Most parents will tell you that traveling internationally with kids is no day at the beach.
“For families with young children, spending long periods of time in an airport terminal can be a kind of torment. Partly because of all the waiting around but also because the airport is just a stop — usually the first stop — in a long journey,” said Suzanne Rowan Kelleher, family travel expert and managing editor of MiniTime.com.
But a new beach-themed children’s play area in the international terminal at Los Angeles International Airport gives kids a chance to have some fun and burn off some energy, before getting on a flight.
Opening Thursday in the new Tom Bradley International Terminal with a party featuring the LAX therapy dogs, gift bags and cupcakes, the 971-square-foot, post-security play area is dubbed “LAX Beach.” Open to kids ages 2 to 8, the play space has soft, sculpted foam pieces resembling waves, surfboards, beach toys and dolphins and is in keeping with the terminal’s overall architectural theme, which was inspired by the Pacific Ocean to the west of the airport.
“I think it’s safe to say that happy children make better fliers,” said Los Angeles World Airports Executive Director Gina Marie Lindsey. “And with the opening of LAX Beach, we are going to see a lot more happy children on our international flights.”
There are likely going to be a lot more happy adults seated around those children on international flights as well.
The play space — the first children’s play area in any LAX terminal — was built for the Los Angeles World Airports by terminal management company Westfield for $350,000. In addition to the beach-themed foam pieces, there’s a slide, an interactive light table and lifesavers for children to crawl through.
Adjacent seating overlooking the space offers a place for parents to relax and keep an eye on their kids.
“Having a kid-centric place where kids can work off a bit of energy can be a real lifesaver,” said Rowan Kelleher. “The beach theme attempts to offer a sense of place, too, which is nice.”
Harriet Baskas is the author of “Hidden Treasures: What Museums Can’t or Won’t Show You," and the Stuck at the Airport blog. Follow her on Twitter at @hbaskas.