Steeling yourself for that flight out to your half-term holiday? Simone Kane reveals how to avoid the tantrums

Half-term is upon us, and if you're heading off to the airport with the family, you know that frayed tempers are just a tantrum away. So is it possible to make your passage to the plane more pleasant and stave off the boredom if your flight is delayed? Most of the UK's airports have paying lounges for all the family to use and free play areas too. Here's a guide to what you can find.

London Heathrow

There are small free play areas in several locations throughout the terminal buildings.

Terminal 1: The Servisair lounge, located airside (head for World of Whiskies and go upstairs to the second-floor balcony), is one of many across the UK's airports. Although these are executive lounges, they're not just for business travellers; some also welcome children and infants. To take advantage of facilities including comfy seating, complimentary drinks, snacks, newspapers and magazines, it will cost £17.95 per person, including children, for up to three hours before your departure time. For lounges in BAA airports, you should book in advance through the individual airport's website, at baa.com or on 0870 850 2825. This is also where to find out about opening times and accessibility. Use the contact details given for other airports.

Terminal 2: The Penauille Servisair lounge (see above) welcomes kids. Go airside and take the lift to the catering balcony, next to Caffè Uno.

Terminal 3: The Jetterz Kids Club lounge opens daily from 8am to 7pm for families with children aged five to 14 years. It's equipped with a TV, DVD player, reading material, computer and other games, as well as a range of toys. It's fully supervised – somewhere to drop the kids while you shop. It's located airside in the transfers check-in area, and two hours' play costs £15 per child, £10 per hour thereafter. Book on 020-8897 9183 or 07767 368600 or ops@diamond-air. co.uk. T3 also has a Servisair lounge (see above) that admits children, airside by Gate 12A.

Terminal 4: The KLM Holideck is open daily from 6.30am to 10pm and offers entertainment for families across three floors. The Main Deck has a lounge with free refreshments, newspapers, magazines and interactive toys for pre-schoolers. This is where older children will also find an interactive zone with the latest PS2 and PSP games. The Flight Deck is an observatory with panoramic views of the airfield. The Enterprise Deck and the Upper Deck admit children only over 16 years. Parental supervision is required. It's located airside, next to Gates 15 and 16; children under 15 pay £10 and adults £20 for a three-hour session. Pay on the door, book at heathrowairport.com or call 020-8750 9807.

London Gatwick

North Terminal: For young children there is a free Babylandings soft-play area, with foam mats and cushions, and two Fingabox interactive console tables, on the lower level of the international departure lounge by Boots. There are more Fingabox tables on the upper level near Chez Gérard. The Aviance Lounge Alexandra Suite opens daily from 6am to 9pm and admits children over 12 years old, but has a smart-casual dress code. It costs £17.95 per person for up to three hours before departure time and is located airside. Go through the main departure lounge, take the walkway at WH Smith and the lift to the first floor).

South Terminal: There are free Fingabox console tables (see above) and small free play areas in several locations throughout the terminal. A Servisair Executive Lounge (see above) admitting children is airside on the upper shopping level between Upper Crust and Garfunkels.

Manchester Airport

Terminal 1: As part of a £35m redevelopment of the terminal, a new catering area opens here tomorrow. You'll find it airside on the mezzanine level at the end of the departure lounge, overlooking the airfield. The Globetrotter play area has a soft floor, kids' TV a drawing table and activity bench. There's also the Bollin Lounge (follow the signs after security), which opens daily from 9am to 12 midnight excluding Christmas Day and admits "well-behaved" children, price £18.50 per person. Booking is advised on 0870 787 6877 or at executivelounges.com.

Terminal 2: There are no free play facilities in this terminal. But The Escape Lounge, open daily from 6am-9pm until 28 October and 6am-8pm from 29 October to 30 March, accepts children over eight years old. Younger children are permitted only by invitation from their airline when travelling first or business class. Adults pay £17.95, children £9 for up to three hours before departure time. Book on 0161-489 3388 or escape@manairport.co.uk. The Style Lounge is open daily 9am to 11pm and on a trial basis is currently admitting "well-behaved" children for £17.95 per person. Book on 0870 7876877 or executivelounges.com. Both lounges are airside, upstairs between Gates 208 and 209.

Glasgow

The Skylounge Holiday Wing is open daily from 5am to 7.30pm until 31 October and 5am to 6pm from 1 November to 31 March. It aims to keep children of all ages happy with toys, games consoles, DVDs and digital television. Complimentary soft and alcoholic drinks, snacks, newspapers and magazines and internet access are also offered. Open to international passengers with valid boarding cards; adults pay £17.50 and children aged two to 15 years pay £7 for up to three hours before departure. You'll find it airside; go through the WDF shop and take the lift to the second floor. Book online at glasgowairport.com, call 0870 850 2825, or pay on arrival at the Cherry Mobile desk on the first floor before security. Each adult who buys a ticket gets a £5 retail voucher. There is also a free soft-play area for younger children airside on the International Pier at Gate 50, and there are puzzle tables, Lego equipment and Fingabox (see above) consoles by seating areas in several locations.

Stansted

The two free play areas are being upgraded and are changing location, so are currently unavailable. But the airside Servisair lounge (see above) admits children over 12 years, departing from Gates 1-19. You'll find it near these gates, upstairs next to Starbucks. Because of its location it is inaccessible to passengers of all Ryanair and of Easyjet domestic flights. Book online, although, subject to availability, travellers can pay on the door with a credit card.

Bristol

Opened in May, the Servisair Cabot Lounge (see above) admits children over 12 years. Located airside, spanning the runway side of departures; admission costs £16 per person regardless of age. Pay on the door or pre-book; sign up free at bristolairport.co.uk for the airport's Travel Rewards and you'll get a 25 per cent discount. In the rest of the airport, free children's activity packs are distributed in the public areas in the event of delays and in school holidays DVDs will be shown in the departure lounge next to Gate 1.

East Midlands

The Penauille Servisair lounge (see above) is on the first floor airside and admits supervised children over eight. Book online at executivelounges.com, eastmidlandsairport.com, or call 0870 787 6877 and you'll pay £16 per person, or £17.50 on the door. There is a young children's play area in the first-floor departure lounge near the food court.

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