When I walked into this bright playroom at Zurich Airport, it was hard to tell who was happier:
Two-year old Mattia, who was happily playing with the toys and stuffed animals in the room, or his dad, Stefano Schiavon, who was sitting quietly watching his son play.
“We flew in from Washington and have a long layover before our flight to Venice,” said Shiavon, “When I found the airport had this play area, I almost cried.”
Who could blame him?
Lots of airports have small play areas for children. In the United States, these spaces range from a corner with an activity table or two to larger spaces, such as O’Hare’s Kids on the Fly center, with aviation-themed climbing structures.
Zurich Airport not only has special play areas for children, the free facilities have lockers, lots of toys and dolls, books, computer games, painting supplies and building sets.
A separate room is a nursery, with diaper-changing tables, baby care products, cribs and rooms for breastfeeding. There’s also a kitchenette with a hotplate, microwave oven and cutlery so parents can fix a snack for their kids.
The staff on duty is multilingual and there to make sure to make sure everyone is playing safely and to help out with flight information and assist with minor problems.
“Parents must stay with their children. It’s not a daycare,” my airport guide told me, “People can’t leave their kids here and go off shopping or on a 10-day trip.”
Although you can see how they may be tempted….
Zurich Airport has two Family Service areas:
In the Transit A area, between the entrance to gates 60-69. Hours: daily, 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m;
and on Pier E, level 3, above gate E45. Hours: 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.