x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Children help with fear of flying

I'm a bit of a nervous flyer, but I'm determined the children don't find out about my fear. In fact, I find the kids can be a comfort to me.

I know it's daft, but I'm a nervous flyer. I'm fine on boats, coaches and cars, but anything with wings makes me a bit wobbly. I do realise flying is a very safe form of transport. But I just can't help it. What I can help, however, is letting the kids know. I'm determined they get no sniff of my terror. I want them to enjoy flying. That makes me unbearably jolly every time we board a plane, hoping my bouncy smiles will disguise my discomfort. But I also find the kids a comfort to me. Their evident pleasure at embarking on a new adventure puts me at ease.

But now I have a real reason to be cheerful as I strap myself in. This month, Thomson holidays has introduced a new safety film on its short and mid-haul routes, featuring young children as the cabin crew. Alice, aged about five and with one sock pulled up and the other slouched down, shows us how to stow our hand luggage in the overhead locker, put on our oxygen masks and inflate our life jackets. It's very cute. But more importantly, people watch it. Research shows more than half of passengers no longer bother to pay attention to the inflight safety video.

But with Alice and her friends presenting it, people take notice. Feeling, rather than being, safe is what it's all about for nervous flyers like me. You can also see the video on YouTube. Although I do feel a little ridiculous getting shivers on the way through security, I no longer feel a fool for having left my laptop there recently at Luton Airport, when I was too caught up ensuring that the kids had picked up their mini rucksacks and put their shoes back on. A new study commissioned by Dell has revealed that more than 12,000 people every week lose their laptops at US airports alone. Even when it comes to losing the kids, a new gadget claims to go one step further towards ensuring they stay close. NuM8 is a GPS locator device for 3 to 12-year-olds, concealed inside a child's digital watch. You can programme it to set a "safe zone" around the hotel, including avoiding swimming pools.

To find your child, you just tap "wru" into your mobile phone, and their location is shown on a Google map. But somehow, I don't think my kids will be wandering off for a while. I'll find them huddled around my laptop, watching Thomson's flight safety video. Do you have family travel tips that you'd like to share? E-mail Dea at dbirkett@thenational.ae