Play areas at UK airports

There’s rarely any more wandering aimlessly around Duty Free once you start flying with kids – once I’ve cleared security, and stocked up on any last-minute essentials, it’s been straight to the airport soft play area since my daughter was a toddler.

Sometimes tiny, sometimes surprisingly impressive, often tucked away where you’d never stumble across them by accident, soft play at airports is one of my key ways to survive a flight with a young child – tire them out before you board the plane.

The well-loved airport soft play at Gatwick's North Terminal - one of the play areas at UK airports

So if you’re wondering where to find the play areas at UK airports, here’s what’s on offer at 15 around the country before you fly off on holiday.

For more ways to entertain young kids, check out my top toddler toys for travel

London Heathrow

Every terminal has a ‘stay & play’ area, all open from 6am to 9pm. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Terminal 2 – the impressive new terminal has a screened off play area near Gate 16, overlooking the planes.

Terminal 3 – there’s a special Family Lounge area, with separate play sections for ages 0-2 and 3-9 plus a game zone for 10-15, breastfeeding area and comfy seats. It’s all but hidden away, so follow signs for Lounge A near the Ted Baker store, and it’s tucked away upstairs. Worth tracking down…

Minnie tests out the Terminal 3 family room - one of the play areas at UK airports

Terminal 4 – head towards Gates 1-6 for the play area.

Terminal 5 – in the main Terminal 5A departure lounge near Gate A7

[NB Terminal 1 is now closed]

London Gatwick

North Terminal – the small kids’ zone is tucked away in a corner near Boots. Head towards the far left after security, and it’s next to the lifts.

South Terminal – the soft play area is much bigger, although less inspired, and right in the centre of the food and shops upstairs.

London Stansted

No soft play areas (although there is a Hamleys store).

London City airport

No soft play area although you can get activity packs


There’s a kids’ area with screens but no soft play for littler ones – follow the signs to gates 1-6, and it’s just around the corner from Pret A Manger near the stairs.

Exeter airport

There are no play areas at the airport


No soft play although there’s a Game Zone/arcade for older children.


The ‘Sky Zone’ airport play area designed for kids aged up to 13, is at Gate 55 – it’s an interactive play area, with various apps to download (and another offering for older kids)


Terminal 1 – the play area for under-threes seems to have been removed.

Terminal 2 – a toddler area for under threes next to Gate 213, plus an area nearby for three to eight-year-olds. 

Liverpool John Lennon

No soft play area.

East Midlands

There’s an unsupervised soft play area in the first floor food court, suitable for children aged under eight.

Doncaster Sheffield Airport (formerly Robin Hood Airport)

The airport had a children’s play area near the customer service desk in departures but there no longer seem to be any dedicated children’s areas. [EDIT: Airport is currently closed]

Leeds Bradford

There’s an unsupervised play area on the first floor.

Newcastle airport

Most facilities are aimed at older kids, with games and tablets. 


The airport has two soft play areas, one near Gate 2, another by Gate 21 – part of its aim to be the most family-friendly airport on offer. Hurrah Edinburgh!

A girl plays in the soft play area at Heathrow airport's Terminal two - one of my ways to make airports easier with kids
My daughter, at Heathrow’s Terminal 2 soft play


An unsupervised soft play area for two to six-year-olds after security on the international/west pier, near gate 27. There are also puzzle tables and Lego dotted around various bits of the terminal too.

If you feel like it, you can also buy tickets to Upper Deck on the top floor which also has a kids zone, games centre and views out onto the planes. Prices aren’t cheap at £7 for kids aged two to 13, and £18 for adults, if all you want is a bit of energy burned off.

Aberdeen airport

There are plans for new play equipment/a play area but nothing at present.


No soft play area

Belfast International

No soft play area.



Disclaimer: All information about play areas at UK airports is correct at time of publishing but airports do regularly update their facilities so it’s always worth doublechecking – do comment if there’s anything new (or anything has vanished) and I’ll update the list.




    1. Glad it’s useful! I know I’m not the only one to search before I fly – interesting to see that some of the bigger airports still no facilities, while smaller ones have managed to work out a play area is a great idea…

  1. Just found this post, thank you, I didn’t realise there were soft play places at airports, I think we normally don’t have that much time to explore but I’ll remember this in case we are ever delayed..!

  2. Thanks for the information, a great help. Do you know if the East Midlands soft play area is after security or before? Ive been without the kids but cant remember seeing it. Many thanks.

  3. Just a heads up that the play area in Gatwick North is 0-7 only so if you are flying with and 8+ child there’s nothing here 🙂

    Good play area for the little ones though!

    1. Thanks, that’s useful to know – it doesn’t seem to specify that anywhere on the website (and the last few times we’ve been through Gatwick, we’ve been in too much of a hurry to stop and play!)

    1. As far as I’m aware, there is no play area at Cardiff airport which is why it wasn’t included, but it’s a good point that it should be listed to say so, so will edit the post

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