Airports Need to Bring It. Improving Airport Facilities for Families

Airports are built with the sole purpose of people being able to arrive and depart. Their sole purpose is for people to pass through it. They have thousands of people visiting them every week, day and every hour in some destinations. Why then are they not designed for people to amuse themselves and pass the time between flights in comfort?

Airports need to bring it in my mind

Airports around the world need to give some thought to improving facilities for families. Facilities need to be more than a baby change table as the facilities for family travellers. They need to provide a whole lot more if they want the increasingly savvy family travel crowd to spend their money and want to return. Oh yes, happy customers spend more – look at Disneyland, people are happy to spend money there!

Travelling through airports with kids can be intense. They are busy places and they are not designed with kids who have been stocking energy since they left their departure point.

Still it is relatively easy to get a good stretch in an airport. I’m completely okay with finding a bit of floor and doing some yoga poses and stretching. In fact I prefer to sit in the position if I’m not walking around as it is certainly a change to airline seats. Of course those in business and first class need not worry.

Moving footpaths are great for releasing energy

We must have ridden on one at Singapore about 10 times.  I used my smartphone stopwatch and set a challenge – beat your last time. Seriously burns off energy. At Singapore, the gates are closed prior to a time before your flight so you can find nearly a whole wing of gates that are partitioned off that is only in use for when there is a flight. There were therefore footpaths not being used and we could create our own indoor activities without disturbing too many people. Surprising to find areas with no people in such a big airport. The gates are away from the shops and the food outlets.

Access to charge points and WiFi

Most airports will now have recharging hubs and wifi hotspots to keep you in the loop. Allowing you to catch up on what’s happening on Facebook or whatever it is you do on Wifi. For me it was uploading photos and saving data.

Why is it so hard to pass the time in places that are built for people to transit through? Why have they not been designed to allow customers a fabulous experience for their entire trip not just once they get to their destination? Airports need to bring it.

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Singapore

Singapore airport is massive and has several terminals. Don’t get put off about staying in your terminal while you wait for your plane. The terminals are about 10 minutes’ walk between them. There is shopping galore, a butterfly farm, a sunflower garden (which is full of smokers) a movie theatre (but having got off a plane full of movies and about to get onto another – not sure this is something you want to do) in the past there has been a pool and a large slide for adults.

The pool was being renovated and the slide seems to of been removed. The point is however, that the owners recognise people spend a considerable amount of time here and they need to provide facilities accordingly. As far as I can tell, Singapore is leading the world with facilities for travellers – most other airports don’t bother. There is still so much potential of what they could do. With so much space the opportunities are endless.

Singapore won the World’s Top Airport Award in 2016 and 2017. I am not sure what that means or how it is judged – but they are apparently the best. Click here for more information on the Top 100 Airports. Given the report has Brisbane airport above Sydney, I can’t have any faith I am sorry. I get Sydney is under construction but Brisbane? Come on? But they are also the world’s largest airport in relation to total number of passengers.

Munich

Munich is the world’s number three according to my above reference. They have just undertaken a huge redesign of the airport and they are committed to including children in their redesign. Click here for more information. A choice of themed world’s and a 6 metre high slide added to already having dedicated areas throughout the airport. For Munich Airport the “smallest passengers are a big priority.” sounds great to me! munich airport USA Today munuch airport

Photos courtesy for USAToday and Munich-airport.de

Dubai

Dubai, now here is a company managing an airport that understand that ‘while you are there’ there are several things they may need to provide for you. They have a dedicated children’s play area with family amenities. There is an interactive games area and a climbing zone designed to burn off energy whilst in transit.

London Airport

London Airport is rated number 8 and is one of the busiest airports in the world. I am certain they cannot claim Seoul’s low rate of baggage lost as I have had my luggage delayed several times passing through here. Click here for London airports Children’s Facilities details. If I was you, I would be making a bee line to get away from this airport as soon as possible with little ones.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles is a massive airport and there are several terminals. With 8 terminals and an International terminal it is huge. I cannot for the life of me understand why there aren’t more facilities and amenities beyond food and shopping for passengers. Flight Path Museum? Theme Building and Observation Deck? That’s as good as it gets. Otherwise the instructions are – go to a nearby beach for long layovers.

The United States, world leader in the customer’s experience. Really? There is a play area but good luck with finding it. Anytime I arrive in LAX will be after a long flight so I will not need to stay at the airport too long. I will be getting out of there to a ‘nearby beach’ I can’t help thinking of all the possibilities of what could be.

Read here for a better link, despite the link above claiming to be the official one. The Top 100 Airports 2016 rate Los Angeles as 91 and yet they are the 6th largest in regards to total passengers. Time to lift their game if you ask me. I’ll be there in 2 weeks so I can update you as to what they are lacking.

Seoul

Incheon International Airport (Seoul) is the world’s number two. I have not been to Korea and it is a fair way down my bucket list but given the facilities at the airport it is very appealing to fly into this airport. Have a look at some of the facilities listed below. GOLF???

The airport has a golf course, spa, private sleeping rooms, ice-skating rink, a casino, indoor gardens and a Museum of Korean Culture. Airport authorities claim that average departure and arrival takes 19 minutes and 12 minutes respectively, as compared to worldwide average of 60 minutes and 45 minutes respectively, ranking it among of the fastest airports in the world for customs processing. Its duty-free shopping mall has been rated the world’s best for three years in a row in 2013 by Business Traveller. Incheon International Airport also claims that it has only a 0.0001% baggage mishandling rate. Source Wikipedia.

Clean is good. No lost luggage is better and greatly reduced arrivals and departures are awesome. Go Korea.

 Airports Need to Bring

Seat on wheels - great for gates that are miles away
Seat on wheels – great for gates that are miles away

Airports Need to Bring Airports Need to Bring Airports Need to Bring

What would you like to see in an airport?

Wouldn’t you like to see an indoor park and play area in every airport? Would you not like to see public amenities such as showers that you don’t have to pay huge fees to access a lounge to use? Would you not like to see indoor activities where all passengers can stretch their legs and enjoy their time – perhaps encouraging them to come back?

Why do they treat airports with such disregard for the experience? People can spend huge amounts of time there. I don’t understand. I’m making a call for all the world’s companies managing airports to rise to my challenge. Create something exciting and something refreshing. Make your huge, sterile empty spaces an unforgettable experience. Be more. Be better.

Here are my suggestions

An outdoor area where you can watch the planes and enjoy the outside space.

  • Gardens relax people and make them calm.
  • Interactive gaming zone
  • Family showers rooms
  • Treadmills and other gym equipment
  • Local cultural education zones
  • Shopping
  • Wifi and charging bars for all electronics.
  • Inflatable sofa’s rented for a price to cover cleaning costs
  • Quiet zones for sleeping toddlers and babies complete with black out blinds and soothing music.
  • Interactive ways of connecting with passengers – scavenger hunt or prize hunt throughout the airport. Geocaching of sorts?
  • Yoga mats for a good stretch
Here is a simplified table for your reference
2016 rating TOP 100 Airports 2015 rating Busiest Airports – total passengers The Economist Pocket World in Figures 2016 Edition 2014 figures
1 Singapore Changi 1 Atlanta, Hartsfield 1
2 Incheon Intl Airport 2 Beijing, Capital 2
3 Munich Airport 3 London, Heathrow, 3
4 Tokyo Intl Haneda 5 Tokyo, Haneda 4
5 Hong Kong Intl Airport 4 Dubai International 5
6 Centrair Airport 7 Chicago, O’Hare

Los Angeles, International

6
7 Zurich Airport 6
8 London Heathrow 8 Dallas, Fort Worth 8
9 Kansai Intl Airport 12 Paris, Charles de Gaulle 9
10 Doha Hamad Airport 22 Hong Kong, International 10
11 Narita Intl Airport 14 Frankfurt, Main 11
12 Frankfurt Airport 13 Istanbul, Ataturk 12
13 Amsterdam Schiphol 9 Jakarta, Soekamo-Hatta 13
14 Vancouver Airport 11 Amsterdam, Schipol 14
15 Helsinki Airport 18 Guangzhou Baiyun, International 15

Have a look at the above table and look at the airports moving the highest number of passengers. The top three airports are not even in the top 15 for total number of passengers. Perhaps it pays to have fewer people to move through to enable you to give better service.

What do you think airports should be providing? Let us know your thoughts. What airports have you had great experiences at and what airports will you try your best to never see ever again?

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