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Back in the pre-kid days, the airport lounges were my oasis. No crowded, noisy terminals – just a peaceful place where you could have a snack, read or get some work done. I would renew my membership to the Delta Sky Club annually and, between their lounges and partner lounges, I made full use of my membership. And, then I had kids…
I have never officially seen any rules excluding children from airport lounges but that doesn’t mean we haven’t gotten some looks when we stroll in with our three (possibly very jet lagged or up past their bedtime) children. Here are some of the considerations and best practices for when we take our children into the lounges.
Getting Into the Lounge
Depending on what class of service we are flying, there may be an additional fee to get our whole family in (if we’re in business class, it is usually included in the ticket). My husband and I fly for business so we each have lounge access through our Delta Reserve Card from American Express (don’t let the annual fee scare you, the perks make up for the fee very quickly). We do get guest passes annually as well. If we don’t use the guest pass, we can pay a per person fee for guests so we usually look at the time we would spend in the lounge and assess whether it would be worthwhile. With a tight layover, we will usually skip it but, if we have hours, we will usually do it so we can access to a clean, comfortable space with food and drinks. The bathrooms are much nicer and some lounges even have showers.
I have also never had an issue with a changing table in a lounge and it doesn’t feel as rushed as when you’re in the family restroom. For nursing moms, I have also been able to find a quieter spot to nurse in the lounges that felt more private and cleaner than in the terminal.
Finding a Spot
Out of a courtesy to those on calls or doing work, we usually try to find corner of the lounge where we can let the kids have a little more freedom without getting in the way. For the older kids, will find them a chair, get them a snack/drink and sign-into the wi-fi on their tablets. Usually, this keeps them occupied and quiet. For babies and toddlers, it does require a bit more strategy. When my son was not mobile, I would put a disposable pad and then a blanket so a clean place to play. As he has gotten older (and louder), we usually try to be by a window with a view of the runway or gates. He loves watching the world go by – easy entertainment!
One other tip is that, if there is another family in the lounge already (even if kids are older or younger), we will purposely sit near them. There is usually some instant camaraderie and a little more understanding.
When Kids Get Fussy
It is not uncommon for the kids to get tired and fussy if nap time or bedtime are imminent. While we try our best to avoid flights that conflict with this, it simply is not possible. In many cases, the kids would be overtired and fighting sleep causing a momentary crying session. In this scenario, I will usually step out of the lounge with the child and try to get them to sleep in the stroller or baby carrier. Once they are settled, I will come back in. The lounge staff has always been appreciative of me stepping out and I have never had any issues getting back in.
If total meltdowns are happening, we will leave the lounge. The last possible thing I would ever want is to be asked to leave so we can very conscious of how the kids are behaving and their volume and we will proactively leave, if needed.
Supplies We Bring With
While the odd lounge here or there has had a family section or room, for the most part, they are geared towards adults on business travel. That means the plates are breakable, the drink ware is glass and the seating can be better suited for adults (and I don’t think I have ever seen a high chair in there). Some of the things we will pack are:
- Kid-friendly cup or water bottle to fill-up
- A non-breakable plate or silicone place mat (even a paper plate will do in a pinch)
- Disposable changing pad if you have a non-mobile baby (put the baby’s blanket over it)
- For babies, simple, lightweight and easy to clean toys like Green Sprouts stacking cups and Indestructibles brand books that don’t rip and can be washed.)
- For older kids, tablet with headphones (we love this Kidz Gear one because it is reasonable, durable and has a splitter to allow two sets of headphones to go into one device)
- A few activities to keep kids busy – coloring or sticker books and small games are perfect
What are your thoughts?
What are your thoughts for bringing kids into airport lounges? And other tips for parents?