Recalling memories of not too long ago, journeys for most children began with comic books – be it at a bustling railway platform where the din of the public merged with noises from the train’s engine – or the sterile hum of an airport terminal punctuated by flight announcements.

Somewhere along the way, however, technology caught up and the ubiquitous Tinkle Digest or Archie’s Comics, among many others, were slowly replaced by smartphones, laptops and tablets. So much so that some airlines don’t even have a conventional in-flight magazine anymore.

Which is why Vistara’s introduction of a comic book for children on its flights came as a pleasant surprise. The Tata-Singapore Airlines-operated carrier began giving out Airborne at its check-in counters to young fliers beginning last month. The 16-page comic tells the story of a family heading to Goa for a vacation, and the peg is the children learning the various aspects and guidelines associated with air travel. The story and design were done by Fulki Communications, a branding and communications company.

“Airplanes fascinate almost every child in the world, but questions around air travel continue to tickle our brains even as an adult,” said Rashmi Soni, Vice-President and Head of Corporate Communications, Vistara, adding: “As India is maturing as an air-travel market, we felt a sense of responsibility to educate and sensitise future corporate travellers and frequent flyers so that they grow up to become more considerate flyers.”

With air travel becoming affordable and more families taking to the skies, children are introduced to air travel fairly early. Many a time we come across a fascinated child wanting to swap a window seat or asking questions as to why laptops and mobiles should be switched off during take-off. This comic answers such questions and weaves them into the story that it tells.

“We wanted to catch their imagination at the right time and fuel their fascination for air travel by getting them acquainted with its many aspects. That’s how the idea came about,” explains Soni. Some useful tips such as what to do when your ears pop during a flight due to atmospheric pressure [suck on a sweet] are part of the comic, too. Apart from being distributed to young flyers, the comic was also given to children from the Salam Baalak Trust, an NGO that takes the responsibility of homeless and orphaned children. Vistara is a partner with the NGO and the airline flew a few children from Salam Baalak on its maiden flight.

The airline also has plans to scale up the comic book initiative and is collecting feedback on what needs to be implemented next. “The initial response has been quite encouraging. Our young travellers and their parents are highly appreciative of this initiative,” said Soni.