A diversion guide for kids when you're stuck at JFK, ORD, LAX, MCO and many other airports
Flying with kids can be a challenge, but this Cheapflights
guide takes a look at fun activities at some of the domestic and international key connecting airports.
A caveat: while lots of airports are opening new, innovative play
areas and museums, don't leave your child there unattended. No matter
how secure it seems, supervised play is safe play.
Family Friendly Security Lanes
Did you know that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) www.tsa.gov is starting to group security checkpoints, in hopes of speeding up the process for everyone?
If you're traveling with your family, look for the Green Circle
lanes, designated for those who need extra time. You'll get a bit of
breathing space, without in-a-hurry, laptop-toting frequent flyers
breathing down your necks and demanding that you move faster. (Those
folks can go in the Blue Square or Black Diamond lanes.) The TSA says
separating its security lanes has already increased efficiency and saved
time for family travelers. Next time you travel with kids, it could
just save your sanity.
AIRPORTS IN THE U.S.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
As the world's busiest airport, there's plenty of space for art and
exhibits, like the awesome model train exhibition near the entrance to
Concourse T. And don't miss Yangchuanosaurus! ATL partnered with the
Fernbank Museum of Natural History to display the skeleton in the
Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall (BWI)
Upstairs in the main terminal, in BWI's Observation Gallery, is a
one-of-a-kind children's play area. There's an array of airplane parts: a
wing, tail, wheels -- even part of a fuselage. Plus some fun equipment
meant to be played on (don't fret -- the area is carpeted).
Boston Logan International (BOS)
In Terminal C (the departure level of the main terminal), the
Children's Museum of Boston has created Kidport. It offers hands-on,
educational exhibits like an airplane sculpture for climbing, a
baggage-claim slide, an infant and toddler play area, and a "what's
outside" window display. There's another Kidport in Terminal A (designed
by Playtime), which sports a replica of the unique Boston control
Charlotte Douglas International (CLT)
If you have a long layover, here's a great diversion that's just a
5-minute drive from the airport: the Carolinas Aviation Museum. There,
you'll see more than 50 aircraft on display. Admission is $5 for
children, $8 for adults. Hours: Sundays from 1pm-5pm; Tuesdays through
Saturdays 10pm-4 p.m. Information: 1-704-359-8442.
Chicago O'Hare International (ORD)
Once you're through security at Terminal 2, head to the Chicago
Children's Museum's Kids On the Fly interactive exhibit. Fully
accessible to passengers with disabilities, there's tons to see and
learn: an air traffic control tower, a tricked-out helicopter, cargo
plane, luggage station -- plus a restored F4F-3 Wildcat, the kind that
WWII hero, Lt. Commander Edward "Butch" O'Hare (the airport's namesake)
Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International (CVG)
A Kidsport is located in one of the most prominent places in the
airport: the top of the escalator on Concourse A. Kids can explore
miniature buildings, parents can sit in rocking chairs and supervise,
and the Cartoon Network is on in the background. Sweet simplicity.
Dallas/Fort Worth International (DFW)
Look for a trio of Junior Flyer Clubs. The largest one is located in
Terminal B, at Gate 12. The 685-square-foot aviation playground has a
runway, roadway, car, airplane, and control tower. The Terminal C club
is at Gate 14. In International Terminal D, Gate D-30, televisions in
the play areas broadcast the Boomerang channel. Need to wander more? Hop
on the Skylink. Sure, Skylink can quickly connect passengers between
terminals, but kids know better: it's an awesome ride through one of the
busiest airports in the country.
Denver International Airport (DEN)
There's a small, unsupervised play area on the mezzanine level of
Concourse B, but the coolest attraction is the free underground train.
Kids find it fascinating, and it's a safe, easy way to pass the time.
Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW)
Detroit, a large Northwest Airlines hub, sports seven - count 'em -
play areas. All are located in the relatively new McNamara Terminal, and
are arrayed along the boarding concourses. You'll find four play areas
in Concourse A, two in Concourse B, and one in Concourse C. In the
check-in lobby of venerable Smith Terminal there's a neat Sturgeon
display. Kids love it. These fish have been swimming in the Great Lakes
since the days of the dinosaurs.