All the baggage is ready, tickets and passports are at hand – and even the little ones seem to be in a happy and mellow holiday mood. The reality isn't always that rosy, however, as was discovered by a Finavia survey on the needs of families travelling with children last year.
'The departure hall seems to be the most stressful stage for families, when all the pre-flight procedures requiring some kind of action from them are still ahead. There's waiting, preparing, and worrying about how deal with it all', reports Petra Merikanto, Customer Insight Manager for Finavia.
Guidance and a dedicated security check line for families
Around last Christmas, guides dressed as Santa's helpers helped families in the departure hall of Helsinki Airport. They answered questions, helped families getting ready for departure, and handed out Christmas-themed service maps created for families and kids.
'The map featured all of the airport places and services that are fun and relevant for kids'. Finavia is also planning a more permanent version of the service.
'The helpers proved to be such a success that we are considering continuing with it', Merikanto explains.
Play areas are important for both the children and parents, as they help everyone cope.
The security check is the last stop in the departure hall. Helsinki Airport's dedicated security check line for families with children makes it faster and easier for them to get through. Finavia's survey showed that this service received both praise and suggestions to make it stand out more.
Highlight of the airport: play areas
Families considered play areas the best spots at airports. Helsinki Airport, for instance, has several play areas with toys for both the smallest and older kids.
'Play areas are important for both the children and parents, as they help everyone cope. For the kids, they offer interesting things to do, fun, and friends, while the parents get a moment to relax', Merikanto points out.
Families wish for more options involving exercise to allow the children get rid of excess energy before having to sit still for a long time. Merikanto promises this will be kept in mind when the play areas are up for refitting. Kittilä Airport just installed a slide for the little ones.
Helsinki Airport has four play areas free to use for all families with children. There is also a smaller play area in the Seasons restaurant at Gate 14.