Frequent fliers are usually business travellers living out of a suitcase. Prateek Dak, however, who has taken 200 flights, has neither attended a business meeting in his life nor has he ever used the airport wi-fi to fine-tune a Powerpoint presentation. The reason - Prateek is just six-years-old.
Prateek is among a small, but growing number of fliers, who take their first flights even before joining a primary school. Young fliers have increased at a rate of 21% year-on-year, as per industry estimates.
"He was six-months-old when he took his first long-haul flight of nine hours," said his father Piyush, a businessman based in Hyderabad. Jet Airways recently awarded Prateek a JetPrivilege membership for the silver tier, making him possibly the youngest to join one of the top three membership tiers.
"We have seen a tremendous rise in kids travelling with families and the destinations are mostly chosen on the preference of the children," said Sharat Dhall, president Yatra.com.
A Jet Airways spokesperson said that approximately 300 unaccompanied minors travel with the airline every month, creating a double-digit growth in the segment. Airlines charge a small fee to take care of minors travelling by themselves.
No-frills carrier Spicejet altered its on-board greeting to accommodate young fliers. The post-boarding announcement that was addressed to only "ladies and gentlemen", now also welcomes young travellers. Even Indigo Airlines has witnessed a 10% increase in unaccompanied minors, particularly during the holiday season.