Whether you are a frequent flyer or not, you will likely find yourself in a lot of different airports, and some of them are definitely built with families in mind. Meanwhile, others leave a lot to be desired as far as facilities and keeping kids occupied between flights.
We asked many fellow travel blogger experts what their favourite family friendly airports are around the world and why they rate them.
BEST FAMILY FRIENDLY AIRPORTS IN THE WORLD
What Makes a Great Family Friendly Airport
Flying with kids is always easier when you’ve got the facilities and services to pass the time in comfort. There are some incredible tech advancements gracing many international airports around the world, however that does not always mean they cater to kids.
It is many of the smaller things that make airports great for families too. Things like easily finding the facilities you need. Simple check in and baggage claim processes and priority lines. One airport I don’t love is LAX. It is complete chaos at the best of times, however the thing to do well is prioritising families, which is appreciated after a long haul flight from Australia.
Travelling With Babies & Toddlers
Depending on the ages of your children and whether you are flying with babies or older kids, the type of facilities on offer are definitely important. At the minimum, all airports should have facilities for mothers and babies, including change tables and private areas for breastfeeding. Having heating facilities for warming bottles and food is also a huge plus, and something every airport should offer!
Family restrooms are helpful too, because there is nothing worse than trying to squeeze a stroller into the toilet cubicle. These should be located throughout the airport for convenience for mums and dads with bubs.
Travelling with Older Kids
For the older kids, play areas and entertainment are the things that are going to give mum and dad their sanity. Children get restless during the layover or early check in times before flights. And the last thing you want before a super long flight is to expect them to sit still for an hour or two instead of working off some of their energy.
Our kids are content if they have a playground to amuse them. This will pretty much take up all their wait time when we have stopovers and airport downtime, yet it’s disappointing how many airports do not offer these facilities. It’s literally the worst! Okay, not the worst but it’s not helpful at all! Or if they do offer it, in some cases it is only in the main terminal and not convenient for all family travellers.
For tweens and teens, usually so long as there is free wifi for the duration, they are pretty content. Again, this isn’t the case at many airports and it can be surprising which ones do and don’t offer this simple comfort to passengers passing through the airport.
TRAVEL BLOGGERS FAMILY FAMILY FRIENDLY AIRPORTS
Seoul Incheon Airport
Seoul Incheon Airport is South Korea’s largest airport and is one of the busiest airports in the world. We recently took some flights to and from Incheon with our 1 year old and were amazed by how family friendly the airport is!
The 24-hour nursery rooms are one of the best facilities for those travelling with infants and we used them frequently during our time in Incheon. The nursery rooms are located throughout the airport and they offer baby changing and rest areas as well as hot and cold water and a machine to warm bottles. Incheon is a bustling and busy airport and it’s nice to have somewhere quiet to retreat to with a young traveller! Older children can burn some energy in the airport’s Kids Zones which are designed for 3 to 8-year-olds and have soft play areas.
For longer layovers, the airport has a capsule hotel as well as airport shower rooms which are complementary to transiting passengers.
Porto Airport, Portugal
Porto airport is one of our favourite airports. First off, it is really quiet, so getting through security is a breeze. There are no queues to worry about and staff at passport control are friendly. It is a fairly small but modern airport so getting around is straightforward and you don’t have to worry about long walks to the gate.
The general facilities are great, with all the shops and restaurants that you might expect. Travellers with babies will appreciate the huge and clean baby changing rooms and the free water fountains.
There are several soft play areas that are great for entertaining young children while you wait for the plane. Older kids can enjoy free wifi and free use of computers along with places to charge up all your electrical gadgets.
They even have live piano recitals in the main waiting area to create the perfect relaxed atmosphere before your flight (or possibly an opportunity for your kids to have a dance!).
Porto is one of the best airports for families, the only downside is the fact that we generally use it to fly to London Stansted, which is one of the worst.
Contributed by Chris from MoreLifeInYourDays
Dubai International Airport
There are a lot worse places to be stranded with children than Dubai International Airport. A kids’ zone inspired by the Arabian desert offers plenty of soft play and slides. The first stand alone Nutella café in an airport can provide a sugar rush on Concourse B, and you can pick up personalised jars as gifts. There’s ultra fast wi-fi throughout, and a Hard Rock café that teens will enjoy. You can take a stroll through the zen gardens or relax on free recliner seats. To chill out further there’s a health club with swimming pool, or an on-site hotel if you have a few hours in transit and want to sleep. And if you feel like some trip planning then an interactive tourism installation can create a tailor made two day itinerary for this visit or next. Fancy an overnight adventure in the desert? Sorted.
Kuala Lumpur Airport, Malaysia
Airports can be daunting with kids, especially with young kids, during long layover hours. Some kids find airports extremely confining after long travel and being filled with large crowds. Our personal experience at airports, while traveling with our toddler around the world has been good and bad at times. The most testing time for us is always while waiting in long queues at the immigration.
Some airports, however, try to make this experience more comfortable and offer many child-friendly amenities within the airport to keep kids busy and happy. During our Malaysia trip, we were flying through the night and somehow our son didn’t sleep through the flight and was obviously very grumpy when we landed. After clearing immigration at Kuala Lumpur airport with a small tantrum show by the baby, we were pleasantly surprised to find a small carnival play zone in the shopping area of the airport which proved to be a lifesaver. After spending an hour there, our son was tired enough to doze off to sleep and we had a peaceful rest of the day.
Contributed by Pujarini from MySoulTravels
London Gatwick Airport, England
We like to fly from London Gatwick airport because it’s close to where we live and it does a good job for families.
We often drive to the airport and find the valet parking is perfect for families. You just drop the car when you arrive, it’s a short walk into departures and the car is ready for you when you return. It’s a bit more expensive than getting the bus, but we find the reduced stress levels totally worth it!
Once you’re into departures, there are special family lanes in security. These dedicated lanes give extra time and help to get through security.
Once you’re through security, there are some good kid-friendly restaurant options (we like Jamie’s Italian and Wagamamas) and many offer kids menus and highchairs. You can warm baby bottles in Pret a Manger in the north and south terminals. If you’re travelling with a baby, it’s worth knowing there are baby changing facilities in the check-in area, on the way to the gates, in the transfer area and after passport control. Kids zones in both the north and south terminals are also a great feature. The softplay section at Gatwick South Terminal close to Costa Coffee is a particular favourite with our kids.
Contributed by Clare from Epic Road Rides
Changi Airport, Singapore
Dublin Airport, Ireland
Dublin Airport is one of the easiest airports we’ve travelled into with kids. Large baby change rooms that fit the whole family and all your bags make a nappy change must less stressful.
There’s also an epic play structure at McDonald’s in Terminal 1 departures. It includes soft play for the littlies and lots of climbing so the kids will be able to expend some energy either before or after your flight (and their coffee is actually pretty good!). It’s open 24/7.
If you’re flying to the US, Dublin airport does pre-clearance which makes landing in the USA a much smoother process. Our most recent flight from Dublin to New York saw us off the plane and waiting for a cab within 40 minutes. Bypassing customs clearance on arrival is a huge perk when travelling with tired kids.
If you’re flying into Dublin with kids, they conveniently have a baby gear rental service (called the Stork Exchange) in the airport! So you can rent strollers, car seats and travel systems before you pick up your hire car.
London Heathrow Airport, England
London Heathrow Airport is massive, but they know how to cater to children. They offer family-friendly washrooms and have a great kids play area. It is not just a little structure to play in, it is a full climbing structure and they even offer socks! While parents must stay to keep an eye on their little ones, they also have staff present.
A few things to note about Heathrow: If you are transiting through Heathrow, you will likely have to change terminals. That means that you will need to board a bus with your children. When you arrive to your departure terminal you will also have to clear security AGAIN, and they are very strict about the 100ml allowances. Do not save any wine from your previous flight. Note that they do allow more than 100ml for babies needs. They have a dedicated wheelchair line that they generally put families in as well. The line does move slow as strollers need to be checked and families are known for having a lot of carry-on luggage! Do not feel rushed, take your time, and you will get to your new gate (hopefully with time to play in a play area before your next flight!)
Contributed by Lindsay from Carpe Diem Our Way
Hamad International Airport Doha
Do you like some particular airport because it has your favourite shop? Or because one of the coffee shops has the best coffee? For my jetsetter kids, Hamad International Airport in Doha is the one. They love the playground in the middle, near the central Plaza.
It doesn’t matter how jet-lagged they are, whether we are just starting a holiday or coming home to Oman – climbing the enormous metal structure and sliding down from it is a must. And if by any chance they get bored with it (after a few hours) they never tire of seeing the huge teddy bear lamp sculpture.
Close by is more excitement in the toy shop with its roaring dinosaur head. Doha Airport is the place where your exhausted children will bounce back to life. You just have to get yourself more coffee.
Contributed by Ania from The Travelling Twins
Perth International Airport, Australia
The Perth International departure lounge is great if you have kids. It is at the far end of the terminal and easy to spot due to the cute mural. It has a playground complete with a slide and a ride-on plane the younger kids will appreciate. There is an interactive screen that will light up when it is touched. There are also two touch screens with computer games to keep the older kids amused.
The playground is located right next a baby-friend toilet with all the facilities you require for both nappy and feed time, including a chair and microwave. There is a water fountain to fill up water bottles close-by to help you save money. It is located next to family friendly eating establishments so parents can eat whilst the kids can blow off some steam before a flight.
Flying can be hard work! When you add little ones into the mix, it can become nothing short of nerve-wrecking. So having family friendly facilities can make all the difference to having a nice family trip. The international terminal in Perth, Australia is excellent and is one of the best family friendly airports in the world.
Contributed by Alana from Family Bites Travel
Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, USA
Newcastle International Airport, England
Newcastle International Airport serves the north-east of England and southern Scotland, and lies under seven miles north-west of Newcastle’s city centre. That’s about 30 minutes’ ride on a Metro or a 20-minute drive on a clear run. A short-stay car park stands in front of the terminal, means it’s no hassle to drop family members by the airport’s doors.
The terminal building is compact, modern, and has good signage — helping ensure the airport easy to get around. Assistance is offered to those who need it. It will make sense to call the airport 48 hours in advance of your flight to discuss requirements.
If you need to grab snacks before going through security the Greggs fast food outlet is an inexpensive option. In addition to pasties and cakes, it sells a decent array of sandwiches. There’s a sizable bar, a café and food outlets airside too.
There are two baby change areas either side of security and there’s a Boots store airside that sells the likes of nappies, sun cream, and medicines. The Aspire Lounge has a play area while Namco Games offers opportunities to while away time before the flight playing arcade games.
Contributed by Stuart from Go Eat Do
Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam
We live in South Africa and my family is all in The Netherlands so we fly through Schiphol usually once a year. I LOVE spending time at this airport. It just has SO much to keep you busy. We discovered a small version of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam where I bought some beautiful presents. There are many lovely restaurants and also things to keep you busy like massage machines, a restaurant where you sit in a tea cup, a mini science centre to keep my daughter happy.
You can get good coffee in many MANY different corners and I just LOVE the Dutch Delicacies shops where I can always stock up on stroopwafels and speculaas before we fly out.
Another great thing about Schiphol airport is that there are SO many amazing clothing shops by Dutch retailers. Whenever I arrive it is my first stop to get some nice clothes from brands that I really love and miss. We hardly ever leave that airport without buying really nice things for ourselves or presents for friends.
Contributed by Jessy from Planet Pilgrims
Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport
The Mumbai CSIA is one of the best family-friendly airports in the world. The facilities provided, the ambience and the cleanliness inside the airport makes the whole experience of departures and arrivals a memorable experience.
The JayaHe GVK New Museum inside the Mumbai CSIA (Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport) is a treasure trove of more than 5000 exhibits that showcase the rich culture, art and heritage of both ancient and contemporary India. It is supposedly the largest airport museum in the world. The museum effortlessly forms a component of the Mumbai airport showcasing the rich heritage, vibrancy, diversity and traditions of India through its exhibits.
It narrates the story of India to its visitors through art and colours. The museum also beautifully essays how Indians live and experience multiple eras at once through this country’s diversity and legacy.
Passengers especially children are sure to be enthralled by this public canvas of colours on their way to the departure gates, baggage claim area and exit gates. What I loved about the JayaHe Museum is that it instantly uplifts the sombreness that is invariably associated with airports. As travellers, we often spend many hours at the airport waiting for our flights or transiting from one place to another. It becomes all the more difficult with children in tow. It would be wonderful if every airport has a mini-museum like this- showcasing local traditions, folklore, art and architecture on a public canvas reachable to all. This way, both children and adults are engaged especially during long layover times.
Contributed by Meenakshi from Polka Junction
Zurich Airport, Switzerland
Travelling through Zurich airport with little ones is pure joy. Thanks to Switzerland’s famous efficiency, getting through the airport is quick and easy. There are rarely long waiting queues which anyone travelling with young children will fully appreciate. If you do get stuck in a queue, the airport staff are super attentive and will direct you to an express lane for quick passport processing.
For families in transit, Zurich airport has two dedicated Family Services areas. These are large, bright playrooms free to use for anyone travelling with children. The playrooms offer a happy respite for parents while providing plenty of play opportunities for small and bigger kids. For babies, there’s a quiet sleeping and breastfeeding area, baby products and a kitchenette with microwave. For the bigger kids, there’s a craft corner, computer games with play , football table and plenty of toys to keep everyone occupied for a few hours. Parents will need to stay with their kids, but the awesome facilities ensure that even parents get to relax for a while.
Contributed by Nina from West Australian Explorer
Hong Kong International Airport
Being stuck in an airport for hours is awful, especially if you have toddlers on tow. But thanks to family-friendly airports, kids can have fun at dedicated play areas and entertainment zones rather than being crabby all the time.
After an amazing family vacation at Hong Kong, we were held up at the HK International Airport for more than six hours due to flight delays. Luckily, there were enough and more kid’s play-areas and TV lounges to keep them occupied. We could spot big TV screens showing cartoons at many places inside the terminal. In fact the play-areas had some toys and games for children to use while waiting to board their flights. The children’s space were not at all crowded, we could sit comfortably watching the kids play.
The airport facilities were top notch for easing the long layovers. There were changing rooms, nursing rooms and plenty of baby strollers with storage space available for free usage. Another unforgettable experience we had in Hong Kong International Airport as a family is the chance to enjoy our favorite Starbucks coffee and a better choice of comfort food from famous fast food chains.
Contributed by Nitha from The Trailing Mom
Beijing Airport, China
While flying to India with my toddler via Air China, I had to spend over 15 hours at the Beijing Airport. While we spent over half our time in Beijing exploring the city’s popular attractions including the Great Wall of China, we also spent a good 6 hours within the airport. I found the airport very family-friendly and great for traveling with babies and toddlers. After having a muffin at the coffee shop, we explored the Terminal. I found the kids play area where I let my toddler run amok. While it wasn’t large, it had a couple of climbing toys along with screens showing popular cartoons. It was enough for my toddler to burn off his excessive energy! Another thing I loved about the airport was the big, spacious nursing rooms and clean family restrooms with diaper changing stations. The family restrooms even had a combination child and adult toilet seats which was my favorite feature. Seriously, airports need to have more of these for traveling families.
Contributed by Ketki from Dotted Globe
This is of course not an exhaustive list of top airports around the world, however it is loaded with international airports that are doing their best to make air travel more comfortable for families. Our personal favourite, as confirmed by our little miss 6 years old, is Changi Airport in Singapore, which of course is on this list already as it is a favourite for many.
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