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5 Top Family-Friendly Airports

Traveling is often a mixture of pleasure and pain. For families with young children, the experience can be quite trying. Several of the world’s airports have recognized the challenges of flying with children and have taken steps to make traveling through their facilities a much more enjoyable experience. Here are five airports that are particularly good destinations or layovers for both parents and kids.

Toy airplane

O’Hare International Airport – Chicago, USA

Located in the heart of the American Midwest, flight delays due to inclement weather are commonplace at O’Hare. As any parent knows, the waiting time for a flight can tax a child’s patience even when everything is running on time. There are diverse ways to keep kids entertained at O’Hare when the wait becomes much longer than expected. The Chicago Children’s Museum has set up numerous interactive exhibits including “Children on the Fly.” It offers children the opportunity to learn about airport operations with a fantasy helicopter to refuel, cargo plane to load and unload, and a miniature air traffic control tower. There are also plenty of play areas where kids can zip down slides or play with LEGO bricks.

Heathrow International Airport – London, England

Getting to and from the Heathrow airport is made much easier by taking the train. Heathrow has direct train routes to and London that leave and arrive every 15 minutes. There are also bus and coach routes from areas outside London that go directly to the airport, saving families from the added stress of transferring their luggage and children multiple times before they can even check-in for their flights.

Once at the airport, waiting for your flight to board is made less stressful thanks to the numerous arcades and play areas for younger children. Families with very young children benefit from the many changing and feeding areas located throughout each terminal.

Kuala Lampur International Airport – Kuala Lampur, Malaysia

Kuala Lampur International is a relatively new airport that focused from the beginning on making travel more enjoyable for adults and kids alike. The airport is packed with casual restaurants and arcades. The Plaza Premium Lounge is an especially nice area to wait for a flight. Children under age 6 can enter free of charge while older kids pay a small fee that covers the entire day, should you be on an extended layover or flight delay. The lounge offers free Internet access, television, showers, nap areas and more.

Schiphol Airport – Amsterdam, Netherlands

Schiphol is one of the most relaxing airports you could ever hope to visit. The walls are adorned with original paintings by Dutch masters. The airport also features a library where you can read books in more than 25 different languages, watch films and TV shows, or listen to music. Most of these electronic amenities can be downloaded free, so you can finish what you were watching or listening to on your flight. The Kids Forest is an indoor playground with plenty of climbing equipment, slides and other ways for kids to release their energy. Mothers will love the Babycare Lounge where the cribs all have fresh linens and a comfortable changing and feeding area.

Orlando International – Orlando, USA

With Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Orlando and Sea World, Orlando is one of the most popular destinations for families in the world. The airport is designed to keep kids comfortable and entertained. Plenty of open space, indoor trees, and aquariums adorn the concourses. The life-size sculptures of Disney characters scattered about will also keep their imaginations engaged. The seating areas are designed to make eating and relaxing much more pleasurable for families.

Many parents used to dread flying with children because of the lack of activities for the kids at check-in and during the flight. Family-friendly airports like these make it easier for you to start enjoying your vacation as soon as you get to the airport.

Photo by xpistwv. (Creative Commons)

What is your favorite (or least favorite) airport for families traveling with children? Tell us in the comments!

A Note from The Travel Mama: This post brought to you by Cheapflights.co.uk.

About Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama

Colleen Lanin is the founder/editor-in-chief of TravelMamas.com. As the author of her book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents not only how to survive a trip with children, but also how to love exploring the world with their offspring. Her stories have appeared online and in print for such outlets as the "Today" show, NBCNews.com, Parenting Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, Chicago Tribune, Expedia, San Diego Family Magazine, and more. Colleen gives tips on television, radio, and as a public speaker. She has a master’s degree in business administration with a background in marketing. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.


  1. I think you need to visit the new airport in Singapore and writ a review for us. It is supposed to be amazing!

  2. Jennifer – Sounds good to me! (I wish!)

  3. My kids enjoyed Orlando as well, although their favorite part was the Build-a-Bear that was before security.
    They really hate it when we have to go through LAX though. Absolutely nothing for them to do there, at least in the terminals we frequent.

  4. Oh my, the worst has to be Dulles International Airport in Virginia. There’s absolutely nothing for kids. Nothing. And even when I was traveling to France alone with a 9 month old and a two-year old, I had to wait in line at security for over a half hour with two very impatient, unhappy children. I asked a security official if there was anyway I could skip ahead but she said no. That’s just ridiculous. Even in Paris families with small children get priority, not to mention a parent traveling alone with kids!

  5. Steve & Barbara – I hope more airports catch the family-friendly wave and make things easier and more fun for parents at LAX, Dulles in Virginia, and beyond!

  6. My wife has been to all of the above mentioned airports and agrees!!! Although I must say Seoul is to date the most child friendly I have seen, and in Detroit we saw a jungle gym inside the airport. I’m happy that the world is slightly becoming more family friendly

  7. I would agree that airports are slowly becoming more child friendly or guess I should say family-friendly. Of course now that my children are getting close to fully grown they won’t have the fun experience of trying to entertain small children in the completely sterile airport environment that often had to try to entertain them in.

  8. So far, I’ve been to two out of the five: O’Hare International Airport and Heathrow International Airport – London, England. I’d like to visit Malaysia, Orlando (I have a cousin who lives there), and the Netherlands.

    My Heathrow Story

    Heathrow was nuts! I traveled to the UK in 2007 and had a connecting flight to Edinburgh International Airport through Heathrow. I missed my connection and the ticket agent wasn’t happy with me. He kept asking me ‘why’ I missed my flight, even though the plane I was on arrived on time. Well … the plane was on time, but the buses that take you to the concourses weren’t. Then I had to find the gate. It was an adventure!

    I’m glad I was by myself when I traveled to the UK. I couldn’t have imagined traveling with the family.

  9. Coming back, I set-off the alarm at Edinburgh International Airport as I went through security. I couldn’t understand “why,” until I looked at my hand. I forgot to remove my ring. I had to ‘step-to-the-right’ and the TSA agent used the wand on me. After that, I was cleared for take-off!

  10. Kasia Smalec says:

    If you travel with kids, avoid Dubai Airport as fire! It might be tempting to fly with Emirates but it isn’t worth it! You have to use the airport strollers, dirty and often broken, that is, if you find them at all in the first kilometer from your gate. The airport is huge and very crowded, no place to relax with children, even the business lounge was no help at all. No preferential lines nor any help for a single mother with kids. Exhausting and frustrating experience.

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