With an estimated 7 million passengers set to travel through Heathrow this August, the UK’s largest airport has enlisted ex-undercover police officer and star of Channel 4’s Hunted Danni Brooke to train colleagues on how to spot body language typical of an “Airport Dad.”
Heathrow’s Here to Help team, now the Airport Dad Deactivation team, will deactivate frazzled travellers 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.
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 nearly 300 million views, with methodical mums and hyper-organised friends also being dubbed Airport Dads under the hashtag, which refers to anyone in the holiday party who has taken on most of the responsibility.
Danni Brooke has used her covert expertise to draft an internal memo circulated amongst Heathrow’s volunteer Here to Help team, 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 2000 members of the British public, also surprisingly 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 organisation (41%).
Danni Brooke commented on her undercover assignment with Heathrow: “I’ve spent my career building the skills it takes to identify 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.”
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 travellers before it comes to jetting off.
Tonia Fielding, Director of Services 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 favourite meal or drink or take a valuable moment to rest, so we hope we can help some of these fatigued fathers to relax and enjoy the airport journey, and show them there’s really nothing to stress about!”
The Airport Dad De-activation team will be handing out vouchers to be used at various restaurants and retailers. Airport Dads can enjoy free de-stress facials at Kiehl’s, free food and drink at most restaurants including Gordon Ramsay Plane Food, Carluccio’s, and Wagamama, and complimentary lounge access complete with drinks and snacks. The initiative will be in place across the summer holiday period, ending on 31st August.
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 stressful phenomenon.
Travellers can take advantage of Heathrow’s other initiatives to make travelling easier for families, including the Kids Eat Free offer – available at selected restaurants across terminals; as well as free Heathrow Express tickets for children under 15.