Why should airports do anything for the goons who bring small children on a plane ride? We parents are asking for trouble just by setting foot in the airport, and now we also want play areas. First we expect preferential treatment like early boarding, and now THIS.
To be clear, I'm not complaining that airports don't always have fantastic play areas and kid friendly zones. It's true that, by choosing to fly with tots, I'm signing up for a certain amount of misery. However, given the choice, sometimes I'd be willing to pay another $10 on my ticket if it means I'll be routed through a fun place where my kids can get their wiggles out, rather than a yucky, smoke-filled airport with no seating and dirty floors. It's hard to find enough information to make these decisions, however, so I started a blog to help my fellow travelers. Please let me know what you think!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Narita International Airport (Tokyo) (4 stars)

For my first post, I've decided to review the Narita International Airport in Tokyo. My last visit there was in July, 2009. Overall I give Narita 4 stars for kid-friendliness-- they've done a great job. Here is the breakdown:

Are there one or more play areas? yes-- at least 4.

Is there one in every terminal, after passport control? yes

Are play areas conveniently located?  yes, they're scattered liberally around the airport so that you never have to walk far to get to one.

Is there information about the play areas available online? yes, at http://www.narita-airport.jp/en

Are maps clearly labeled to make finding the play areas easy? yes-- there's a soccer ball symbol.

Are there one or more nursing areas? yes, attached to most of the play areas.

Description: The play areas are clean, if a little small. There are private restrooms and diaper change areas in the enclosed play areas, although one play area (pictured at the right) is not enclosed (except by those cushios) and seems just haphazardly placed next to a moving walkway and some departure gates.  It's super convenient for last-minute playing if you're departing from those gates, but a little tough to keep the tinier kids confined to it.

There is an interesting little origami "museum," which is basically just a display of various origami (two examples pictured at the left). It was entertaining for my boys and I think would entertain a wide range of kids for a short while.

There is a fantastic lounge/ relaxing area with comfortable chairs.

Overall, Narita airport had a relatively great set of offerings for the kids. Only two things would have made it better: First, an interactive/ hands-on cultural experience similar to what is offered in Seoul, South Korea would be a nice touch. Second, there were a lot of stuffed animals and books in the play areas. A climbing or playground style area is better for getting out the wiggles, and easier to maintain.

1 comment:

  1. Love this! I am traveling alone with a 6,4,and 2 year old on a 22 hour flight! Our layover in Japan is 4 hours - this will be a life saver for us!