Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
The Most Kid-friendly U.S. Airports [2023 Data Study & Survey]
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While flying with kids can be an exciting adventure for the whole family, it can also present unique challenges for everyone involved. As parents, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable journey for our little ones is a top priority, even within the confines of an airport.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ve surveyed parents and compiled information from airport websites, including terminal maps and dedicated pages for traveling with children, to uncover which airports are the kid-friendliest and help you make informed decisions to experience stress-free travel.
These airports have gone above and beyond to accommodate the needs of young travelers and their families. From engaging play areas and interactive exhibits to family-friendly dining options and convenient facilities for nursing and diaper-changing, they prioritize the comfort and well-being of families on the go.
Find out which airports made it onto our list below!
- Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) ranks as the best U.S. airport for kid-friendly travel. Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) ranks the lowest.
- 49% of parents would say that traveling with their kids is an overwhelming experience
- 1 in 4 Americans travel much less after becoming a parent.
- According to parents, the most important airport amenities for traveling with children are access to fast Wi-Fi and the number of available device charging stations.
With help from our survey of parents, we were able to compile a list of airports ranked according to categories they say are must-haves when traveling with their young ones. From play areas to Wi-Fi speeds, we delve into the airports that excel and those that fall short in terms of being kid-friendly below.
The Most Kid-friendly Airports in the U.S.
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) stands out as the most kid-friendly airport. LAX offers excellent amenities for families, including an average Wi-Fi download speed of 157 Mbps, the highest overall.
Additionally, LAX provides plenty of charging stations, ensuring easy access to power for electronic devices. It also has 3 lounges with family rooms, offering one of the highest concentrations of family-friendly spaces in our study.
The only aspect where LAX performs below average is the number of nursing rooms given its size. However, parents will be pleased to know that the airport does have a designated play area for children on level 4 of the international terminal, suitable for 2- to 11-year-olds.
LaGuardia Airport (LGA) secures the second spot in the ranking, offering several positive features for families. For example, LaGuardia also provides ample nursing facilities for parents with infants.
Moreover, LGA boasts plenty of restaurants and restrooms. Although it falls short when it comes to charging station access, LGA compensates with 2 designated play areas for kids. Both of these are located in Terminal B, near gate 24 and the central area of gates 40 to 59.
Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) ranks third among the most kid-friendly airports. BOS has plenty of family restrooms throughout its terminals, ensuring convenience and comfort for parents and children.
With 3 designated play areas for children, BOS offers multiple spaces for little ones to unwind and play during layovers. The children’s play areas are located in Terminal A near gate A18, in Terminal B on the way to gates B30 and B36, and in Terminal C near gate C25.
The airport also maintains a relatively low passenger density (estimated daily passengers in relation to airport size), creating a more relaxed atmosphere. However, BOS falls slightly behind for children glued to the screen. Its average Wi-Fi download speed of 59 Mbps is about 23% slower than the airport average in our study.
The Least Kid-friendly Airports in the U.S.
Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) is the least kid-friendly airport in our study. RSW lacks many family essentials, including lounges with family rooms, listed family restrooms, and kid-friendly entertainment options beyond designated play areas.
The mean Wi-Fi download speed is only 7.5 Mbps, one of the lowest in the study. However, RSW does have plenty of nursing rooms compared to its size and maintains a low passenger density.
Denver International Airport (DEN) falls into the category of the least kid-friendly airports due to its limited facilities for families. It offers very few nursing rooms and family restrooms for its size, among the lowest in the country. Charging stations are also scarce compared to the airport’s size.
DEN compensates for some of its shortcomings with a relatively low passenger density compared to other busy airports. It also received an average lounge rating of 3.6 out of 5, although only 2 of its lounges feature family rooms. Unfortunately, DEN does not have any designated play areas for kids.
Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW) ranks third in our list of least kid-friendly airports. MDW boasts the lowest on-time flight percentage in the study at 60%, which may cause inconvenience for families on vacation. The airport also has a higher passenger density and lacks lounges with family rooms and additional kid-friendly entertainment options.
Despite its flaws, MDW does offer many family restrooms and maintains a fast Wi-Fi download speed of 105 Mbps. There are also plenty of dining options available.
Traveling With Children, According to Their Parents
When going on a trip, parents face numerous challenges, particularly when they decide to bring their children along. We surveyed parents from all over the country to gather insights regarding their experiences and emotions when traveling with their little ones. Let’s review what they shared.
Surprisingly, parents prefer to take their children on excursions whenever possible, as many prioritize including their children in travel arrangements. Around 38% of parents say they frequently bring their kids along when traveling, while another 37% claim they always do so.
Preparing for a trip demands time and effort — something parents are painfully aware of. On average, parents spend slightly less than an hour (approximately 58 minutes) packing for a trip when they travel without their children. However, this time doubles to an average of 117 minutes when they have their little ones with them.
When faced with a choice between different modes of transportation, most parents say they prefer shorter flights instead of lengthy road trips. A remarkable 71% of parents say they would rather endure a 2.5-hour flight and far fewer “Are we there yets?” from their kids than embark on a challenging 12-hour road trip.
It’s widely known that traveling with kids can be difficult for many parents. Nearly half, or 49%, of the surveyed parents, described traveling with their children as an overwhelming experience.
Parenthood undoubtedly brings change to every aspect of life, and travel is no exception. A significant proportion of parents (34%) reported slightly reducing their travel frequency since having children, while 25% said they travel much less. We found that 3 out of every 5 individuals are likely to adjust their travel plans to accommodate the demands of parenthood.
To capture the essence of traveling with kids, we asked parents to summarize their experiences in just 1 word. The most common responses included “stressful,” “fun,” “hectic,” and “exciting” — all words that encompass the diverse range of emotions and experiences that parents encounter while embarking on memorable journeys with their youngsters.
Hey Kids, Wanna Go on a Plane Ride?
Traveling with kids in the air can be an exciting (and exhausting) adventure. Whether you’re jetting off to a family vacation or visiting loved ones during the holidays, it’s important to consider the needs of your little ones during the journey. Let’s take a closer look at some interesting statistics and insights on traveling with kids through airports.
When it comes to the best airports for traveling with kids, opinions seem to differ. Surprisingly, Orlando International Airport (MCO), often associated with family-friendly destinations, ranks fifth worst among the 25 largest U.S. airports. Despite this, many people still perceive it as the best family option.
Taking advantage of airport amenities that cater to children’s needs is essential to ensuring a smooth travel experience. The parents in our survey shared some airport must-haves that are crucial for traveling with kids:
Fast and reliable Wi-Fi is a top priority for 78% of parents. Staying connected allows families to keep children entertained with their favorite shows, games, or activities during layovers or delays.
Nearly 75% of parents emphasize the importance of charging stations at airports. With electronic devices playing a significant role in keeping children engaged, having accessible charging points ensures that gadgets remain powered throughout the journey.
Interestingly, only 37% of parents consider play areas in airports important for their kids. While airports with dedicated spaces for children can offer opportunities for physical activity and play, it appears that this aspect is not a top concern for most parents.
Similarly, only 34% of parents feel that having ample nursing rooms at airports is necessary. Surprisingly, this sentiment remains consistent across genders, with 35% of mothers and 33% of fathers emphasizing the significance of nursing facilities.
When it comes to the behavior of their own children during flights, the majority of parents view them as “good flyers.” A whopping 89% of parents who have flown with their children consider their little ones to handle air travel well.
However, not all experiences are without their challenges. Among parents who have flown with their kids previously, 64% admit to feeling annoyed with someone else’s children on a flight.
In 2022, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) made a significant move by urging airlines to refrain from imposing additional charges on passengers who wished to sit with their children aged 13 and younger during flights. This measure aims to address the concerns of parents flying with children to ensure a comfortable journey for their families.
A substantial number of parents, approximately 82%, expressed their willingness to make ticket-purchasing decisions based on the availability of seats next to each other. For most parents, the comfort and security of sitting with their children outweigh the cost considerations. On the other hand, approximately 18% of parents opted for cheaper tickets, even if it meant not sitting together with their children.
To determine the best and worst airports when it comes to kid-friendly travel, we started with a list of the 45 busiest U.S. airports and ranked them from 1 to 45 based on factors that would be important for parents traveling with their children.
We collected data for each airport on things like play areas, nursing rooms, and Wi-Fi speeds, gave them a score based on how they stack up with the rest of the airports, weighted them based on their importance, and summed those individual factor scores to create a final total score metric.
We then surveyed over 800 parents to get insights into how they feel about traveling with their kids in general. We asked them questions about the most important airport amenities for family travel, which we used to advise the weights used in our ranking.
Traveling with children can be a thrilling experience for the entire family, but it comes with its own set of challenges. However, by surveying parents and gathering information from airport websites, we were able to identify a selection of airports that go the extra mile to cater to the needs of young travelers and their families.
Whether you’re no stranger to family air travel or planning your first trip with your little ones, you can make informed decisions and enjoy stress-free travel, even with your kids.
With the right preparation and knowledge, families can embark on their travel adventures with confidence, creating lasting memories along the way.
Featured Image Credit: Upgraded Points
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