Katy Holland: Family holidays of the future could start at the airport
Are we there yet? Airports catering for kids
Sunday 03 April 2011
The Easter holidays are upon us and airports up and down the land will be bursting at the seams with parents trying to control and entertain their sprogs. Chaos, queues and delays: let the battle to get away commence.
It's good to know that the planned new "super lounge" at Heathrow's Terminal 3 will take some of the sting out of catering for kids when it opens in August. It promises a mini-cinema, games rooms, a family room, a bistro-style menu, and, best of all, a bit of space for the adults. The idea is that your time at the airport will become a "highlight" of your journey. So, it means shelling out £25 per adult, £12.50 for a child, a bit of a killer, but the cost could be outweighed by the inclusion of food, drinks and entertainment. But is it really too much to ask for free kids' facilities in airports? Why should we have to fork out just to stop them from tearing the place apart?
Many European airports seem to do it so much better than us. Take Munich, which has so many free things for youngsters to do that it's hard to drag 'em away. The Kinderland area has climbing towers and computer games, a cinema as well as soft-play areas.
I've scoured the country for similar offerings here, and while it's slim pickings, there are a few hopeful signs that things may be changing for the better.
First there's the rather brilliant new innovative science exhibition at Cardiff Airport, which offers hands-on exhibits so that kids can give their brains a work-out while they wait for their flight.
Then there's the new funky children's play area at Manchester Airport, which was created last year. You'll find padded window seats with runway views, computer games, as well as art materials. If it proves successful this summer, play areas will be opened in Manchester's other two terminals.
At Bristol Airport, meanwhile, there are special plans afoot to keep kids happy, with face painting, activities and entertainment organised during the school holidays, as well as activity packs handed out during airline delays.
Does this mean things are moving in the right direction at last? Watch this space. Meanwhile, I'd love to hear your opinions and experiences.
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