30 March 2007

How to keep your kids entertained during airport delays

Vacation season's here. Here's how Margaret dealt with a canceled flight:

After a weather cancellation, a rebooking, a canceled rebooking, and eventually going standby, we made it home from a recent trip three days late. So, my daughter and I spent a lot of time in the airport!  Here's some ways to pass the time.

1.  If your child can read and/or pick out letters, when you're in the airport restaurant, tell her what you'd like to eat and then see if she can find it on the menu.

2.  Airports often have artwork or historical displays.  Why not take a look and find out why they're there?

3.  Look at the arrival/departure boards and point out the names of cities you've been to and remember those trips.

4.  Explore one of the shops and then discuss why it's set up the way it is.  Why is breakable stuff behind the counter?  Why do they put the candy right by the cash registers?  (If your child is anything like mine, and could be said to be taking the delay better than her accompanying parent, you might consider springing for a small treat.)

5.  Make a list of all the ways an airport is different when travel is suspended, such as empty baggage claim, no security line, long line at the restaurant, and so on.

6.  Play a few games on your laptop.

7.  When you're waiting in the long line to see what can be done about getting on another flight, strike up a conversation with the people in line with you.  In a situation like that, everybody has a good story!

Related: More suggestions for killing time during airport delays


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Ah yes. We like to explore the terminals too, we are usually in big airports like Atlanta/Denver/Orlando/etc. so there is plenty to see and do. My little guy would have been happy running up and down the concourse for three hours, actually ;). We also watched movies on the laptop.

Since my husband works for Delta Airlines, we travel a lot, but also get stuck in airports. In my experience, the kids handle airports much better than adults. I suggest packing plenty of snacks and diapers (we ran out once, it was bad). We take shelf-stable whole milk and she loves it. In fact, SS milk is good for everything, and my favorite snack hack.

The kid loves to watch the airplanes take off and all the people in the airport. She isn't quite big enough for games, but will try and find a car or a plane or a person.

My biggest suggestion, make the best of it. And don't yell at the gate people. They are nicer when you are nicer. Eventually, you will get home and have a good story to laugh about. I am still working on this, but man, I have some great stories.

If your child is in the right age bracket (old enough to know how to do it safely, young enough to still be enthralled by them), find some little used escalators to ride. DD and I recently spent a good 45 minutes on a set of escalators at the far end of the airport. Up and down, up and down, up and down....

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