Tips for Surviving the Atlanta Airport with Kids
Long security lines, delayed flights, and crowds of people in a hurry –we’ve all been there before. With these tips, turn the challenge of navigating the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport with kids into something fun.
Getting to the Atlanta Airport
Before you can start your airport fun, you’ve got to get there with as little drama as possible. Luckily, you have lots of options. For parking, Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL) has affordable remote options like The Parking Spot and Park ‘N Fly as well as convenient options like terminal parking. Essentially, you pick between saving money or saving time. If you live near a MARTA rail station, you can hop on and go straight to the airport from the red or gold lines. Uber or Lyft are additional convenient options; just remember to bring car seats.
Security Sweets and Treats
Both parents and kids can agree on one thing: there is nothing fun about the security line. But you can make it tolerable by bringing simple sweets that are easy to distribute. Have your bag of Skittles (or whatever your kids prefer) handy and give your kids different goals. “If you can make it from this sign to that sign without fighting, you each get a Skittle” or “If you earn three points in the next five minutes (awarded for good behavior), you can have a Skittle.” Your kids will be so well behaved, the other passengers in line will thank you. If you and your family fly more often, consider getting TSA Precheck, which lasts for five years. There is a TSA enrollment center near baggage claim in the airport.
Skip the Plane Train
If you have time, walk from security to your terminal rather than riding the Plane Train. Visitors to ATL can check out the exhibits between each terminal, which feature photography, sculptures, and stories about Atlanta’s history. Kids can either walk or use the moving sidewalk. Besides helping to kill time and keep kids engaged, this strategy helps to burn off some energy before they sit on the plane.
Ride the Plane Train
Yes, this sounds contradictory but hear us out. If you’re short on time or if your kids are anti-walking, the Plane Train is a ride in itself. Kids can stand and hold onto a pole and try to keep themselves upright as the train stops.
Where to Eat at the Atlanta Airport
Kids work up an appetite waiting in lines and getting to their gate. Luckily, ATL has plenty of family-friendly dining options at each terminal, and even before security. Parents can pick up quick food at Atlanta’s hometown favorites Chick Fil-A (three locations) and The Varsity (two locations). Other local favorites are LottaFrutta, Grindhouse Killer Burgers, and Paschal’s. If your wait is longer, ATL has lots of sit-down restaurants including four TGI Fridays throughout the airport and local favorite Varasano’s Pizza at Concourse A. If you don’t mind sugaring them up a little bit before the plane ride, check one of two Savannah’s Candy Kitchen locations. It’s a sweet-tooth’s dream with candy by the bag, truffles and fudge.
Kids Play at the Atlanta Airport
Currently, ATL does not have a dedicated play area for kids, but plans are in the works to add one. In the meantime, parents need to get creative. You can keep it simple by watching the planes come and go out of any of the wall-sized windows. Try a scavenger hunt through the terminal –for instance, find gate C7, find a trash can that opens when you wave at it. Parents can also bring their own entertainment, such as paper, crayons, small games, and card; then, find a quiet gate area to spread out. Save the screens for the actual plane ride.