This traveling mom has discovered that major airports make the getting there as much fun as the being there. Here's what's on offer.
Imagine this scenario: you’ve been traveling for 14 hours. You’ve already made one transfer and you’ve just found out your next flight has been delayed. This common airport encounter is bad enough if you are traveling solo; but what if you’re traveling with small children? A potential nightmare awaits.
Just in time for the family vacation, here is a list of Europe’s family-friendly airport facilities. While my research is current as of 2007, the names of restaurants and prices may change with time. However, a family-welcoming attitude, once set, is likely to make these airports your favorite for many years to come.
European Hub Cities & Airports
Amsterdam – Schiphol – One of Europe’s busiest hubs and a Mecca for low-fare carriers is well suited to traveling families, with extensive facilities.
- Play areas with slides and carts, Nintendo, Lego, and televisions showing cartoons. Located between Piers E and F. Open daily, 06:00-22:00.
- A fully equipped baby room, located between Piers E and F. Towels, wipes and cradles are available. Open daily, 06:00-22:00.
- Touch Down, a family restaurant with a self-service buffet, a children’s play area and a view of runways. Located above Departure Hall 1 on the 3rd floor. Open daily, 07:00-21:00.
- Public showers, located in Hotel Mercure on the first floor of Lounge 3. Open 24 hours a day, showers cost €12.50 and include towels, soap and shampoo.
Barcelona, National Airports of Spain – When transferring in Barcelona, there are several options to make your stay more enjoyable.
- Two children’s play areas, one located on the first floor of Terminal A and one located on the first floor of Terminal B.
- Buffet Catalunya, a self-service buffet, perfect for finding small portions appropriate for children. The restaurant is located in the public area of the Terminal B arrivals zone.
- Cafeteria Europa, in the new shopping area on the first floor of Terminal B, which offers a side variety of foods, served cafeteria style for fast service.
- A pharmacy is located in Terminal B.
Berlin Airports – At all three Berlin Airports, SchÃ¶nefeld, Tegel, and Tempelhof, there are:
- Nursing areas and mothers rooms located throughout the airport.
- MÃ¶venpick restaurants, which offer healthy food choices and can prepare small portions for children.
Brussels Airport – Families waiting for flights in the European Union capital of Brussels will find:
- Milestone Food Court on the fourth level of the airport, offering a salad bar, healthy breakfast options such as yoghurt and fresh fruit and simple foods such as soup with self-service to feed hungry children quickly.
- Many of the toilet facilities located throughout the airport offer nappy or diaper-changing stations.
London – Heathrow – Many tourists will find themselves with some time to kill at London’s Heathrow airport. If you are among them, here is what you can expect to find:
- A soft play area suitable for children ages 2-6 can be found after security in Terminal 1, Gates 35-36, near CafÃ© Nero. Fingabox interactive educational game consoles, aimed at preschool children, are also available.
- The Holideck Lounge’s family area includes fantastic views of the runway, complimentary refreshments, magazines, as well as interactive toys and games. Pre-booking is recommended at their site. Open daily, 5:30-22:30, fee charged.
- Garfunkel’s restaurant, in Terminal 4, offers a full children’s menu, with a complimentary activity pack.
- Giraffe’s, a family restaurant located in Terminal 1, has a children’s meal deal available M-F from 12:00-15:00.
- Boots, the British pharmacy chain, sells diapers, formula and baby wipes. Outlets located throughout the airport.
- BAA information desks offer a coloring pack, including crayons and a coloring book, free of charge.
Paris – Charles de Gaulle – At the second busiest airport in terms of transports in Europe, here’s what you can expect to find:
- A place space featuring blocks and toys for younger children as well as electronic games beyond customs in Terminals 2A, 2E, 2F and 3, conveniently located near waiting areas and restaurants.
- A video game hall in Terminal 3.
- Between 2 July and 27 August, every weekend you will find story tellers and costumed characters, clowns and magicians wandering through the terminals.
- Family restrooms and nursing areas can be found in every terminal.
- Coccimarket in Terminal 2 and Relay Superette in Terminal 1 carry diapers, baby food, and other essentials.
- A pharmacy is available in Terminals 1, 2A, 2B, 2C, 2D and 2F.
Middle East & Asia Hub Airports
Dubai, United Arab Emirates – Dubai International Airport has several distractions for the youngest travelers and their parents.
- A children’s play area is located between Gates 12 and 14. A mother’s lounge is located next to the play area.
- Two quiet lounges for sleeping children can be found on either side of the Sheikh Rashid Terminal near Gates 9 and 23. Special reclining chairs are available.
- A swimming pool is open for passengers for a small fee, located in G-Force Health Club.
Singapore’s Changi Airport – If you didn’t know better, you would think that Changi Airport in Singapore was specifically designed with kids in mind. A longer layover here can be quite enjoyable.
- Playground: Located on Terminal 1, Level 3 next to McDonalds or in Terminal 2 next to Transfer E. You’ll find children’s films and climbing structures to enjoy. Suitable for ages 1-12.
- Parents’ Rooms include a diaper changing station and a hot water dispenser. Located in Terminal 1 near Gates C24 and D36; or in Terminal 2 near Gate E1. There are also cots and a small play area next to the Transit Hotel in Terminal 1, Level 1.
- Several gardens are located throughout the airport. Two that are popular with children are the Sunflower Garden, located on the outside rooftop garden near the Terminal 2 Entertainment Centre, and the Koi Pond, near the two ends of the Terminal 2 transit lounge.
- Feel like a little exercise? There’s a rooftop swimming pool in Terminal 1. You can also find a bit of fresh air in the Cactus and Heliconia Gardens in Terminal 1 or the Sunflower Garden in Terminal 2.
- The airport has two movie theatres, one in Terminal 2, Level 3, near the Entertainment Centre and one in Terminal 1, Level 3, at the Food Gallery.
- Televisions around the Departure/Transit Lounges in Terminal 2 play Cartoon Network.
- Public shower facilities are available in the Shower, Fitness, and Lifestyle Centre in Terminals 1and 2, Level 3. Open 24 hours a day.
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