Airports as destinations in themselves! Thats an idea whose time has come. With the goal of luring travellers, some countries are take their first impression quite seriously- and it all begins with an airport that you will want to stay in for longer. They want you to enjoy your visit – whether you’re arriving or departing. And so from butterfly gardens to free cinemas and local tours they are making sure that your 8-hour haul is an experience in itself. So if you are booking your next holiday, make sure you route the flight through one of these.
Changi International Airport, Singapore
From movie theaters to a butterfly garden, a 40-foot slide, and a rooftop pool; there is ample entertainment. Consistently voted one of the best airports in the world, you can take a walk through one of five gardens, including the live butterfly garden boasting more than a 1000 butterflies or catch a free flick at the cinema. If you meet the visa requirements and have time in hand, you can also sign up for the free city tours that take you to the must-see spots. Choose to stay in? Make use of the Xbox, Playstations and massage chairs scattered throughout as well as art sculptures and waterfalls.
What’s awesome: You can sign up for cell phone alerts that will send you timely reminders for your next flight.
Seoul Incheon International Airport, South Korea
A global layover favourite, you can start off with a spin around the in-terminal ice rink. Yes they have one inside the airport! Want to know more about Korean culture? Head to the cultural centre where you can either catch a short play from the Joseon era, or taste a few local flavours against the backdrop of Korean imagery. You also have the choice of a modern film. Besides, they have free shower facilities, a nearby golfing centre, massage chairs, and a transit hotel, free city tours and of course a lot of of shopping.
What’s awesome: A live cultural performances four times a day where the “Royal Family” walks through the terminal in traditional costumes and they’ll happily pose for you.
Tokyo Haneda International Airport, Japan
One of the few airports in the world still within the city, makes exploring downtown fare easy on a long layover. But if you cannot leave the airport, enjoy the high speed WiFi or pamper yourself at the salon and oxygen bar. It is the best airport to catch up on some sleep as the seats and benches are comfortable, the lights are dimmed and there are no loud announcements over the speakers. Plug in your headphones and go into a deep slumber. Moreover, you can access comfortable seats, electrical outlets, refreshments and showers at the various lounges without shelling big bucks. Prices start as low as US$ 8.
What’s awesome: Watching the planes landing and taking off from the huge panoramic terrace on the roof.
San Francisco International Airport, California, USA
Airports in USA may not be very popular with travellers but San Francisco is unlike any other. While the standard amenities range from free WiFi, rapid charging stations, XpressSpas offering massages, facials, manicures/pedicures; the airport has a free Aviation Museum and Library for you. Laying over with tiny tots? Sign up for their special treasure hunt that comes with prizes or hang out in the kids play areas.
What’s awesome: Free yoga rooms, relaxation rooms and hydration stations to catch up on your workout schedules.
Zurich International Airport, Switzerland
Zurich has gone one step ahead of the usual free showers and comfy reclining chairs. You can rent simple furnished rooms complete with beds, TV and an individual wash basin. For those looking to get a little action between the staid flights, in-line skates and bikes are available to rent right from the airport. A great place when stopping by with kids, thanks to their the miniature airport and the SWISS Kid’s Tour. Missed your gym? Hire their sports equipment – bikes, skates and alpine poles – and explore the leafy area outside the airport.
What’s awesome: It is the only airport in the world where you watch the pilots at work in their cockpits, via a special walkway from the observation deck.
They sound tempting, don’t they? But no matter which airport you stop over at, always check out the prices for special lounges. Most of them have affiliations with international credit cards and you can bag a discount or a free privilege in exchange for some points or miles.
As always, we wish you happy travels!