For traveling parents, this is a godsend:
Asiana’s mother-friendly services have been gaining enthusiastic reviews from those who have been through the ordeals of traveling with infants.
Through the recent launch of “Happy Mom Services,” the airline has been providing exclusive check-in counters for mothers at the airport, breastfeeding covers and baby slings free of charge for travelers with babies.
It gets even better:
In response to the enthusiastic reception, Asiana will extend the “Happy Mom Services” to 66 airports internationally. Also, they will lengthen the age limit from 24 months to 36 months old…
….Passengers with infants will also receive a “Priority Tag” on their checked baggage. Arriving passengers with infants will now be able to quickly retrieve their baggage without the hassle of caring for their infant while waiting at baggage claim…
…For larger infants traveling on children tickets, Asiana is providing free installation of baby safety seats upon reservation. Asiana hopes the service will negate the need for passengers to bring along their own baby seats.
And considering the discriminatory hiring practices of its main rival Korean Air, which refuses to hire men for its cabin crew (see #2 here), then it seems somewhat picky, almost churlish to find any fault with Asiana’s initiative.
But still, “Happy Mom Services”?
( Source )
Yes, easy to overlook, unfortunately we are already barraged with signals that encourage and/or reinforce the notion that childcare is primarily women’s responsibility. For instance, wherever you are in the world, note the warning signs the next time you step on an escalator: only very rarely will you see child stick figures being protected by a male or gender-neutral one rather than a female one. Or, closer to home, consider Seoul Mayor Oh Se Hoon’s recent “Happy Women, Happy Seoul” plan involving the provision of such things as more women’s toilets and the now notorious pink parking spaces: as I point out here, providing larger spaces for those with children and pushchairs to unload is all well and good…but not if fathers are not allowed to use them. And I could go on with many similar examples.
Granted, probably none are confined only to Korea. But in the country with:
- the lowest birthrate in the world
- the lowest female workforce participation rate in the OECD
- uniquely, less female university graduates working than female high school graduates
- such inadequate maternity leave provisions that only 0.46% of mothers take it
- and where – surprise, surprise – one-off cash payments for the birth of children are not encouraging women to completely give up their careers…
…then one suspects that greater attention should be paid to the grass-roots origins of those issues, which unfortunately Asiana’s choice of name only adds to.
Having said that, they’ll still easily be my first choice for traveling with my two young daughters from now on. And if it would be effective, I’d consider writing letters to both English and Korean-language newspapers to draw Asiana’s attention to the problem, hopefully persuading them to change the name to “Happy Parents’ Service.” What do you think?
(See here and here for analysis of the issues raised in this post. And it’s not all doom and gloom: in a rare positive step, recently the Korean government announced that it is about to give more support to single mothers!)
(For all posts in the Korean Sociological Images Series, see here)