Are we Nearly There Yet? Under 12s Bored 49 Minutes into Their Long-Haul Flight

Bangalore, 25 October 2017: Young flyers will take just 49 minutes and 47 seconds to ask the dreaded, ‘’are we nearly there yet?’’ so with parents battling the boredom threshold, Emirates has teamed up with Dr Sandi Mann, a psychologist and boredom specialist at the University of Central Lancashire to find a solution. Dr Mann has worked with the airline to create the Child Boredom Quotient (CBQ), helping parents identify the exact moment their kids will get bored so they can enjoy stress-free travel. The study of more than 2,000 UK parents of under 12s alongside observations of children during their playtime helped Dr Sandi Mann categorise activities into Active (A), Passive (P), Interactive (I), Creative (C) or Sensory (S) to formulate the CBQ, and ultimately help parents mix the perfect blend of activities to catch boredom before it sets in.

The findings whichalso saw two thirds of parents (64%) worry about entertaining their childrenand 43% expressing concern about their children disturbing other passengers,found little travellers aged 3 – 4 to be the most volatile. Bribery techniquessuch as giving out snacks (41%) in exchange for good behaviour were often usedjust to keep the peace. Other tried and tested methods of distraction forparents include employing electronic devices (33%) even if they’re not allowedat home, handing out new toys (27%) to keep their tots happy or trying to tireout their children by running around the airport before boarding (16%).


Dr Sandi Mann, psychologist and boredom specialist, University of CentralLancashire comments: “Parents of children aged 3-4 will start tofind that this is when their children are physically very active, gainingindependence and when they need more sophisticated things to entertain themthan they did when they were younger. For instance, the ‘electronic babysitter’whilst popular for a flight may not work for all age groups and parents ofyounger children will find that they have less attention span for this thanolder ones. Breaking up this passive activity for active or creative ones willstop children becoming bored, restless and disruptive.’’ However, it’snot just bribery that parents resort to when travelling with their children ona plane. An honest 7% revealed that they simply try to relax with an eye maskto block out the disturbance.


When engaging in anactivity on board, films are the most popular for keeping children occupiedfrom around 40 minutes for the youngest age group (0-2) to 1 hour 45 minutesfor the oldest (11-12). This is followed by games either on a smart device oron the inflight entertainment system (keeping kids occupied from 30 minutes forthe youngest to 1.5 hours for the oldest). Meanwhile, creative pursuits such asdrawing was the most popular until age 9 when quizzes and puzzles become moreengaging. Colouring and sticker books have most appeal to the younger ages. Dr Sandi Mann further comments: ‘’Very young children don’t need verysophisticated toys for a plane journey and will be most amused by things in theenvironment – including people and of course their parents. For example, thiscould be ‘I Spy’ whilst, regular walks up the aisle are good for toddlers forexercise and for pre-toddles to change the visual environment. Don’t forgetsinging and interactive games like peekaboo are also great.


Older children can be given simple materials like notebooks and pens,puzzle books and comics. Ensure that they take breaks every so often to walk upand down the plane and try to restrict the passive viewing just like you mightat home. Don’t be afraid of them being bored as left to their own devices witha few basic materials, they will find creative ways to engage their brains.’’ Jade Cobbs, Emirates CabinSupervisor, comments: “We understand that parents often dread theidea of travelling on a long-haul flight with bored children. 

However, parents need not wait until the boredom alarm sets off.Whether it’s utilising the Cabin Crew to provide your kids with activity packsto watching the family friendly TV shows and movies on Emirates’ iceentertainment system, families can avoid the boredom threshold via somepre-prepared activities, interactive games or inflight entertainment.’’  Dr Sandi Mann has created a suggested guide for how tostructure a plane journey for each age range. The activities are categorised asActive (A), Passive (P), Interactive (I), Creative (C) or Sensory (S) and theidea is that by mixing these up and stopping an activity at the right time,boredom and restlessness will be minimised. 

Passive – watching films,listening to music

Active – walking up and downthe aisle, playing with a pack of cards

Creative – drawing, colouringbooks

Sensory – refreshments

Interactive – reading astorybook, chatting 

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