The Most Unbelievable Airport Amenities You Can Enjoy on a Layover
Most people dread a flight with a long layover (especially if they get stuck at one of the worst airports in the world). But not every layover dooms you to boredom or forces you to pass the hours with greasy takeout and arduous magazine articles. That’s because there are some surprisingly awesome perks and amenities you can access at airports in the United States and around the world. In fact, some airport amenities are so good that you’ll wish you had a longer layover to enjoy them.
Read on to check out some of the most unbelievable airport amenities you’ll look forward to checking out the next time you fly.
1. A rooftop pool
Hopper reports at Changi Airport in Singapore, you can chill out between flights by floating in a rooftop pool. Just head to Terminal 1, and enjoy the Balinese-themed pool and hot tub. You don’t even have to be waiting for a connecting flight to enjoy the pool. If you stay at the Ambassador Transit Hotel, you get complimentary access. If you’re just passing through, a fee of about $13 will get you into the pool and put a non-alcoholic drink in your hand.
And don’t forget, at the same airport you can also enjoy five gardens, a huge slide, a spa, massages, a free movie theater, free access to Xbox and PlayStation game consoles, and even designated napping facilities.
2. An aquarium
Not everybody wants to strip down to their swimwear at the airport. (The TSA checkpoints make you feel exposed enough.) But you can still enjoy a view of the water at Vancouver International Airport, where you can check out a 30,000-gallon aquarium. Hopper reports the tank contains 5,000 ocean creatures, including wolf eels, starfish, sea urchins, and 10 species of rockfish. A separate tank includes jellyfish exclusively. You can sit down and take in the view — and enjoy the creek that runs through the same terminal.
3. A yoga studio
Another great way to relax at the airport is to complete a few yoga poses. Luckily, you don’t need to roll out a lone yoga mat at your terminal if you’re flying through the San Francisco International Airport. Hopper reports one of the airport’s best airport amenities is the yoga studio in Terminal 2. The 150-square-foot room is open 24 hours a day with complimentary access. Plus, travelers can also enjoy the “reflection room” if they want to meditate. Or they can head to XPresSpa for a massage, a facial, a manicure, or a pedicure.
4. Sleep suites
If what you really need is sleep while you wait for your connecting flight, the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta has your back. The Travel Channel reports at the Minute Suites in Terminal B, you can enjoy fresh linens, HDTV, and your choice of either an alarm clock or a wake-up call. And Atlanta isn’t the only airport to offer a private place to sleep. You can enjoy similar airport amenities at Heathrow, Gatwick, and Amsterdam’s Shiphol airport. Plus, sleep suites at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, Narita Airport in Tokyo, and the Zurich Airport also include showers.
5. Drinks anywhere in the airport
Normally when you fly, you have to enjoy your cocktail, beer, or glass of wine at the bar. But at the Nashville International Airport in Tennessee, you can drink wherever you like. According to Hopper, the airport has a facility-wide beer and liquor license. Travelers can now carry their drinks away from the bar. You can even have a drink with you while you enjoy some of the other airport amenities. Your cocktail might pair well with a massage or manicure. Or maybe you want to enjoy a beer while you listen to live music, check out a local art exhibit, or just chill out with your Netflix account and the airport’s free Wi-Fi.
6. A beer garden
If your airport doesn’t allow you to enjoy your drink anywhere you want, the next best thing is a dedicated beer garden — especially if your airport is in Germany. Hopper reports Munich International Airport’s Airbräu tavern features a beer garden shaded by chestnut trees. The establishment also has its own onsite brewery. Occasionally, it even hosts live music and cabaret shows. If you have the time between flights, you can tour the brewery and get a firsthand look at the brewing process.
7. Live music
Maybe you make a policy of avoiding alcohol when you have to be cooped up on a plane. But catching some live music at the airport definitely doesn’t cause dehydration or mess with your sleep cycle. CNN reports at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, travelers can catch shows on four stages. There are venues in the east and west concourses, so you don’t even have to stray far from your gate. Plus, the airport hosts more than a dozen concerts each week. Another airport with a notable concert series? JFK. The JetBlue terminal at this Queens, New York, airport regularly hosts major headlining artists.
8. Rentals of bicycles, skates, and walking poles
Want to de-stress between flights by working out? You’ll fit in just fine at the Zurich Airport in Switzerland. Hopper reports some of the best airport amenities in Zurich are the sports equipment rentals. You can borrow bicycles, inline skates, or Nordic walking poles in a variety of sizes. The airport’s service center will rent them to you for four to eight hours — more than enough time to explore the green areas around the airport as you wait for your connecting flight.
9. An ice skating rink
Munich makes another appearance on the list of the best airport amenities thanks to its seasonal ice rink. The Travel Channel reports during the colder months of the year, staff transforms the covered outdoor atrium between Terminals 1 and 2 into “a winter wonderland.” You can access the ice skating rink for free. Or if you’d prefer to keep your feet firmly planted on (less slippery) solid ground, you can peruse 50 market stands. Fun fact? In the summer, the same space hosts beach volleyball tournaments and arena polo matches.
10. A bike assembly station
Providing one of the most unexpected airport amenities, the Portland International Airport in Oregon offers travelers a bike assembly station. Confused? Portland is one of the most bikeable cities in the United States, so the station makes it easy for travelers to assemble or disassemble their bikes before and after their flights. The airport also offers a bike path for travelers to stretch their legs. You can even borrow basic bike tools from the State Welcome Center.
11. A golf course
This one will definitely be one of the most exciting airport amenities for golf fans — especially golf fans who fly to Asia. Hopper reports outside Terminal 2 at the Hong Kong International Airport, you’ll find the SkyCity Nine Eagles Golf Course. You can even rent your equipment there. Plus, the staff can store your luggage for you while you play. Interestingly enough, the course’s signature hole, Island Green, was inspired by the 17th hole at the Tournament Players Club in Sawgrass, Florida.
12. A ping pong table
Another fun game you can play at some airports? Ping pong! CNN reports at General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a temporary ping pong table was such a hit that the airport chose to make it a permanent fixture. You can watch a game if there’s one ongoing or join in if you want to loosen up your muscles between flights.
13. A museum
You can usually enjoy some art at the airport. But a full-fledged museum isn’t exactly the most common of airport amenities. In fact, Hopper reports the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam is the only museum in the world to be annexed to an airport. Travelers at the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands get free admission to the museum. There, they can check out work by Dutch artists such as Jan Steen and Ferdinand Bol. Each of the rotating exhibits at the museum features eight to 10 paintings, depending on the exhibition’s theme.
14. A cultural center
In a similar vein, another cool airport amenity is the cultural center at the Incheon International Airport in Seoul, South Korea. Hopper reports the Traditional Korean Cultural Experience Zone is a great place to get a taste of Korean culture. You can make traditional crafts, such as Hanji, traditional Korean paper, or Dancheong, paintwork on wooden buildings. Or you can try on traditional Korean clothing and accessories and pose for a photo. You can also take in a musical performance.
15. An e-book library
If your preferred method of coping with a layover is just to stock up on good reading material, you’ll feel right at home at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. CNN reports that literary-minded travelers can rent an iPad or another e-reader that’s loaded with more than 400 books. Titles are available in both Chinese and English. And they represent diverse genres. Prefer paper to touchscreen? The library offers thousands of printed books, magazines, and newspapers, too.
16. Luxury shopping
If retail therapy is more your speed, you’ll enjoy a layover at London’s Heathrow Airport. You can stroll through an 11,000 square-foot outpost of Harrods. Or you can shop in high-end boutiques, such as Cartier, Etro, Salvatore Ferragamo, and Zegna. In fact, you can find small boutiques throughout the airport, and you can shop for goods from Jimmy Choo, Valentino, Loewe, and Roberto Cavalli. You even shop some of those labels at Gatwick’s North and South terminals, too.
17. A dinosaur skeleton
Some people’s favorite airport amenities are spas and yoga studios. Others love beer gardens and golf courses. But if you’re a natural history buff — or the parent of a dinosaur-obsessed child — your favorite might be a big, impressive dinosaur skeleton. Hopper reports travelers at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport can head to Terminal 1 to check out a 72-foot-long brachiosaurus skeleton. The skeleton, on loan from Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History, measures a whopping four stories high.
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