Airports

To save you time, we have checked out the facilities in the 10 countries that Aussies most frequently visit and you can use the links to the airport sites for more information.

  • 5 stars – very family friendly with lots of quality facilities for children
  • 4 stars – family friendly with a number of facilities for families
  • 3 stars – okay, but does not cater well for family needs
  • 2 stars – expect very little in the way of family facilities
  • 1 star – avoid using this airport

1. Singapore

 Singapore –

[Singapore Changi Airport – SIN]

* * * * *
The prize for the best airport for families is Singapore’s Changi. Julie, an Australian who frequently travels to London with her English husband and two young children always plans a day’s stopover at Changi if possible. She heads for the pool on the roof of the Ambassador Transit Hotel which is part of the airport, so you don’t need to clear Immigration or Customs. The children swim for hours and are ready for a long sleep by the time they board their plane to London.

Lena a mother of three, says going through Singapore Airport is always a good experience. The only bad things are the distances you need to walk and the breastfeeding chairs which are long, hard benches.

Swimming Pool

For S$13.65 (AUD$10.50) you can use the Ambassador Transit Hotel’s Balinese-themed pool, jacuzzi and shower facilities. The price also includes a towel and a free non-alcoholic drink from the bar. Access the pool in Terminal 1, near the Transit Hotel at Transit Mall East on Level 3. The pool is open from 7am to 11pm each day.

Parents’ Rooms
Terminal 1

  • Near gatehold room C24 at Transit Mall West, Level 2
  • Near gatehold room D36 at Transit Mall East, Level 2
  • Next to Delifrance Restaurant at Arrival Hall West, Public Area, Level 1

Terminal 2

  • Near gatehold room E1 at Transit Mall North, Level 2
  • Behind Sunglass Hut at Transit Mall South, Level 2
  • Near Check-in Row 7, Departure Hall Central, Public Area, Level 2

Free Singapore Tour

If you have a spare 5 hours, the Singapore Visitors Centre offers free 2 hour tours of Singapore. See the Changi website for full details and conditions.

Nature Trail

The airport has a number of themed gardens that children might enjoy.

Terminal 1

  • Bamboo Garden – near gatehold room D46 at Transit Mall East, Level 2
  • Cactus Garden – next to Harry’s Bar at Transit Mall West, Level 3

Terminal 2

  • Sunflower Garden – near Movie Theater at Transit Mall South, Level 3
  • Fern Garden – next to Bijoux Terner at Transit Mall North, Level 2
  • Orchard Garden – near Pacific Coffee at Transit Mall South, Level 2
  • Koi (fish) Ponds are located in the Fern and Orchid Gardens

Children’s Playgrounds

  • Terminal 1 – next to Burger King at Transit Mall West, Level 4
  • Terminal 2 – next to Family Zone at Transit Mall North, Level 2

Xbox Games are located near Tastes of Changi at Transit Mall Central on Level 3.

Pharmacies

Terminal 1

  • Guardian Pharmacy at Transit Mall East, Level 2

Terminal 2

  • Watsons at Transit Mall North, Level 2
  • Sinchong Meheco at Transit Mall South, Level 2
  • Watsons at Departure Hall North, Public Area, Level 2

Movie Theatres – Free of Charge

Terminal 2 – near the Sunflower Garden at Transit Mall South, Level 3
Terminal 1 -next to the Food Gallery at Transit Mall East, Level 3

Website: www.changiairport.com 


 

2. Hong Kong

Hong Kong – [Hong Kong International Airport – HKG] * * * * *
Deb, an experienced travelling Mum describes Hong Kong Airport as small and clean with safe play areas for toddlers. She says the best thing is fast, dedicated family check-ins if you travel with Cathay and sometimes other airlines – a godsend if you have tired, cranky children. Deb also notes that the staff at this airport are particularly good if you are travelling solo with children.

There are 28 well-equipped nursery rooms located throughout both Terminal 1 & 2. Most are next to toilets.

Transit Tours

If you have a long stop-over in Hong Kong and want to leave the airport, try a tour specifically designed for transit passengers. For around AUD$30-40 for adults and children, transit passengers can have 3 – 5 hour city tours. Have a look at City Tour and Hong Kong Transit Tour

Airport Hotel Day-Use

If you need to get away to a quiet area, the Regal Airport Hotel is connected to the airport by an enclosed, air-conditioned link bridge and offers day-use of their rooms. HK$600 (AUD$90) allows you four hours of use during the hours between 8am and 9pm. Each extra hour costs HK$100 (AUD$15). The hotel has an indoor and outdoor pool.

Entertainment

In Terminal 1 Departures Hall, Level 6 you’ll find the Kid’s Land play area between Gates 23 and 25. There are also Children’s TV Lounges and Games near Gates 1, 15, 41 and 60.

In Terminal 2 you’ll find an entertainment centre with a 4D Extreme Screen Cinema, Asia Hollywood, Aviation Discovery Centre and a sports simulation area called i-Sports. There are also many dining and shopping opportunities.

Website: www.hongkongairport.com 


 

3. Fiji

 Fiji – [Nadi International Airport – NAN]

* * *
Fiji’s international airport has a Parents’ Room on the ground floor of the VIP Lounge in the International Departures area. It is available to all parents free of charge. There are no other facilities for children.

Trish, a Mum who has taken her family to Fiji twice says that if you arrive at a busy time, there is usually a guitar playing troupe of musicians which keep children amused.

If you have a long wait, one possibility is to book a day room at the nearby Raffles Gateway hotel. Day rooms are available between 6am and 6pm. It costs AUD$80-90 per room for a maximum of 6 hours. There are free transfers to and from the airport. Let the children tire themselves out in the hotel’s pool and maybe they’ll sleep for the whole plane trip home.

Website: Click here


 

4. England

 London Heathrow – [London Heathrow Airport – LHR]


Heathrow is the world’s busiest international airport. Advice from a Mum who is a regular traveller to England is: “Heathrow is the pits for kids. It’s busy and overcrowded with over-the-top security. You can’t take water through (and struggle with bottles). Allowable hand luggage is very limited and strictly enforced. There are very few areas to sit and the more distant gates often used by airlines which go to Australia can mean 15 minutes of walking at adult pace.”

She continues, “Delays are frequent and can play havoc with feeding times for babies and children. The queues at every stage are enormous and no accommodation is made for kids. The only exception is if you are travelling as a family and one of you is an EC passport holder, even if the others are not, you are able to all whiz through the EC passport line. My advice generally for Heathrow is – AVOID IT LIKE THE PLAGUE and try to enter via another airport.”

Food & Supplies

Most restaurants and bars provide high chairs and children’s menus. You can buy nappies, formula and baby wipes at Boots, a chain on chemists.

Watching the Planes

The Tin Goose and Cafe Nero at Terminal 1 have good views of the runways for junior planespotters. Terminal 4 has a rooftop, glazed observatory with panoramic views of the runways and airfield.

Baby Change

  • Terminal 1: There are numerous changing facilities throughout the terminal, both before and after security.
  • Terminal 2: Six changing facilities throughout the terminal, both before and after security.
  • Terminal 3: Seven changing facilities throughout the terminal, three before security control and four after.
  • Terminal 4: Six changing facilities throughout the terminal, both before and after security.

Jetterz Kids Club Lounge – Terminal 3

If you’re feeling flush with leftover holiday funds and you have the time, you could try the fully supervised Jetterz Kids’ Club Lounge at Terminal 3 which is open from 8am to 7pm. Children between 5 and 14 years of age have access to TV, a DVD player, reading material, computer games plus toys and games. £15 ($35 AUD) will buy you two hours with £10 per hour after that.

KLM Holideck lounge – Terminal 4

For around £40 ($95AUD) you can book 2 adults plus 2 children into the KLM Holideck Lounge in Terminal 4. This lounge consists of three floors with the Main Deck suitable for families with small children. There are free refreshments, newspapers, magazines and interactive toys for pre-school children. PS2 and PSP games are also available. The lounge is open everyday from 6:30am to 11:00pm and is next to Gate 15/16. It’s a good idea to book ahead and you can book online.

Website: www.heathrowairport.com


 

5. New Zealand

Auckland – [Auckland International Airport – AKL] * * * *
Babies

Nursery rooms with cots and changing tables are available:

  • near gate 8 (after emigration)
  • between gate 1 and 3 (after emigration)
  • behind Sbarro in the Jean Batten Food Court (landside)

Children

Airspace entertainment centre

Activities include Lego activity centre, Crayola colouring-in corner, Funstation, flight simulator, Sega Rally and other activities. These are located on the first floor of the international terminal beside McDonald’s.

You’ll also find a range of games and rides in the ground floor arrivals area of the international terminal. Open 24 hours, 7days.

Lookout Lounge

Located on the top floor of the international terminal, this area has free play equipment suitable for young children.

Watching The Planes

Watching planes land and take-off can be entertaining for children. Head for the observation area on the top floor of the international terminal for great views of the airfield.

Showers

If delicate tummies get upset when travelling and you need to clean up, there are free showers on the ground floor of the arrivals area of the international terminal after immigration. Keys and towel hire are available from the Airways Florist. There are also free showers available for transit passengers.

There is a good range of food available, but the shops do tend to close in quiet times.

Website: www.auckland-airport.co.nz


 

6. USA

Los Angeles – [Los Angeles International Airport – LAX] *
The most common advice about LAX from parents who travel regularly with children is to avoid it at all costs. It is dirty, chaotic and has very little to offer in the way of good food. The airport website’s only information about travelling with children is that there are baby change areas in most toilet facilities. Allow for long waits and rude staff.

If you have a lengthy transit or wait for departure, you might like to visit the free aviation museum called the Flight Path Learning Center of Southern California which is not far from the airport. Alternatively, instead of waiting for hours at the airport, you could book a room at one of the many hotelsthat are within a few kilometres of the airport. Some of these offer reasonable half-day rates and free airport shuttles.

Website: www.lawa.org
San Francisco – [San Francisco International Airport – SFO] * * * *
This airport is a much better option than LAX when it comes to keeping children amused. There is an aquarium on the Departures Level of Terminal 1. An interactive children’s exploration area called the SFO Kids’ Spot is located post-security near Gate 87A, Boarding Area F in Terminal 3. TheAviation Museum in the pre-security area of the International Terminal Main Hall, Departure Level is open from 10:30am to 4:30pm is free-of-charge.

Look out for various exhibitions throughout the terminals from the San Francisco Airport Museums program. Recent themes have been Warner Bros. animation, fossils and the history of audio. Check the Museum’s site for current exhibitions.

You can hire portable DVD players and children’s movies to use at the airport, during a flight or for your whole holiday from InMotion Entertainment in Terminal 3 at Boarding Area F or pre-security in the International Terminal Main Hall.

AirTrain

The airport’s people mover system, the elevated AirTrain is free of charge and can provide children with good views of the airport. A trip on AirTrain’s Red Line takes nine minutes and the Blue Line takes 19 minutes.

Nurseries & Rest Rooms

Nurseries with change tables are located in Terminals 1 and 3. Family restrooms are located pre-security on the Departures level of Terminal 1 and on the Mezzanine Level of Terminal 3.

Website: www.flysfo.com


 

7. Thailand

 Bangkok – [Suvarnbhumi International Airport – BKK]

* *
Bangkok’s new airport doesn’t have much to offer for families. Parents who have travelled through have commented that there are long distances to walk and in summer the air-conditioning is inadequate. The airport’s website offers no information about change rooms for babies and a frequent complaint from travellers is that there aren’t enough rest rooms.

Keith, the Father of a two year old travels regularly through Bangkok and says they try to spend the minimum of time at the airport.

Websitewww.bangkokairportonline.com


 

8. China

 Beijing – [Beijing Capital International Airport – PEK]

* *
There is a rest room for babies on the northern side of Boarding Gate 25 of the domestic isolation region. Julie, who travelled solo through this airport with a baby comments that the airport is dull and not really set up for kids, but the Chinese staff are very helpful with children.

The third floor shopping area has Chinese themed shops where you can see a traditional Chinese tea ceremony.

A new airport will be opening in 2008.

Website: www.bcia.com.cn


 

9. Indonesia

 Jakarta – [Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta International Airport – CGK]

* *
This is another airport at which you want to spend the minimum of time if you have children. There are some baby change facilities located in the toilets. Terminal 2 has a baby care room. If you are departing or arriving very early or late, you might like to try the Sheraton Bandara Hotel which is about three kilometres from the terminals.

Website: www.angkasapura2.co.id


 

10. Malaysia

 Kuala Lumpur – [Kuala Lumpur Airport – KUL]
There are children’s play areas in the Main Terminal Building and the Satellite Building. Nurseries are on Level 5 of the Main Terminal Building, the International Level at Contact Pier and passenger level of the Satellite Building.

A pharmacy opens from 6am to midnight each day on Level 5 of the Departure Hall.

Nappy Change

Main Terminal Building – 2 locations, near The International Departure

Contact Pier (International) – near entrance Gate B2-B10

Contact Pier (Domestic) – Near entrance gate A2-A11 and next to Golden Lounge – Near entrance gate B1-B11 and next to Butler’s outlet

Satellite Building – Wing C11-C17

Watching the Planes

There is a viewing gallery at the end of the Main Terminal Building.

Website: www.klia.com.my


 

11 Frankfurt

 LH kids Lounge LUFTHANSA has opened its biggest Business Class Lounge at Frankfurt Airport, located in Departures Area B, and measuring close to 1,400m2. It features LH’s first ever ‘JetFriends’ area – a dedicated zone targeted towards children