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.
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
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…
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]
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.
No soft play areas (although there is a Hamleys store).
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.
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.
No soft play area.
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]
There’s an unsupervised play area on the first floor.
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!
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.
There are plans for new play equipment/a play area but nothing at present.
No soft play area
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.