Traveling can be stressful and tedious. Add kids to the mix and traveling can be hellish. But many airports have gone out of their way to ensure that parents aren’t pulling out their hair by offering kid-friendly amenities throughout the airport.
Providing kid-friendly amenities is a smart move for airports. The US Travel Association released a statistic that over 30% of US adult leisure travelers travel with children or grandchildren! So in order to appeal to these audiences, kid-friendly amenities are a must.
TravelNerd conducted a study to find the best and worst airports for kids based on the number of nurseries and kid play areas available. These kid-friendly spaces offer a safe haven for both parents and kids. Parents don’t have to stress about entertaining their children, and kids are able to expel their energy before a long flight. Let’s take a look at the best and worst airports:
BEST AIRPORTS FOR KIDS
1. San Francisco (SFO): With 14 dedicated nurseries and 3 kid play areas, SFO has a whopping 17 areas dedicated to your little ones. In addition, SFO also provides a list of things to see and do with your kids at the airport. Suggestions include the aquarium in Terminal 1, museum exhibits throughout the terminals, and the Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum in the International Terminal!
2. Portland (PDX): Kids are #1 in PDX! Despite being a smaller airport in terms of annual passenger traffic with only 14 million annually (compared to SFO’s 43 million), PDX offers an impressive 11 nursing areas and 2 kid play areas. The clean, modern and laid back ambience of the airport should make traveling with kids a breeze.
3. San Jose (SJC): SJC provides 6 dedicated nursing rooms for the little ones. Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, the free airport Wi-Fi is excellent (and very fast), allowing kids to entertain themselves on their iPads and other tech gadgets.
4. Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW): Although there aren’t any nurseries in DFW, there are 5 kid play areas for the children to romp around before the flight. For some fresh air, take the kids on a tour of the outdoor sculpture garden outside Terminal D.
5. Boston Logan (BOS): Rocking chairs are everywhere. With 3 nurseries, 2 kid play areas and rocking chairs throughout the airport, BOS is loaded with kid-friendly amenities.
6. Nashville (BNA): Although BNA doesn’t advertise it on their website, there are 2 nurseries available for family use (one in the A/B Concourse and another in the C Concourse). In addition to the clandestine nurseries, BNA provides 3 kid play areas throughout the airport. There are also Redbox DVD vending machines near security if your kids want to watch a movie during the flight. For the musically inclined little ones, there are weekly live music performances on 3 stages throughout the airport.
7. Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX): Take your hyper kids to one of 4 kid play areas throughout the airport. Is your kid a Picasso in the making? Visit the largest airport art collection in the US for free 24 hours a day.
8. Detroit Metropolitan (DTW): Run around with the kids in one of 3 kid play areas. If all else fails, take them on a walk through the Light Tunnel, which connects Concourse A with Concourse B/C. The Light Tunnel displays a multi-colored light show choreographed with music!
9. Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP): Want a picture with Snoopy? In honor of the creator of Snoopy, a Minnesota native, there is a Snoopy statue in Terminal 1 near one of 2 kid play areas. To feed the baby, head to Terminal 1 Concourse C for a private mothers room. P.S. If you forgot extra diapers, a pacifier or sippy cup, there is a vending machine with kid essentials in Terminal 1’s kid play area.
10. Seattle-Tacoma (SEA): With both a nursery and a kid play area, the Emerald City is great for kids. Keep your eyes and ears open for the Sea-Tac Airport Music Initiative, which plays the Northwest’s best music by bringing musicians to video screens throughout the airport.
Not all airports are made equal and not all airports are kid-friendly. Below is a list of the worst airports for kids based on the lack of kid-dedicated spaces. These airports do not have any nurseries or kid play areas.
WORST AIRPORTS FOR KIDS
1. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta (ATL)*
2. Denver (DEN)*
3. John F. Kennedy (JFK)*
4. Charlotte (CLT)*
5. Miami (MIA)*
6. Orlando (MCO)
7. Newark (EWR)
8. LaGuardia (LGA)
9. Washington Dulles (IAD)
10. Houston (HOU)
*Identified by Airports Council International as one of the Busiest Airports in the World in 2012
It’s astonishing that half of the airports on TravelNerd’s worst list are considered to be the busiest airports in the world but don’t have any amenities for children. Over 278 million passengers flew in and out of ATL, DEN, JFK, CLT and MIA combined in 2012. Yet these airports have not provided any nurseries or kid play areas for their young passengers – seems like a major oversight. Unfortunately, families traveling through these airports will have to plan their own kid-friendly travel activities.
Although the focus of this study was on airport provided nurseries and kid play areas, it’s important to consider that airlines sometimes offer amenities for children. For example, JetBlue in JFK offers their own kid play area for passengers. This shows that airlines have started to cater towards their customers’ needs to provide a better traveling experience – even if the airports didn’t care to do so.