprised to read that. That's his new big idea to improve family travel? To put all the kids in one section, separate from their parents, with nannies? In other words, he wants to introduce an in-flight babysitting service?

The logistical aspects of boarding, legality, emergencies, authority, and the reality of controlling the behavior of a dozen or more kids sitting next to one another are a few examples of why this endeavor would be an absolute nightmare for any airline. But forget the fine print for a second; there's an even deeper sadness to the idea in the fact that it would separate parents from their children during a trip.

Flying at a young age is such an impactful experience, one which stays with you for the rest of your life. Could you imagine if your parents had shipped you off to the babysitter onboard so they could chill at the Upper Class bar? There's no magic in that, and there's certainly no aspect of togetherness when it comes to family travel. In my opinion, losing that would be the worst part, and who knows what effect it could have on how kids—aka future customers—view flying. Every parent needs a day off once in a while, but maybe it shouldn't come at 35,000 feet.

Ideally, it'd be nice to see ideas for family travel that actually support family travel. A segregated cabin, however, encourages the exact opposite.

[Photo: Virgin]

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