Airports can sometimes feel like necessary evil, what with the serpentine security lines, hours-long flight delays and mediocre pretzels.
But there are quite a few you wouldn’t curse in the event of a delay.
Some you may want to book a trip through just to see how great an airport can be.
We’re talking movie theatres, rooftop swimming pools, golf, art, music, free city tours and friendly packs of pooches (plus one pig).
Here are 5 airports to visit on your next layover:
1. Hong Kong International Airport
This is another contender for a residency. There’s an Imax 3-D/2-D in Terminal 2 – the largest in Hong Kong – with seats for 350 people.
Golfers can work on their swing at GreenAir, a Terminal 2 outpost that offers simulated nine- and 18-hole games. At the “Dream Come True Education Park”, kids can learn about professionals such as doctors, pilots and police officers while dressing up in the respective career uniform.
During your down time, you can wander through miniature gardens, get a manicure or haircut, take a shower or check out an interactive exhibition.
Aviation buffs can peer through binoculars at an outdoor sky deck as planes take off and land.
唔係黎上機or接機…係黎上堂 🤓 — was neither here for a departure or arrival, but rather for a class at the HKIA Aviation Academy about Ramp Stream logistics, security, and safety. — 📍Skydeck is located in Terminal 2 in the entertainment zone. It costs $15hkd per adult, but you can get 50% off with a student ID. It has an amazing, unobstructed view of the airport island as well as views of the water and mountains beyond ⛰ we were really lucky to come on a day with very high visibility and good weather! Many airplane fanatics come here with large telephoto lens to take photos of landing planes. The only con of this viewing deck is how bright and hot it can get during the day, which may affect one’s enjoyment of the view and airplanes. . 📍I would recommend HKIA Aviation Academy to any young Hong Kong resident who is interested in airplanes or airport operations. The lecturers are funny and highly knowledgeable, and very willing to answer questions and provide you with a good learning experience. (They were definitely better than 90% of my college professors). I attended “Intro to Ramp Stream”, which was about airfield operations. There is also another course, “Intro to Passenger Stream”, that would be great for any aviation enthusiast looking to get more formal classroom knowledge. —- #airplanes #hkia #hkg #hk #hongkong #views #aviationgeek #hkig #hkiger #香港好去處 #hongkonginternationalairport #airport #runway #香港 #cheklapkok #香港國際機場 #vsco #vscocam #vscotravel #exploretocreate #travel #hkgirl #goodweather #blueskies #靚 #✈️ #🛫 #🛬
And then there are the spa and salon services, hundreds of shops (Chanel, Dior, Prada) and dining options, including ramen, dim sum, milk tea, Chinese-style barbecue and all kinds of familiar Western fast-food brands.
2. Munich Airport
We’re starting this week with our M – like #MondayMotivation. Our bright shining logo at the highway A92 lights you the way towards @munich_airport. Have a good start into your week! /SZ #mondaymorning #mondaymood #goodmorningvibes #starttheweekright #instatravel #mondayfunday #picoftheday #lights #lightup #shinebright #pink #prettyinpink #airportlife #airport #munichairport #flughafenmünchen #nofilter
»Taste & Style« – with our foodfestival we’re going to make your weekend perfect 😎🍽 Click yourself through the pictures, get hungry and come over from 12pm till sunday night! /CA #tasteandstyle #foodfestival #munichairport #flughafenmünchen #spanien #tapa #welttagdertapa #edeka #eatandstyle #goforgood #streetfood #igesmunich #enjoy #tasty #tastyweekend #food #delicious #essen #trinken #goodtimes #StyleYourM #band #music #goodtimes
An on-site brewery goes well with wiling away the hours, and at this German airport you can toast Oktoberfest year-round. Airbrä* is a restaurant and beer garden that brews its own and serves up Bavarian specialties – goulash, grilled pork knuckle and sausages.
Brewery tours are available on request, and if you come at the right time there may be live entertainment.
There are a number of vantage points to watch planes take off, including a terrace and observation deck. Visitor’s Park is an outdoor space with a playground, miniature golf, a flight simulator, interactive exhibits and – another beer garden.
3. Portland International Airport
Local distillery? Check. Seventeen-seat micro movie theatre? Check. Tallest free-standing cuckoo clock in the country? Check.
Add to that Powell’s Books’ new and used tomes, live musical performances, art exhibits and lots of options for local food, beverages and shopping, including Stumptown Coffee Roasters and a Made in Oregon shop.
4. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
Airport Library – the first permanent one in the world – recently reopened after renovations, giving visitors access to more than 1200 books, iPads loaded with music, touch screens with music and videos, and ongoing mini art and cultural exhibitions.
Wander around the terminals and you’ll find an indoor park with piped-in bird chirps, green space, lounge chairs and stationary bikes you ride to power your devices.
There’s also an internet lounge with desktop computers (for a fee), multiple spas, such fashionable shops as Dutch clothier Suitsupply, over-the-top restaurants (champagne and caviar at Bubbles Seafood & Wine), a meditation centre and multiple florists selling tulips.
The airport is about 20 minutes from the city by train, s o for longer layovers, stroopwafels are in reach.
5. Chicago O’Hare International Airport
ORD has its fair share of naysayers, but for those of us who live in Illinois, O’Hare has its perks; you just need to know where to look.
First, food. Publican Tavern – sister to a West Loop institution – has an outpost in Terminal 3, serving cocktails and gastropub fare as good as you’ll get anywhere.
Lovers of tortas and margaritas know to make a beeline for Tortas Frontera, a fast-casual Rick Bayless outfit in multiple terminals.
And travellers who want to take a taste of Chicago with them can stop at Garrett Popcorn for a tin of the addictive Garrett Mix.
There’s also art throughout the airport, and that Instagram-worthy trippy light installation by Michael Hayden called The Sky’s the Limit in the tunnel connecting concourses B and C of Terminal 1.
There’s a yoga room, multiple spas, a health club and pool offering day passes at the attached Hilton, as well as a vertical garden where some airport restaurants grow herbs and vegetables.
If you have an extra-long layover, hop on the Blue Line and be downtown in 40 minutes, or an enormous outlet mall – Fashion Outlets of Chicago – is a 3km cab ride away.
– THE WASHINGTON POST