Back in 2015, we ran an experiment with airports in the UK and Ireland and in May 2023, we ran it again to compare results. Initially, we wanted to see if the UK and Ireland’s airports were loud and proud tweeters, or simply the begrudging “we tweet because we have to” kind of crowd. Secondly, we didn’t just want to ask them some benign question that no one cared about; we wanted to ask them something that really mattered. Something that’s not always obvious from a quick trip to their website.
So we asked 28 UK and Irish airports via Twitter:
“Do you have dedicated mother and baby rooms for nursing mums?”
The results, needless to say, were very interesting. Below, you’ll find the 2015 results compared to the same experiment carried out in May 2023 to see if there were any changes or developments in the answers.
This time we took to good old Facebook Messenger, Twitter and Direct email addresses to ask the question;
“Do you have private facilities for mothers to breastfeed in?”
Often with very quick responses! If you want further information, simply click the 🤱 where it’s listed below to be taken to the relevant page on the airport’s website.
“Does my airport offer private breastfeeding facilities?”
|Airport||Facilities back in 2015||Facilities now in 2023|
|Aberdeen||Baby change facilities both landside and airside, with nursing facilities landside.||“We have a dedicated facility for breastfeeding landside (before you go through security) in the terminal. We also have baby changing facilities both landside and airside.”|
|Belfast City George Best||No dedicated rooms but many quiet and comfortable seating areas.||They do not have a private breastfeeding area but mothers are welcome to feed wherever they feel comfortable throughout the airport.|
|Belfast International||No reply||“We do not have a dedicated breastfeeding area, however we do have a quiet zone, which is free from flight announcements and the main hustle and bustle of the departure lounge. You will find the quiet zone en route to gates 20-29 in the departure area. Alternatively, we have 2 first aid rooms which you are welcome to use if they are available. Should you wish to have the privacy of the first aid room, just call us on 02894 484317 and we would be more than happy to meet you and take you there.” We love the answer!|
|Birmingham||Neither their Twitter response nor website provided relevant information.||“We have baby changing facilities in both landside and airside areas of the Airport. If you require electricity to power a breast pump then we recommend the sunflower room in the pier as there’s a power source there and the room is lockable.” That’s much better!|
|Bristol||Facilities located throughout the terminal.||“Every set of toilets has a parent and baby room which you are welcome to use for feeding your child. If you require any further assistance, please do not hesitate to get in touch or speak to a member of staff at the airport.”|
|Cardiff||A room on 1st Floor Departures, but welcome to feed wherever.||“You can use the ladies/baby change areas”|
|Dublin||All baby changing facilities have seating within the unit.||There are baby feeding rooms in both terminals, introduced in 2017. 🤱|
|East Midlands||Dedicated baby changing rooms with seating for nursing adjacent to men’s and ladies’ toilets both before and after security.||Slightly different response in 2023, “We have dedicated baby changing rooms with seating for breastfeeding next to the women’s bathrooms both before and after security. Please note that we promote feeding across our site and don’t restrict where this can take place.”|
|Edinburgh||We have quiet rooms in the toilets in UK Arrivals, Gate 12, Gate 19 and just after Immigration.||Their website states; “We welcome breastfeeding throughout the terminal, but for those who would like privacy to do this, we also have a lockable nursing room near Gate 21.” 🤱|
|Exeter||No reply||“We don’t have dedicated breastfeeding areas as such, however our toilets are all equipped with baby changing facilities, including our disabled toilets, which are fairly spacious too. However, the best place I can suggest is the quiet room we have available in the departure gates. This is a private room which can be used for a variety of things, of which breast feeding is certainly one. If you would like to use the quiet room during your visit, please contact a member of airport staff who will be happy to point you in the right direction.”|
|Glasgow||We have a number of mother and baby rooms. You’ll find more info in the “terminal facilities” section on our website.||“Yes, there are three changing rooms with lockable doors and plug sockets in them. One on each pier of the airport (where the gates are) and one in the main departures area next to Frankie and Benny’s. Additionally, we have a private breastfeeding area near Gate 1. Alternatively, if you pick up a help phone in the airport, an assistant can take you to a private room above Boots.”|
|Humberside||We have baby changing areas within our ladies facilities.||“Whilst we do not have any dedicated breastfeeding facilities at the Airport we would always be happy to assist any visitor or passenger to the airport in finding an appropriate area where they would feel comfortable breastfeeding.”|
|Inverness||No reply||“There is no dedicated breastfeeding space within the terminal at the moment, although there are chairs suitable for breastfeeding within the terminal toilet facilities.”|
|Leeds||No reply||“Please note, we do not have dedicated areas but we do have quiet areas which can be used.”|
|Liverpool||Just by the toilets both landside and air side (through security).||“We have dedicated family facilities and breastfeeding facilities throughout the terminal. Check in – dedicated family toilet with child and adult toilet, baby change and feeding seating area. Upper retail departures – Baby change and toilet plus separate feeding room. Eastern departure lounge – Family room and breast feeding room. Western Departures – Baby change and combined accessible room.”- We love the detailed responses!|
|London City||We do have baby changing rooms within the airport but no dedicated nursing rooms.||Their website states: “If you require privacy, mothers are permitted to use the First Aid room located before security. Please ask a member of the customer services team to take you there.” 🤱|
|London Gatwick||Equipped rooms for feeding and changing babies are shown by either a bottle sign or a babycare symbol.||“We have specially equipped rooms for feeding and changing babies, which are indicated by a babycare symbol. Changing facilities are provided in the check-in area, en route to the gates, in the transfer area, and after passport control in arrivals. There are also fold-down tables provided in some male and female toilets.”|
|London Heathrow||We have dedicated family areas within our terminals. Seating is available throughout the terminal and people are welcome to feed baby wherever they are comfortable.||“We don’t have any dedicated breastfeeding facilities available at present, but passengers are welcome to approach any member of staff who can direct them to a quieter area to breastfeed.”|
|London Luton||Sorry, we don’t, but if you contact a member of our passenger services team prior to security, we can find you somewhere you’d be able to get some peace and quiet. Please visit the desk in the concourse under the welcome sign for assistance.||They simply directed my enquiry to their website but the website doesn’t have anything regarding breastfeeding facilities. We’ve chased them up but still no response yet!|
|Manchester||There are baby changing facilities available in the terminals.||Their website states “our baby changing facilities include chairs to make breastfeeding easier. Manchester Airport promotes breastfeeding across our site and we do not restrict where this can take place” 🤱|
|Newcastle||You can find a list of our facilities for babies and children on our website. (We’ve taken out the link they gave us as it no longer works!)||“We have a quiet area available in Gate 31.”|
|Norwich||Baby change facilities but no dedicated feeding rooms.||“Nursing mothers are welcome to feed wherever they feel comfortable within the airport. We do not have dedicated facilities however, if a quiet, more private space is required, they can speak to our customer service desk as we will always try our best to accommodate.”|
|Shannon||Yes we do, of course, nursing mothers can feed wherever they feel most comfortable.||“We have a designated feeding room past our information desk on the right-hand side, but we welcome mothers to feed wherever they feel most comfortable in the airport.”|
|Southampton||Facilities on our main concourse have a nursing seat and facilities airside have baby changing (after Security).||“We have a dedicated breast-feeding cubicle conveniently located within our baby change room.”|
|Southend||No dedicated rooms. But there are areas upstairs and downstairs which are quite quiet both landside and airside.||“All mothers have the right to breastfeed their babies anywhere. The Southend Supports Breastfeeding scheme encourages venues across the city including shops, cafes, leisure centres, libraries, museums and transport services to welcome families who want to breastfeed.”|
|Stansted||In our departure lounge adjacent to the main toilet block there is a mother and baby room.||Their website states “There is a breastfeeding room located in the main departures lounge, as well as family rooms located near several of the gates. On arrival there is also a family room at the International Baggage Reclaim. Please note that we promote feeding across our site and don’t restrict where this can take place.” 🤱.|
|Teesside International||No reply||“All toilets (including male) both before and after security have a dedicated private baby change area. We also offer a Changing Places facility which can be used for breastfeeding if required.”|
This data was compiled in January 2015 and again in May 2023
It’s all about privacy
Being a new mum can be quite an overwhelming experience, and if it’s not your first child you may well have a toddler in tow. Airports are busy, daunting experiences at the best of times and trying to find somewhere to feed baby amongst it all can be pretty complicated.
Bear in mind back in 2010 it was made illegal for anyone to ask a mother breastfeeding in public to leave, so you could find a comfy seat and get on with it. This is more than acceptable, but the lack of privacy may not be for everyone, especially with there being so many different cultures within airports.
Now, 16 out of the 28 airports asked replied that they had dedicated mother and baby rooms that could be used for nursing mums. That’s around 57%. This is just about more than half which is surprising given the number of families that are on the move nowadays!
“Yes we do! Of course, nursing mothers can feed wherever they feel most comfortable. #familyfriendly #flyshannon” – @ShannonAirport
In 2015, Shannon, Southend, Cardiff, and Belfast City George Best all encouraged breastfeeding mothers to use wherever in the airport they felt comfortable, although George Best and Southend said they did not have anywhere dedicated. Today, It is still the case for George Best and Southend who are without dedicated rooms but advocate feeding wherever the mother feels comfortable.
And the award goes to…
Aberdeen, Gatwick, Glasgow, Liverpool and Shannon all win our award for the “Best Response” – offering helpful, detailed information in a timely manner, and actually answering our question in full. If you’re a nursing mum, there should be no worries travelling through these airports!
Birmingham Airport is in receipt of both our “Needs Improvement 2015” award and “Most Improved 2023” – their rather mediocre response in 2015 was:
“we do, please follow this link to our website for details;” – @bhx_official
Which provided a (now broken) link to the Special Assistance page..!
However having spoken to them 8 years later, they advised that “We have baby changing facilities in both landside and airside areas of the Airport. If you require electricity to power a breast pump then we recommend the sunflower room in the pier as there’s a power source there and the room is lockable”. Nice one, Birmingham!
Finally, the “Was It Something We Said?” award goes to Durham Tees Valley, Exeter, Inverness and Leeds Bradford who didn’t respond in 2015. However since conduting it again, they’ve all replied so well done guys!
Airports doing breastfeeding mothers proud.
A special mention must go out to Southampton Airport who replied with this lovely photo of one of their mother and baby rooms in 2015:
And one should also go to Dublin Airport for showcasing their 2 dedicated Baby Feeding Rooms, built in 2017.
Let’s also give a huge “Thank you!” to Aberdeen, Bristol, East Midlands, Gatwick and Stansted for all mentioning they had dedicated breastfeeding or family rooms available in the terminal!
More UK airports need dedicated breastfeeding facilities.
Overall, we were impressed at the response rate, and, we’re pleased that there has been improvements in the number of airports with dedicated facilities! However, let’s hope the next time we revisit this subject that the number of UK airports with a dedicated breastfeeding facility has risen closer to 25!