Long security lines, unappetizing food outlets and limited seating at the gate — traveling has become a chore in recent years. Add tired, bored and hungry children to the mix and you have a potential vacation meltdown. The good news is airports in the United States and overseas are stepping up with fun activities and amenities geared toward young travelers. With a little pre-planning, you can take advantage of what some of the best of these have to offer.
Chicago O’Hare International Airport woos families with the Kids on the Fly exhibit featuring a life-sized play helicopter children can climb on. A huge dinosaur model from the Field Museum of Natural History, a Hall of Flags — children might recognize it as a scene from Home Alone — and scavenger hunts will also go a long way toward whiling away the time between flights.
Helsinki Airport eases the stress of traveling with kids by offering everything from a dedicated family security check-in gate to play areas located throughout the terminals and even a cafe that serves up baby formula and offers baby seats. Meanwhile, teens can try their hands at arcade racing games or tap into the free WiFi to use their own smartphones.
Hong Kong International Airport offers the biggest IMAX theater in the country, but jet-lagged families can also take advantage of sleeping rooms, wander through scenic gardens and, most of all, shop until they drop.
Munich Airport features a surf simulator, open to kids 8 and up; baby changing rooms; and a Kinderland play area, offering supervised fun for kids while mom and dad catch their breath at the dedicated Parents Lounge.
San Francisco International Airport caters to little ones with play areas called Kids’ Spots, sprinkled throughout the terminals. A highlight is a pared-down version of the Exploratorium in San Francisco, complete with interactive stations focusing on wacky weather.
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol created a mini version of the city’s popular NEMO science museum at the airport with interactive exhibits for school-aged children, while little wanna-be pilots can play on a climb-on toy plane or hug huge stuffed toys on so-called Holland Boulevard.
Singapore Changi Airport understands the special challenges of long-haul flights on families. But XBox 360 gaming stations, a movie theater showing complimentary full-length features, a rooftop swimming pool and even a stroll through a magical garden full of motion-activated glass lights make the airport a destination unto itself.
With kids back in school and the grueling temperatures of summer finally behind us, life is starting to get back into the routine of fall. That doesn’t mean, however, that family fun has to stop. Big international trips may not be practical for all family travelers this time of year, but places like South County in Rhode Island offer so many fun things to do for families, a quick trip to this East Coast haven is practically a must.
United Airlines is in the midst of a major initiative to modernize its fleet over the next several years. After first announcing the plan in 2021, planes fitted with United’s signature interior are finally beginning to appear across the airline’s narrowbody fleet of Boeing and Airbus planes. United flyers are sure to notice these enhancements from the moment they step on board: Each new or updated plane sports remodeled seats, seatback entertainment screens for everyone, Bluetooth connectivity and more, all adding up to a better experience on every journey.
Take Part in England’s Exmoor Dark Skies Festival Dusk Wildlife Safaris and Children’s Art Competition
Planning a trip to the United Kingdom soon? Time your travel for the Exmoor Dark Skies Festival in Somerset, England, from Oct. 13 to 29. The setting is Exmoor National Park, located within a gorgeous mix of farmland, wild forests, stunning valleys and moorlands in South West England.
Part of a family who just loves a good scare or ghost story? This fall, wherever your travels might take you, chances are you’ll be near an Omni hotel or resort with a history of haunted sightings and other scary happenings. So, why not learn a bit about where you’re staying to make the experience all the more eerie …
As the only major U.S. airline to own a flight school, United Airlines already hit a major milestone, and now the carrier celebrates another important — and historic — step as the inaugural class of United Aviate Academy pilots graduates, leading the next generation of aviators. The 51 students in the graduating class were majority, at 80 percent, women and people of color — another stride toward United’s goal of training 5,000 new pilots by 2030 with half women or POC.
Overshadowed by nearby Portland and overlooked by tourists bound for the popular coastal towns of Camden and Boothbay Harbor, Brunswick is not on the radar of most family travelers in Maine. But couples looking for a cozy getaway will find fine dining, antiques, art and quiet streets for strolling, many lined by distinguished homes and well-kept gardens.