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Prevent Airport Meltdowns With These Amenities

by Felicity Long

Sep 22, 2017

Romrodinka | Dreamstime

Travel Tips

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, Finland

Helsinki Airport, Finland. Photo: Absente | Dreamstime

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.


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