The cart might show up at a gate where there are a large number of passengers. It may stay near the airport’s music stage, where crowds naturally gather, Guy Bruggeman, of the DAL Art & Programming Team, told Stuck at the Airport.
“We’ve done a Lovey where the kids could color and cut out different body parts and glue them to the doll. It’s like a Mr. Potato Head, but flat,” says Bruggeman. “We also use our button-maker and we have a few other art-based activities, including an upcoming event for “World Music Day” (June 21) where the kids can make their own maraca out of a water bottle.”
We think adults will be thankful that kids will have something fun to do at the airport. And we think kids of all ages will want to make art at the DAL airport’s HeART CART.
So we are declaring this the Airport Amenity of the Week.
Have a nomination for next week’s Airport Amenity of the Week? Drop a note in the comments section and we’ll check it out.
The holidays are fast approaching, and that means lots of families will be heading to airports with their kids.
Adults forced to hang out in airports can visit bars, tour shops or treat themselves to a nice meal, but I thought this would be a good time to share some tips I worked up last year for Travel + Leisure about giving kids something to do at the airport beyond crying, whining and getting underfoot at the gates.
Airport or a theme park?
An arcade, a 3,000-gallon aquarium in the Main Terminal food court, a fun fountain and photo-op ready statues of Mickey Mouse, Snow White and other celebrity characters make Orlando International feel more like a theme park than an airport.
Shops for the Kennedy Space Center, Disney, SeaWorld and Universal Orlando offer one last chance for must-have souvenirs. And the top floor of the parking garage is a great spot to watch the area’s nightly theme park fireworks – for free.
Robots and Mr. Rogers
Pittsburgh International Airport entertains children with its freshly refurbished Kidsport area filled with interactive displays, an exhibit honoring the Steel City’s own Fred Rogers and his “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” TV show and a giant Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton.
At Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, the ever-popular “Kids on the Fly” play area in Terminal 2 lets little ones climb on airport-themed toys while, in Terminal 1, a four-story tall, 72-foot long skeleton model of abrachiosaurus looks down from its spot outside the Field Museum.
Kids get exercise and entertainment walking along the 744-foot-long kinetic neon light sculpture in the Terminal 1 underground walkway and a reason to look up “sustainability” after visiting the 26 soil-free plant towers in O’Hare’s aeroponic garden.
Play with pups – or pigs
Teams of adorable, stress-busting therapy dogs wearing “Pet Me!” vests regularly make the rounds at dozens of U.S. airports and the specially-trained pups (and, at SFO, a token pig) are happy to get hugs and kisses from kids.
The pooches will patiently pose for photos and their handlers usually have souvenir trading cards to give out featuring head shots and stats (i.e. age, breed and favorite treats) for each animal.
An airport or a museum?
Many airports stage family-friendly art and history exhibitions year-round. Check your airport’s website for what’s on view when you’re traveling.
Sometimes the best part of hanging out with kids at the airport is the great show put on by the airplanes and the bustle of activity out on the airfield.
Watch from a window seat in a gate area or food court, or head for an airport observation deck.
Baltimore-Washington International Airport has a large pre-security viewing gallery (with exhibits and a snack bar) and there’s a small post-security viewing deck at the entrance to Terminal 2 in Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
Happy Friday. Here’s hoping you have a great weekend of adventures planned.
Here are some travel tidbits that might be useful as you head out on the road.
Air New Zealand has a new in-fligh safety video it is calling “The World’s Coolest” – becuase it was filmed in Antarctica.
Pittsburgh International Airport gets arty
In addition to hosting a new paint-it-yourself art studio called Paint Monkey, Pittsburgh International Airport has appointed its first artist-in-residence. Blaine Siegel will have studio space at the airport for a year and during his residency he’ll interact with travelers and airport workers to better understand the airport environment. He’ll then produce an artwork that will be exhibited at the airport.
Visit museums free this weekend
Thanks to the Museums on Us program, anyone with a Bank of America, Merrill Lynch or U.S. Trust credit or debit card can gain free entry to any of more than 200 museums, science centers and cultural attractions around the country this weekend – and on the first full weekend of every month. The full roster of participating venues can be found here.
Norwegian debuts female-driven in flight comedy channel
Norwegian has put together a female-driven in-flight comedy channel called PYPO (Put Your Pretty On), with Emmy-winner Stephanie Laing, that will be available on the airlines’ Dreamliner long-haul flights. The channel will start with seven comedy sketches, totaling about 20 minutes, with more to come later this year.
As a reminder that every terminal at New York’s JFK airport is pretty much its own world, JFK Terminal 4 now has its own website featuring an interactive terminal map, current information about security and taxi wait times, a FAQ section and tourist information. (T4 also has its own Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts).
At Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, a pop-up lounge just for kids (and their parents) is moving through the terminals.
Called the “Fly with Butch O’Hare” lounge, it’s described as a place to relax, take selfies, re-charge cell phones and devices and to learn about the Fly with Butch O’Hare mobile game the airport developed in collaboration with DeVry University.
First, who was Butch O’Hare? He’s the airport’s namesake, Edward “Butch” O’Hare – and this year marks the 75th anniversary of Butch O’Hare’s heroic actions in World War II, saving the aircraft carrier Lexington.
He was honored with the Navy’s first Medal of Honor, and in 1949 Chicago’s airport, Orchard Field was renamed Chicago O’Hare in his honor.
The lounge is outfitted with chairs and foot stools, cell phone charging stations, the airport code in 8 – f00t-tall letters, orange flooring and a miniature plane flying overhead with – you guessed it – Butch O’Hare.
There’s also an almost life-size cut-out of O’Hare and a plane – for selfies.
ORD is also giving out flat photos of Butch O’Hare (on a stick) in the lounge and at bins in the domestic terminals and encouraging passengers to pose with the flat Butch O’Hare while in the airport or and around the world and post their photos online with the hashtag #FlyWithButchOHare.
Looking for the lounge? It’s in Terminal 1, near Gate B12 through August 9 and then moving to Terminal 2, near Gate E1, from August 10 through 31.
Would you pay extra to be able to scoot your seat away from small kids on a plane? Singapore Airlines’ budget carrier, Scoot, is betting you will.
The airline, which currently flies from Singapore to 11 destinations in Asia and Australia, has created a premium “Scoot in Silence” section at the front of its economy class cabin.
There, passengers can pay about $14 extra per ticket in exchange for more legroom and the promise that “the under 12s will be someplace else.”
“I’d pay to sit in an adults-only section,” said Keri Coull, an “unemployed mum/graduate” from San Francisco now living in Scotland. She thinks others would too. “I loved my 2 1/2 year-old, but returning from Mexico was traumatic for other passengers.”
Scoot is not the first Asian airline to set aside a cabin section that is off limits to kids.
In February 2013, long-haul, low-cost carrier AirAsia X introduced a kid-free “Quiet Zone” on its aircraft. And last year Malaysia Airlines declared the upper decks of its A380s kid-free. The airline also bans kids from its first class cabins.
“These quiet zones are part of a wider trend that sees airlines providing passengers more choice and control of the onboard experience without having to pay a lot to upgrade to a different class,” said Raymond Kollau of Amsterdam-based AirlineTrends.com.
Of course, in the close quarters of an airplane, a quiet zone can be hard to define.
“What about the passenger seated in the last row of the kid-free section when an infant begins screaming behind him or her?” said Anya Clowers of JetwithKids.com.
For now, representatives from American and Delta said they have no plans to introduce kid-free zones. And the no-kids-allowed idea “doesn’t quite fit the overall familial vision Lufthansa is embracing,” said Christina Semmel, the airline’s corporate communications manager for North America. (In fact, the airline recently introduced new family and kid-friendly amenities, including boarding passes — but no special seating — for stuffed animals and dolls.)
But in the modern unbundled-amenities world of airlines, having the “opportunity” to pay to sit outside a kid zone on a domestic carrier may just be a matter of time.
“I can see airlines such as United and Delta, who already offer separate zones with extra legroom seats, trialing whether they can turn part of these zones into a quiet zone, depending on the configuration of the aircraft,” said Kollau.
The audience rushing to buy these seats might be business travelers, who are “universally in favor of kid-free zones,” said Joe Brancatelli, who runs the business traveler newsletter JoeSentMe. “(At least) until they have kids and are banished to the kid zone when they cash-in miles to take the family on holiday.”
(My story: “Scoot in silence”: Singapore Air budget carrier offers kid-free zone first appeared on NBC News Travel)