London Heathrow Airport has enlisted Danni Brooke, ex-undercover police officer and star of Channel 4’s Hunted, to train colleagues on how to spot the body language typical of an ‘airport dad’.
Heathrow’s here to help team – now the airport dad deactivation team – will de-stress frazzled travelers with vouchers for free food, drinks, de-stress facials at Kiehl’s and premium lounge access to calm them down and get them in the holiday mood. The initiative will be in place across the summer holiday period, ending on August 31, 2023. Heathrow is also encouraging kids to take clandestine footage of their airport dads in action under the hashtags #heathrow #airportdad in an effort to raise awareness of the phenomenon.
According to new research commissioned by Heathrow, Brits believe keeping hold of the family’s passports (35%), constantly checking the time (34%) and taking charge of getting everyone to the airport (33%) are the top traits of the airport dad, a label which went viral after the trend for filming frazzled fathers took over TikTok. Videos under the hashtag #airportdad have collectively garnered over 280 million views, with methodical mums and hyper-organized friends also being dubbed airport dads, which refers to whoever in the holiday party has taken on most of the responsibility.
Danni Brooke has used her expertise in covert work to draft an internal memo circulated amongst Heathrow’s here to help team of volunteers, training them to spot the key signs of an airport dad before holiday tension ensues. The memo has also informed new signage posted throughout Heathrow’s terminals, warning the public to be on high alert for potential airport dads.
The research, which surveyed 2,000 members of the British public, found that over a third of Brits (33%) see themselves as the person most likely to turn into an airport dad, with the top reasons being because it gives them peace of mind (39%) and they feel stressed when not in control of holiday organization (41%). The data showed that the majority of airport dads can start feeling stressed up to and over a week before their trip, so it is hoped the new initiative will help to calm down travelers before it comes to jetting off.
Brooke commented, “I’ve spent my career building the skills it takes to analyze a person through their body language and act on the situation before it escalates. While airport dads may not be doing anything criminal, it can certainly feel that way to families who are just looking to relax and enjoy a much-needed break. Now, the Heathrow team have all the skills they need to spot these airport dads before they share their stress with their whole party, ensuring their holidays start from the moment they step into the airport.”
Becky Denness, head of customer engagement at Heathrow, explained, “At Heathrow, our priority is making the travel experience as seamless and enjoyable as possible. Our research showed the majority of ‘airport dads’ would feel more relaxed if they could enjoy their favorite meal or drink or take a valuable moment to rest, so we hope we can help some of these passengers to relax and enjoy the airport journey and show them there’s really nothing to stress about!”
Read more of the latest passenger experience updates from the passenger terminal industry here.