Navigating the airport with children in tow can be one of a parent’s most daunting tasks during traveling. In fact, I know many parents who have missed out on family vacations because they refuse to fly with their kids. The mere thought of trying to shuffle the family through TSA was enough to throw in the towel. Cincinnati/ Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) sees hundreds of families each day and is ready to kick off your next family adventure. Our guide to CVG airport in Cincinnati for families will give you tips on how to make your trip to CVG airport as smooth as possible.
Before You Arrive at CVG
A successful trip to the airport begins before you even leave the house. A few things can expedite your waiting times at ticketing and TSA.
- Be sure to check with your airline to see what the baggage fees and guidelines are for flying with children’s accessories like strollers, pack-n-plays, and car seats.
- I highly recommend weighing your luggage before you arrive at the airport to ensure they are not over. Nothing is more stressful than trying to fumble through bags to redistribute weight while your underwear is falling out and the baby is crying. We have a little traveling scale that we bring with us to weigh bags on the way coming back.
- Download your airline’s app. A lot of times you can check-in online and go straight to have your bags checked upon arrival. Each app is different, but many will let you know of any delays, upgrade availability, baggage status, and more.
- Prepare for construction: The airport is currently undergoing some new and exciting projects and renovations. Detours are labeled, but can easily be missed if you are not paying close attention.
- Check the CVG website for TSA wait times, parking availability, and more. I always recommend arriving a minimum of an hour before boarding time. I much rather be early, then have the stress of nearly missing a flight.
Getting Kids Through TSA
This is an option that I highly recommend for families that are flying multiple times a year. For $85.00 a qualifying person can bypass long security lines without removing your shoes, laptop, liquids, belts, and light jackets. This is good for FIVE YEARS!!! Yes, five years of not having to worry about if your socks have holes in them or if your feet could snatch dinner out of the river. We are in the process of signing up for this and are making our appointments. Those who apply have to go for an in-person interview with TSA where you will under a background check and fingerprinting. Those are ten minutes well spent and will save your hours in the long run for those who travel frequently. Learn more here.
Getting Through TSA With Kids
Currently, TSA does not require any identification for a child traveling with their guardian domestically. We often bring a copy of our daughter’s birth certificate just in case the airlines need it. Each carrier has different identification requirements for children under 18 years old. Therefore, it is important to check with your airline if a birth certificate or other form of identification is needed. If a child is flying internationally they will need a passport. In the event, the child is flying internationally with one parent or a designated guardian, a note notarized granting permission by the non-traveling parent should be obtained. While the US does not require this, many countries do and could cause a few headaches on your return trip home.
Snacks and Drinks
The big question on everyone’s list is what food and drink can I get through TSA for my child. Be sure to review TSA guidelines as they may change. Bring that sippy cup, but be sure to let TSA know if there are any liquids that you have such as breastmilk, water, or juice. These items will still need to be screened and/or tested but are acceptable to bring in reasonable quantities. Even cooling packs for breast milk are allowed. Fruit cups, pouches and jello are also allowed but will also need to be screened. As long as you are not traveling internationally most fruit and snacks are acceptable to bring. Pro Tip: If you only have water in your sippy cup, dump it before going through security and then refill at a water station. They will have to test the water which takes a few precious minutes that could be used getting to your gate.
A Few More Things
Strollers will have to go through the scanner. Make sure you bring an easily collapsible stroller and don’t load it down with tons of stuff until you are through security. Wearing shoes that can be easily removed and put back on is vital. It prevents you from chasing a toddler with untied shoelaces and falling flat on your face. Pro Tip: My daughter hates parting with her lovie when we go through security. I tell her that lovie is going through the carwash and she will pop right out on the other side!
Family Friendly Finds In CVG Airport
The Cincinnati/ Northern Kentucky Airport is full of great family-friendly finds. Here are a few places that you won’t want to miss during your next visit to CVG.
Concourse A Play Area
This little play area is ideal for those with small children and those with multiple children. The play area is small with a little slide and animals to climb on. It overlooks the tarmac so chances are you might see a plane or two. There are nice lounging chairs for parents to relax in while their little ones play. However, there is no door to the room to allow guests to come and go freely, including your children. This was a great spot for Sophie to burn off some of that energy! (Take a left at the Starbuck in Concourse A, past the market and the play area is located on the right.)
Concourse B Play Area
Located right behind the food court is the Concourse B play area. Themed to the Cincinnati Zoo children can enjoy climbing on the hippo, following fun games off the wall and walking over a bridge. This is a mostly open area with no railings or walls to keep little ones contained. There are tables and chairs located nearby that overlook the tarmac for prime airplane viewing.
Fit For Fly Walking Paths
Throughout the airport, there are maps that have designated walking routes for kids to walk off that nervous energy. Not only will you get a great tour of the airport, but it will help stretch those legs before cramming them into a tiny plane for a few hours. Maps can be located on walls in the Transportation Tunnel, both concourses, and baggage claim.
Where Are You Going White Board
Don’t forget to stop by the “Where are you coming from?” Where are you going?” whiteboard that greets visitors in the Transporation Tunnel. Have your kids write where you will be going. It is a great way to start the trip. It is fun to revisit the board on your return trip to see what new destinations have been added.
Natalie’s Candy Jar
This one may be more for the kid inside us all. Feast on all your favorite candy classics and more during your flight, buy creating a custom goodie bags. Located in Concourse B, this candy shop is bound to catch your children’s attention and it will be hard to leave without buying anything. It will feel like you have stepped into a game of Candyland as you browse through a sea of jellybeans, gummy bears and chocolates.
Cincinnati Museum Center’s Temporary Exhibits
As Cincinnati’s amazing museum center continues to undergo its restoration, CVG graciously became the new temporary home to a few of their exhibits. Walking through the airport guests can try to find all the fun exhibits on display, like a huge Mastodon. The airport hopes to continue to host off-display artifacts from the museum center after the renovation is complete.
Grab An Activity Kit
Located at the information kiosks are activity kits for kids. They are complementary and can help keep little ones distracted while they wait to board the plane or on the plane ride itself! The information kiosk is a great place to get directions to the nearest family bathroom, water refill station or kid-friendly restaurants.
These are amazing privacy units for nursing moms that are located in each concourse. Not only are they great for nursing moms, but they are also equipped for moms who are pumping on the go. Each pod is equipped with outlets and sanitizer. The best part of these pods is that they are full of encouraging and positive notes to other breastfeeding/pumping mommas. The pods are also handicap accessible.
We have all seen it. The frazzled parents dragging their small child through a filthy airport terminal praying they won’t contract some rare disease from licking the moving walkway. Naturally, they need to go to the bathroom at the most inconvenient time, which leaves parents scrambling to fit everyone and everything into a tiny bathroom stall. This is when finding a family bathroom is like accessing the Delta Sky Club. The room is big enough for your entire family and everyone can take care of their business at once. Since corralling children is like herding cats having everyone confined to one room can be a relief. Multiple family bathrooms are located in both concourses and throughout the airport.
Where To Eat
There are plenty of great food choices at the airport. My recommendation is to go to the food court in Concourse B. Not only do they have high chairs available, but the play area is behind the food court. There is a Chick-Fil-A in the food court, which is my immediate go-to when traveling with small children. Other options include a McDonalds, Gold Star Chili (a Cincinnati favorite), and a few other restaurants.
Looking for a classic sweet treat during your wait at the airport? Look no further than the Graeter’s that is located in Concourse A. Grab a scoop of the black raspberry chip or grab a freshly baked muffin to go. Either way travelers young and old will love this stop during your visit to CVG airport.
A Treat For The Parents
Look no further than the newly tapped Christian Moerlein Jet CVG beer! This is a special brew just for CVG airport. You can grab a glass of this at the Malt House Taproom located in Concourse A. While you are in Concourse A swing by the Cork’N Bottle and behold an amazing bourbon selection. Sold in flight size bottles, single serving and family size!
There are plenty of grab-n-go stores throughout both concourses that offer guests quick meals to take with them on the plane, to their gate or to stash away for late. Many of these places sell last minute supplies as well, such as diapers, electronics, wipes and more.
Water Refill Stations
Bringing an empty water bottle is a great way to save a little money and time. Water refill stations are located throughout the entire airport and in both concourses.
A Few More Airport Tips
- Ride the Train. Kids love taking a ride on the train that transports you between terminals. A great way to keep them entertained if your flight keeps getting delayed. Take it back to the “Where are you going board” and see what new destinations have been added.
- Check out the CPR station in Concourse A. While you won’t get an official certification, you can learn how to perform CPR and teach the kids too.
- There is FREE Wi-Fi available-CVG Free
- Moving sidewalks and escalators are not recommended for strollers and wheelchairs. There are elevators located next to the escalators.
- There is a Subway and Blaze Pizza located in Concourse A for quick family-friendly options.
Are you flying with an infant? Be sure to check out our post about tips for those flying with a little baby here.