europe · the mom life · travel

How Stuttgart Airport Made Time Fly By While Waiting with Kids

After two years of not flying anywhere, I found myself positively giddy on my first time back at an airport — even if I wasn’t the one getting on a flight at all. We were bringing my sister to board her flight, and we had the whole gang in tow: me, my husband, my 3-year old and my 6-month old.

I barely remembered how small Stuttgart Airport was — you could probably walk from one end to the other in about 15 minutes (maybe 5 minutes if you’re late for a flight and are running). We arrived at the airport with a lot of time to spare before boarding time, so we roamed around trying to find a decent restaurant where we could settle down with the kids while we wait.

Aside from the McDonald’s and a rather well-stocked Edeka supermarket, there wasn’t much going for options (the big buffet restaurant is now unfortunately closed). What we did stumble upon had no food, but was actually a better option for keeping the little ones entertained.

Behind all the last-minute travel kiosks in Terminal 3, we found Skyland, a small airplane-themed play area with different stations to keep kids busy. There was a giant play turbine, a small arcade game, and several screen terminals where kids can play videos to learn more about flying and what goes on in an airport. What was a hit for my toddler was the giant plane model where you could walk in and sit at a make-believe cockpit, complete with the busy dashboard and spinning chairs.

The best, however, was still to come. Once our toddler had enough spins on the cockpit chair, we set off once more to again search for a place for a quick bite before the flight. No resto was found; however, we did stumble on a gem in the Visitors’ Terrace, all up in the rooftop of the airport terminal.

Aside from the obvious viewing platform of the airplanes ramping up and down on the Stuttgart Airport tarmac, there were several vintage airplanes on display. The real hit, however, were the small Mini-Pilot go-karts in a tiny demarcated tarmac, where kids could have the whole pilot experience as they pedal around. Our kiddo had such a blast! It looked so fun, I wished they had go-karts that big kids (ehem, ehem — I mean, me) could ride too.

We spent so much time goofing around in the Mini-Pilot area that before we knew it, it was almost time to board. One advantage of a small airport is that you could easily make your way to the boarding gate, even if you find yourself meandering for quite a time.

Seeing Stuttgart Airport from a parent’s point-of-view from the first time, I was really impressed and grateful for these thoughtful kid-friendly attractions. If you live around the area, it might be even worth your while to just visit the Visitors’ Terrace just to watch the airplanes land and take-off, and to take the MiniPilot go-karts for a spin. Having to dawdle around the airport while waiting for your flight can be draining enough, even before throwing antsy kids into the mix; I think I can say that Stuttgart Airport aced this effort to make things a bit easier for families travelling everywhere. Kudos!

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