Philadelphia International Airport’s (PHL) Restroom Renovation Program has been awarded the 2023 March of Dimes Mission Award for its intentionally inclusive design towards traveling mothers. One of the key values of PHL is “People First” and providing a comfortable and safe passenger experience is paramount to upholding that value. Serving nearly two million passengers every month, the diverse accessibility needs of people who travel through PHL are considered in every part of the airport experience. The six lactation suites in the Restroom Renovation Program are part of how PHL is going beyond the baseline of accommodation by providing comfortable and beautiful spaces for mothers as they travel.
"Giving traveling mothers calm places where they can take care of their babies’ needs was a must for the restroom program," said PHL CEO Atif Saeed. "Thank you to the March of Dimes for recognizing our commitment to families, and to our elected officials for supporting the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law [BIL]. BIL funding helps makes necessary amenities like the built-in lactation suites possible."
March of Dimes is a national non-profit leading the fight for the health of all mothers and babies through public health research, advocacy, NICU initiatives, and more. Since 1938, March of Dimes has been working to end preventable maternal health risks, end preventable preterm births, and close the health equity gap. Building safe and accessible facilities for mothers and babies into public infrastructure is in alignment with the health equity work that March of Dimes supports every day. The Mission Award recognizes projects in both the public and private sector for the design and construction of facilities that support maternal and infant health. The RRP will be recognized on October 18 at the 30th Annual Transportation, Building, and Construction Awards Luncheon. For Deputy Director of Aviation- Capital Development, Api Appulingam, this award holds special meaning. As the mother of twins born prematurely, she was introduced to the March of Dimes at the hospital neonatal intensive care unit. The personal support that she received from the March of Dimes served as inspiration to continue advocating for women in all settings.
“As a mom who was nursing and traveling, an amenity like a lactation suite at an airport meant less stress and worry about finding a safe and appropriate place to express breast milk before I boarded a flight. So, I personally know how important this amenity is and I am grateful that the March of Dimes is recognizing PHL for supporting moms," said Appulingam.
The first lactation suite opened in October 2022 and five more are planned, providing a lactation suite for each terminal. These suites are temperature controlled with amenities such as reclining chairs and charging ports. The comfort, design, and accessibility of these spaces go beyond simply providing privacy for nursing and pumping, as required by the 2018 Friendly Airports for Mothers (FAM) Act. The Restroom Renovation Program has also incorporated adult changing rooms and handwashing stations as amenities offered within the airport, providing an array of spaces that can be used by mothers depending on their needs. For a list of all of PHL’s nursing amenities and their locations, visit the Mothers' Nursing Stations page on PHL.org.