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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Surviving the Airport with Kids and Flight Delays

Help for Family Travel – From Happily Ever After Travel

Airport Survival -

We never plan to be at the airport longer than it takes to check our bags, go through security and wait for boarding to begin. Unfortunately, sometimes you get through security and get to the gate only to have the time for your flight’s arrival roll forward an hour or more. OR, maybe your plane arrives, everyone is excited and then you see the mechanical team descend upon the plane. This is never a sign you will be boarding the plane quickly!

Whatever the delay, rain, mechanical problems or whatnot, here are some tips to stay happy and enjoy your time together, as a family at the airport. After all, you are on vacation!

Airports can be fascinating places to shop, dine and play. Enjoy these activities…

1.Check your airport map for Kid’s Play Zones. Atlanta, O’Hare and Logan offer kid play areas as well as an aquarium in San Francisco, just to name a few. Orlando offers fun floor mosaics between gates 100-129 with fish, flowers, and ferns for kids to trace with their feet.

2.Got an iphone? Download a new app and play a game of Scrabble or Monopoly together.

3.Never hurts to carry a deck of cards! Cards are lightweight and have an endless list of games you can enjoy together, from “Go Fish” to traditional Poker games, cards are a great way to enjoy each other’s company and pass the time.

4.Try a “Progressive Meal” during your stay. Most airports, like DFW, have a lot of dining choices. Why choose just one? Take turns choosing a location, split a meal and try another. Or, have appetizers and soup one place, salad another, entrée another and dessert yet another. You could spread dessert out at multiple locations, too. Have fun with it!

5.Stuck for a day? Some airport hotels offer day passes where you can enjoy the airport hotel pool for the day!

6.Get some exercise. Try walking around the terminal and have a walking race to see who can get back to the gate the fastest – WITHOUT running. Try exploring upstairs areas using the stairs instead of the elevators. With little ones try counting the stairs as you ascend and descend the stairs. Say the alphabet as you walk up and down the stairs and see if you can get through all the letters.

7.Visit the Airport Spa. Why not? It’s vacation. Most airports have spas popping up in them to enjoy a pedicure, manicure or chair massage. What better way to pass the time?!?!

8.Watch the flights take off! You may not be able to leave, but chances are someone is. Enjoy watching the planes arrive and depart from a window or lookout area. Check the map to see if there is a designated observation area for a great view. No matter how many times you see a plane take off and land, it is always amazing!

9.Try a Scavenger Hunt. Make a quick list of items and use your cell phone or digital camera or both to snap photos of the items on your list. This can be as simple or complex as you want to make it.

10.Finally, why not try some car games while sitting at your gate. Maybe you don’t want to walk around, but you can try playing a game of “I Spy” right from your gate.

Whatever you do, be sure to keep a close eye on your flight’s schedule. There are usually monitors throughout the airport with the most current information. Don’t miss that flight!

Here is help with our client's top three most visited airports

Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
Dallas/Fort Worth International is American Airlines’ largest hub and one of the most kid-friendly airports around, thanks to a trio of Junior Flyer Clubs.
One is located in Terminal B, at Gate 12. The 685-square-foot area is aviation themed with runway, roadway, car, airplane, and control tower. The gear is padded, and there’s a place for mom and dad to sit and exercise parental control.
The Terminal C club is at Gate 14. It’s a bit smaller at 600-square feet.
Over in International Terminal D, the Junior Flyer’s Club is at Gate D-30, next to McDonald’s, which makes for a convenient combination. Television monitors in the play areas broadcast the Boomerang channel.
DFW also boasts one of the most bewitching airport rides in the country – Skylink. Ostensibly Skylink is there to connect flyers from one terminal to another. Kids know better. Its prime reason for being is to provide them with a swift, phantasmagorical panorama of one of the busiest airports on the planet. Skylink is free. Just add imagination.

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
Los Angeles International’s Flight Path Learning Center of Southern California chronicles the golden years of commercial aviation. Located adjacent to LAX at 6661West Imperial Highway, you’ll have to leave the airport to get there, but if you’ve got a decent amount of time between flights, it’s worth it. The center features aircraft models, extraordinary aviation displays and free admission. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 3pm

Orlando International Airport (MCO)
Returning home from the theme parks? Stuck at MCO? This airport has plenty to pass the time. First, the art. We don’t mean highbrow, unapproachable art, but stuff that’s accessible by kids. Look for whimsical characters at each level of the parking garage. One kid-favorite is the life-size bronze called The Traveler. It’s on the “A” side of the Hotel Atrium. Gates 100 through 129 are decorated with large floor mosaics of fish, flowers, and ferns. Children love to trace the patterns with their feet, and jump from one image to another. As for real fish, there’s a 3,000-gallon salt-water tank with 100 of the aquatic creatures. You’ll find it in the main terminal food court. On occasion, a diver descends into the airport depths to feed the critters. Orlando has a couple of Kennedy Space Center stores in the main terminal. Kids can actually touch a portion of an asteroid from Mars, and see life-size astronaut models or play with space rocks. The airport’s game room is the Power Arcade. It’s on the South Walk of the Landside Terminal building.