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!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Seoul-Incheon International Airport (5 stars)

South Korea's main airport is hands-down the most family-friendly airport I've ever been to.  Who would have thought it?  It is the only airport I will give a solid five-star rating to, unequivocally.   According to their website there's an observation deck as well as numerous gardens, but we've never gone to them because we're so busy in the numerous play and craft areas.  Read on for more:

Are there one or more play areas?  Yes, tons!  There are at least 3 playground-style play areas in the main terminal, and another fun "ball-pit" style one in terminal 2, and another enclosed play area in the relaxation and massage area on the 4th floor.

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

Is the play area conveniently located? absolutely, you never have to walk far to get to one.

Is there information about the play areas available online? yes, but it's difficult to find.  This could use some improvement.

Are maps clearly labeled to make finding the play areas easy? yes, they have a little nursery symbol (bottle) and a play symbol (teddy bear)

Are there one or more nursing areas?  yes


Description:   First of all, all the play areas are clean and well maintained.  The playground ones are right by the gates, very convenient.  The ball pit one is still not far from gates in terminal 2.  Also, when the kids get tired of playing, there are some wonderful cultural "experience" areas, where you can try your hand at some traditional Korean games and crafts or even get your picture taken in Korean clothing.  Upstairs, near the massage area and yet another play area, there's a cultural museum as well.

No television sets hyping up the kids, and the play areas have never been crowded.  Nice added bonus:  one of the duty free shops has a good saltwater aquarium (it goes along with a makeup line)-- also a good diversion.  We now head out to the airport hours early, because we know the kids will be entertained and have plenty of opportunity to wear themselves out before we take off.  More pictures below...

 More pictures of the "ball pit" style area in Terminal 2:

Playground-style play area by the gates (pictured at the left)... there are several of these in the main terminal.

Stop by tomorrow to see what I have to say about Frankfurt!

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