London Heathrow, the UK’s hub airport, has announced plans to become the world’s first ‘imaginary friend friendly’ airport as part of its efforts to inspire youngsters and families travelling through the airport.
The move by Heathrow to extend its passenger service to imaginary friends follows new research that invisible playmates are becoming increasingly popular among young passengers. The research found an estimated 2.1 million children, or 35 per cent, in Britain have imaginary friends presently, while 68 per cent of these youngsters will take their make-believe friends with them on family holidays. Besides, over half of children – 56 percent – wish that other people would acknowledge and speak to their invisible friends.
Normand Boivin, Chief Operating Officer at Heathrow, commented: ‘We’re dedicated to continuously training our staff and investing in skills so that they can always provide the best passenger service. This is a commitment that has seen passengers recognise Heathrow as Western Europe’s best airport. However, we don’t want to rest on our laurels. We always want to encourage our staff to go further, to be creative and think of the unexpected things that could surprise and delight passengers.
‘During the summer holidays, when millions of families fly away on their holidays, it’s the little things that can help make an airport journey more fun and relaxing for both parents and children. Whether that’s free restaurant meals for kids in Heathrow’s restaurants or simply acknowledging that a child has an imaginary friend who they believe is as real as you or me – at Heathrow we have an ambition to become the friendliest family airport and to give all our passengers the best airport service in the world.’
As part of the plan to delight youngsters with imaginary friends, Heathrow has launched a staff- video guided by Chris O’Dowd, Hollywood actor and imaginary friend expert. The six-minute video – featuring the stars of Bridesmaids, IT Crowd and imaginary friend comedy Moone Boy – instructs Heathrow staff on the best ways to interact with youngsters who bring their invisible friends to the airport. The video also focuses on the various family services run by Heathrow each summer, now including imaginary friends.
With over 500,000 passengers expected to travel through Heathrow over the next four days, many parents are set to fly out of the airport with their children, Heathrow said. Friday, July 24, is expected to be the busiest day ever with 129,647 departing passengers flying out of the airport, it added.