family travel

A great airport amenity for kids (and short people)

We’re heading into another few weeks of record-breaking holiday travel and on our last few flights it seemed everyone was sick.

As the Centers for Disease Control – and your mother – will tell you, keeping your hands clean and washing them often with soap and clean, running water is one of the most important steps to take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.

But in some public restrooms, the height of the sinks presents a hand-washing challenge to kids and short people.

That’s why the Stuck at the Airport hygiene team is delighted every time we encounter one of the Step ‘n Wash self-retracting step stools in an airport restroom.

At last count, close to 100 airports around the country have installed these handy stools in some or all of their restrooms. So keep an eye out for them when you’re traveling this season.

Free bike rentals at Singapore’s Changi Airport

It’s only Monday, but we already have a nomination for Airport Amenity of the Week.

Singapore’s Changi Airport, which already wows travelers with free amenities that include butterfly and cactus gardens, movie theaters, and the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, now offers free bicycle rentals to passengers with layovers in Singapore.

The year-long program offers layover passengers free two-hour use of a bicycle to explore outdoor attractions in the airport’s vicinity, including the Jurassic Mile, a free outdoor display of more than 20 life-sized dinosaurs and pre-historic creatures that stretch out over half a mile.

Layover passengers can cycle along the Changi Airport Connector cycling path that links to Singapore’s wider park connector network and visit beaches, Bedok Jetty – a popular fishing spot, the East Coast Lagoon Hawker Centre and nearby residential neighborhoods

To make it easy to explore Singapore on a layover, the airport has mapped out four different routes lasting two to six hours and provides pay-per-use shower facilities by the bike return point.

Want to go for a bike ride on your Changi Airport layover?

To take advantage of Changi Airport’s free bike rentals, you’ll need to have a layover of at least 5 1/2 hours but less than 24 hours between flights.

Advance reservations for free bike rentals at Singapore’s Changi Airport are available here.

(Photos courtesy Changi Airport Group)

Stuck at the Airport? Get a coloring book.

Today is National Coloring Book Day.

Coloring is a great travel activity for kids and adults and can reduce the stress of waiting at the airport or spending hours on a plane.

Many airports offer free aviation-themed coloring books (and sometimes colored pencils) at information booths in the terminals or on their websites, where individual pages can easily be downloaded.

Many have pages of airplanes that can be colored and an assortment of games.

Here are some examples. Check the website of your favorite airport to see if they’ve got a coloring book too. And let us know if we missed your airport’s coloring book so we can add it.

Chicago Airports Coloring Book

Click here to download a coloring book for Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway Airports.

Here’s a link to a coloring book put together by the Texas Commercial Airports Association.

Below is one of the pages from Denver International Airport’s Camp Den page, where we also found these cute-but-corny-flying jokes.

  • Why is Peter Pan always flying? Because he can never, never land.
  • I put my phone in airplane mode but it wouldn’t fly!
  • Why did the students study in the airplane? They wanted higher grades.
  • What kind of chocolate do they sell at the airport? Plane chocolate.
  • What travels around the world but stays in one corner? A stamp.
  • What do you call a space pilot who lives dangerously? Han YOLO.
  • What do you get when you cross an airplane with a magician? A flying sorcerer.

NASA has free coloring pages too

Head here to find a galaxy of free coloring pages from NASA.

Travel Tidbits From An Airport Near You

Courtesy Portland International Airport

Cool New Kids’ Play Area at Portland International Airport

The family travel team at Stuck at the Airport knows that traveling with kids can be trying.

That’s why we’re delighted to see airports adding or refreshing play areas with creative and engaging features.

The latest on the scene is at Portland International Airport (PDX). There, the Tillamook County Creamery Association has created a cool new kids’ play area on Concourse E.

The 600-square-foot space has steps, slides, and a flying van designed with children ages 3 to 8 – and people of all abilities – in mind. The bouncy flooring is made from post-consumer recycled materials and the mural on the wall is by illustrator Josephine Rais.

The Tillamook Market, also on Concourse E, serves up meals made with Tillamook’s famous cheese and other locally-sourced ingredients, scoops of Tillamook ice cream, exclusive branded merch, and grab-and-go favorites including famous Tillamook Cheese Curds.

Freshful Fridge at Santa Barbara Airport

Stuck at the Airport is 100% in favor of healthy food options at all airports.

And we’re big fans of the Farmer’s Fridge salad vending machines offering fresh meals at more than 20 airports.

The trend is growing.

Santa Barbara Airport (SBA) has a new Freshful Fridge vending machine filled with locally-sourced snacks, salads, and beverages. Look for it in the SBA baggage claim area on the first floor.

More Limits at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport

For a while now, Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS) has been placing caps on the number of departing passengers and flights. The action is an effort to deal with staff shortages that are causing long lines, canceled flights, and giant baggage backups.

KLM, Schiphol’s biggest customer, and a handful of other airlines aren’t happy about those flight caps and have filed a suit against Schiphol.

Now comes word that Schiphol will further restrict flights in an effort to reduce noise pollution.

Beginning “no later than 2025 – 26,” Schiphol will ban aircraft takeoffs between midnight and 6 am and all aircraft landings between midnight and 5 am.

Private jets and the noisiest airplanes will no longer be welcome at Schiphol. And plans for an additional runway are being scrapped.

We need to be sustainable for our employees, the local environment, and the world,” said Ruud Sondag, Royal Schiphol Group CEO. “I realize that our choices may have significant implications for the aviation industry, but they are necessary. This shows we mean business.”

KLM said in a statement that while it believes “operations should be in balance with our surroundings and the climate,” the airline is “astonished” that Schiphol is “unilaterally putting forward proposals that will have far-reaching consequences for airlines, without involving the industry parties in this process.”

Instead, KLM said, it would prefer “to work with the rest of the aviation industry on developing further measures to reduce CO2 emissions and noise pollution.”

United Airlines Promises Families They Can Sit Together

Traveling with kids and want to make sure you get to sit together?

Airline seating policies and fees for choosing seats often make that a frustrating, sometimes impossible, and expensive undertaking.

President Biden ragged on airlines for this practice during his State of the Union address in early February

And in July the US Department of Transporation issued a notice encouraging US airlines “to do everything in their power to ensure that children who are age 13 or younger are seated next to an accompanying adult with no additional charge.”

Airlines Beginning to Pay Attention

On Monday United Airlines announced a new plan to make it easier for parents and children under 12 years old to sit next to each other without paying an extra fee. That includes passengers who purchase Basic Economy Tickets,

The airline said the policy will extend to customers who purchase Basic Economy tickets. That category usually doesn’t allow seats to be assigned until boarding.

United says a new seat map feature that finds available adjacent seats at the time of booking makes this new policy possible. The seat map program will first review all available free Economy seats and then opens complimentary upgrades to available Preferred seats if needed, according to United.

Other airlines may follow suit by adjusting their policies to follow United’s lead.

For now, Delta Air Lines’ website says the carrier “strives to seat family members together upon request” and urges passengers who can’t find seats together to contact Reservations for help.

American Airlines’ website says”if you’re unable to choose seats, don’t want to pay for seats, or chose a Basic Economy fare, our system will detect that you’re a family traveling. The system will search for seats together automatically before the day of departure. We’ll try our best to keep you together, but if seats are limited, we’ll assign seats so children under 15 are next to at least 1 adult.”

Alaska Airlines’ site states that “if are unable to obtain seat assignments together for your family, we will make every effort to seat at least one adult with any young child (age 13 and under) from the same party.”

Like other carriers, JetBlue’s statement on family seating urges families to book early. But says “if seats together are not available, please let our airport gate crewmembers know when you arrive at the airport. They will do their best to find a seating solution. We cannot guarantee that seats together will always be available.”