After frequently traveling with my son for the past year and a half, I am always looking for a calm and easy place to change him, feed him, and for him to let some energy out in the airport. If you are like me, you need to take a breather and regroup when flying with children. Family Lounges and Services Areas are comfortable areas to do this, however most US airport terminals don’t have them.
Airport Terminal Family Lounges
Outside the US, the trend is growing. For instance, Zurich and Copenhagen airports include family lounges and are perfect examples of providing facilities for passengers with babies.
The amenities at the Zurich Airport include: "Rooms for sleeping and breastfeeding, baby changing-stations, baby care products, and a kitchenette with a microwave, cutlery, and utensils.”
It also includes a play area with toys for all ages and a craft workshop. It is free for all passengers.
When I recently traveled solo with my son, we had a two-hour layover with no safe place for him to crawl around and no easy way for me to change his diaper. He was sick, and I was changing his diaper about every 15 minutes during our 2 hour layover in Las Vegas. The bathrooms in the terminal were crowded and the changing station was next to the hand dryers. There was no clean place to put my bag down. It was a juggling act. I ended up changing him in his stroller the rest of the time, which wasn’t ideal.
In Los Angeles, LAX is currently undergoing renovations and I hope the improvements will include a better nursing area for women traveling with small children. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the little bench they provided next to the bathroom stalls that everyone passes by in order to get to the toilets. When they said "Nursing Mothers' Room", I guess the room they were referring to was the bathroom.
Airport Terminal Play Areas
Many airports have Children’s Play Areas. This is a big help to pass time and keep your children happy before getting on your flight. Look at the airport terminal map to find where they are located compared to your departure gate. If you have time, it’s worth it to look up this information before you fly so you know whether or not to anticipate a place for your children to play. If they don’t, you may want to set up your own play area by an empty gate with some toys to play with.
The Buffalo International Airport terminal has a children’s play area. This was perfect for my son to have an area to play. It’s supported and provided by local business, Fisher Price. It had about 4 toys bolted to the floor. Sadly one of the electronic ones didn’t work.
If there are ways to reduce the stress of traveling with small children, it should be a priority for airports and airlines. It will not only adding family lounges make the family's trip easier but also be more pleasant for other travelers as well. Children will be happier after getting some energy out prior to the flight as opposed to running up and down the aisles mid-flight.
If you aren’t already part of a Frequent Flyer program with a flyer status that lets you in to the airport lounges, consider paying for a day pass if you have a long layover. It’s clean, quieter, and gives you all the opportunity to refuel and take it easy before getting on your next flight.
I call on US domestic airport terminals to follow the international trend and make family services a priority.
What airport terminals would you give the thumbs up to for traveling with children?
FreshCruiser Tip: Research the airports ahead of time so you know what to expect, sometimes the terminal can surprise you.