Often, people see having children and travelling the world as two separate paths, choosing one or the other. However, as many parents have proven, travelling with children can be a match made in heaven.
Not only are you scratching an itch by exploring new cultures and countries, travelling enriches your children’s lives and helps them learn more about the world — even if it’s just a short trip.
That said, the logistics of travelling with children can be tricky, especially when you consider long-haul flights and busy airports.
Heathrow Airport is the second busiest airport in the world and the busiest in the UK. Because of its many, varied routes, it’s a popular choice for those flying to far-flung destinations. If you have booked up for your next escape, read our tips for navigating London-Heathrow with the little ones in tow:
Getting to the airport
Before you step foot in Heathrow airport, you’ll need to get there first. As you’d expect, getting to one of the world’s busiest airports can get congested, meaning delays are likely. It may sound obvious but leave enough time for your journey, taking into account any toilet breaks your children may need.
Consider the time you’re travelling, too. If you need to be at the airport around rush hour, keep in mind that traffic may be heavier and public transport could be more crowded — which is not ideal when you’ve got a pushchair and suitcases in tow. When travelling a long distance to Heathrow, it’s a wise choice to travel to the airport the day before and stay at a nearby airport hotel.
A late flight home can also be problematic when you’re travelling with tired children. You’ll want to get home as quickly as possible, so consider taking advantage of Heathrow Airport parking available from companies like NCP. You can ensure your car is parked safely for the duration of the holiday and because it’s closely located to the airport, you could be back at your car within 5-10 minutes of leaving the airport via a bus transfer.
If you are planning on taking advantage of airport parking, we recommend booking in advance to save on on-the-day fees and guarantee your space.
Facilities For Families Inside Heathrow Airport
As an airport, Heathrow offers a number of facilities for families, with everything from family-friendly eateries to play areas for the little ones. Here is an overview of some of the ways you can keep little ones entertained in Heathrow airport:
If you’re hoping to grab a bite to eat when you’re in the airport, there are a number of restaurants serving family-friendly meals. You’ll find old favourites like Giraffe and Carluccio’s, as well as quick and easy food and drink outlets like Caffe Nero and Pret a Manger.
The airport also operates a Kids Eat Free offer in selected restaurants during the school holidays, when an adult dines too. Choose to dine at the Perfectionists’ Café or Gordon Ramsay Plane Food and you can take advantage of this offer all year round. A full list of qualifying restaurants and dates can be found on Heathrow Airport’s website.
Let your little ones stretch their legs in Heathrow Airport’s Stay and Play play areas found in Terminal 2, Terminal 3, Terminal 4, and Terminal 5. They’re open from 6am to 9pm every day and feature slides and soft play toys in dedicated areas for babies and juniors. When waiting to board, these play areas can be the perfect distraction for little ones who are growing tired of waiting.
Bookable children’s lounges
Luxury airport lounges aren’t just for adults. Many of the airport lounges at Heathrow Airport are child-friendly. A standout lounge is the No. 1 Lounge at Terminal 3. This plush lounge features luxurious décor and a fully tended bar so adults can relax in style, while the little ones can help themselves to sweet treats and cakes before watching a film in the in-lounge cinema.
Adult entry to the lounge costs £34, while entry for children between 2 and 11 years old costs £18. Children under two can enter the lounge for free.
Heathrow Airport also has you covered when it comes to feeding your baby. Liquid restrictions on flights may seem daunting at first, but Heathrow Airport allows you to take enough baby food, sterilised water, prepared baby milk or up to 2 litres of expressed breast milk for your journey. For many parents, this gives them the peace of mind that they have all of the essentials they need for the journey ahead.
If you’re in a hurry to get to the airport, you can save some time with Heathrow’s Reserve & Collect baby milk service. Pre-book the baby milk, food and other items you’ll need for your flight and you can pick it up after you’ve passed through security.
Throughout the terminals, there are regular changing and baby feeding spaces for parents to use. If you’re breastfeeding your child, it’s good to know that you’ll have some privacy as you feed.
When you have the kids and luggage in tow, navigating a busy airport can be tricky. To help, Heathrow Porters can be booked online, by email or by phone up to 48 hours before arrival. The helpful porters will help transport your luggage to the check-in desk or from the baggage carousel, so you can focus on your children and get any necessary documentation ready for check-in.
If you’re travelling to Heathrow Airport from a country outside of the UK, it’s worth considering the airport’s Meet & Assist service. As part of this service, multi-lingual agents are on-hand to help guide you through the airport, helping you through check-in, security and baggage collection. This service must be booked up to 48 hours in advance and prices start at £125.
Of course, as well as the above, you can make your experience at Heathrow Airport — and the flight itself — much more enjoyable by packing plenty to keep your children busy. From books and teddy bears to card games and computer tablets, pack a selection of items to keep your child occupied during the journey ahead.