Stuck wait­ing for your plane? Here’s your guide to air­port ad­ven­tures be­yond duty free

Business Traveler (USA) - - CONTENTS - WORDS LARK GOULD

Pre­flights of Imag­i­na­tion Stuck wait­ing for your plane? Here’s your guide to air­port ad­ven­tures be­yond duty free

If you think air­ports are just places to board planes, think again. Air­ports are places where the av­er­age trav­eler spends 137 min­utes per trip lin­ing up, sit­ting down, pac­ing, wait­ing, pac­ing – and more wait­ing – to board their planes. How­ever, air­ports are now be­com­ing des­ti­na­tions in their own right – hubs of shop­ping, stylish din­ing, en­ter­tain­ment, ex­er­cise, even pam­per­ing.

This phe­nom­e­non is called “dwell time,” ac­cord­ing to Dolby & Holder con­sult­ing group, and they es­ti­mate pas­sen­gers are wast­ing 47 per­cent of it, re­sult­ing in some $6 bil­lion in lost rev­enues for air­ports.

Some air­ports are get­ting wise to ways of en­ter­tain­ing this cap­tive au­di­ence. Cer­tainly brand-fo­cused shop­ping found this to be a win­ner long ago, and even while brick and mor­tar re­tail sees dark times ahead, air­port re­tail is see­ing sunny skies with no clouds in sight.

Mi­cro­mar­ket Mon­i­tor holds that rev­enues from US and Cana­dian air­port re­tail­ing should rise from about $4.2 bil­lion in 2015 to nearly $10 bil­lion by 2020, mark­ing a com­pound an­nual growth rate of nearly 20 per­cent. World­wide pro­jec­tions ap­proach $90 bil­lion by 2023, ac­cord­ing to Cre­dence Re­search, es­pe­cially as more fam­i­lies around the globe join the mid­dle class.

But air­ports have be­come much more than alt-malls for trav­el­ers. They have turned into des­ti­na­tions in their own right and places to con­sider for pre-trip fun be­fore fly­ing.

“Air­ports are a re­flec­tion of their com­mu­nity and you see air­ports re­ally em­brac­ing this,” says An­gela Git­tens, di­rec­tor gen­eral of Air­ports Coun­cil In­ter­na­tional based in Mon­treal. “In­cheon works with the Korean Cultural In­sti­tute and of­fers all sorts of pro­grams. Changi in Sin­ga­pore is well known for a whole series of pas­sen­ger items – a movie theater, a but­ter­fly gar­den, spe­cial chil­dren’s ar­eas – all re­ally mem­o­rable,” Git­tens notes.

“We used to feel it was a suc­cess if your flight was un­event­ful,” she con­cludes. “Now it’s about de­light­ing pas­sen­gers. De­sign­ers are find­ing ways to in­stall won­der and make trav­el­ers feel like be­ing a kid again.”


In­ter­na­tional air­ports in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sin­ga­pore and soon Is­tan­bul ri­val small cities in size and of­fer­ings with mini-ho­tels, at­trac­tions and cre­ative amenities, to say noth­ing of the shop­ping to be done. The new yet-to-be-named Is­tan­bul in­ter­na­tional air­port sched­uled to open at the end of Oc­to­ber has a price tag of $12 bil­lion and a foot­print the size of Man­hat­tan. It will have a 451-cap­sule Yo­tel amid miles of re­tail out­lets and din­ing op­tions.

Sin­ga­pore’s Changi In­ter­na­tional Air­port (SIN) is packed with cool dis­cov­er­ies. It fea­tures a rooftop pool and Jacuzzi in its tran­sit ho­tel lo­cated in Ter­mi­nal 1 (open to non-guest pas­sen­gers as well for a small en­trance fee). Changi also of­fers what is cur­rently the world’s tallest air­port slide (four sto­ries) in Ter­mi­nal 3, near the But­ter­fly Gar­den.

This lush set­ting of flow­ers is home to maybe 1,000 trop­i­cal but­ter­flies in a va­ri­ety of species. Mean­while, Jewel Changi Air­port, new 10-story ho­tel and en­ter­tain­ment com­plex boast­ing new shop­ping and din­ing amid lux­u­ri­ant plant life and walk­ing trails, and the world’s tallest in­door wa­ter­fall, opens next year.

Sim­i­larly, In­cheon In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Seoul (ICN) brings a mu­seum show­cas­ing Korean cul­ture and col­or­ful tra­di­tional cos­tumes. Have a peek at the Great Dha­rani Su­tra of Im­mac­u­late and Pure, the old­est known wooden slab print in the world, dat­ing back to the eighth cen­tury. Part of the Tra­di­tional Korean Cultural Ex­pe­ri­ence Zone, the fo­cus is on ex­pe­ri­enc­ing Korea even if you are ac­tu­ally not go­ing there.

A long lay­over can be filled with im­mers­ing in tra­di­tional crafts, such as Hanji, tra­di­tional Korean pa­per, or Dan­cheong paint­work. Or try­ing on some tra­di­tional Korean cloth­ing for size. More ad­ven­tur­ous tran­sient trav­el­ers can take a quick day tour of Seoul from the air­port and still make their flight with quick city ex­cur­sions that last one- to five hours.

In­cheon is not the only air­port to sport its own mu­seum. Am­s­ter­dam’s Schiphol In­ter­na­tional Air­port (AMS) of­fers a mini Ri­jksmu­seum where those on the go or who missed their shot at see­ing the famed Ri­jksmu­seum in town, can their fix of Dutch and Nordic art and see works by the likes of Van Gogh, Brueghel, Jan Steen and Fer­di­nand Bol, among oth­ers. The mu­seum is lo­cated in the Schiphol ter­mi­nal, be­tween piers E and F.


If you can’t fly away when you want, you can skate away at Mu­nich In­ter­na­tional Air­port (MUC). A sea­sonal ice rink sees the ac­tion be­tween Ter­mi­nals 1 and 2. The months of Novem­ber and De­cem­ber are rife with Christ­mas mar­kets, and if you can­not get to the Christ­mas mar­kets they come to you – at the air­port. The rink be­comes a win­ter won­der­land of snow-flecked pine trees and some 40 stands of­fer­ing sea­sonal re­fresh­ments and stock­ing stuffer trin­kets. Bring skates or rent them. The ice is free.

At Van­cou­ver In­ter­na­tional Air­port (YVR), a 30,000-gal­lon aquar­ium show­cases thou­sands of sea crea­tures to keep any­one mes­mer­ized while await­ing con­nec­tions: wolf eels, starfish, hun­dreds of sea urchins, and

10 species of rock­fish, sculpins, jel­ly­fish and 2,550 anemones – mostly col­lected from north Pa­cific wa­ters. Find it on level 3 of the In­ter­na­tional Ter­mi­nal.

Closer to home, US air­ports are adding un­usual amenities to put them on the radar for lay­over-weary trav­el­ers. San Fran­cisco In­ter­na­tional Air­port (SFO) of­fers a 24/7 yoga stu­dio in Ter­mi­nal 2 to prac­tice war­rior poses be­tween flights. There is also a med­i­ta­tion room for quiet mo­ments and a ther­apy pig avail­able for those who have a fear of fly­ing.

For less quiet mo­ments there is the SFO Mu­seum’s Video Arts Cen­ter where trav­el­ers can watch shorts from con­tem­po­rary artists and film­mak­ers. As the gallery is lo­cated in a pre-se­cu­rity area on the de­par­tures level of In­ter­na­tional Ter­mi­nal, it’s open to non-fliers as well with daily oper­at­ing hours of 5:00 AM to mid­night.

Port­land In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Ore­gon (PDX) lets trav­el­ers get their hands dirty at a bike assem­bly sta­tion. As Port­land is a one of the most bike-friendly cities in the US, the sta­tion is a con­ve­nience for trav­el­ers who want to as­sem­ble or dis­as­sem­ble their bikes be­fore check­ing into a flight or head­ing out to the city. The air­port also of­fers a bike/walk­ing path for the en­er­getic and rest­less.

If they slow down enough they might get to taste the vodka, rum or aqua­vit at the House Spir­its Dis­tillery, known mostly for its crafted Amer­i­can sin­gle malt whiskey. It’s the only dis­tiller with an air­port tast­ing room. Cock­tail flights are $15, whiskey flights, $20. Movie buffs may opt for the Hol­ly­wood Theatre that has a free 17-seat "mi­crocin­ema" on Con­course C. Road-weary trav­el­ers can also find there a Dragontree Spa with treat­ments rang­ing from 25-min­utes to nearly two hours for some pre­flight pam­per­ing.

Mean­while, at Chicago’s O’Hare In­ter­na­tional Air­port (ORD) gaze at a bra­chiosaurus skele­ton. On loan from Chicago’s Field Mu­seum of Nat­u­ral His­tory, it mea­sures four sto­ries high and 72 feet in length – around half the length of a larger Boe­ing 737 but just as tall.

Gen­eral Mitchell In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Mil­wau­kee (MKE) keeps a ping pong ta­ble avail­able for hy­per­ac­tive pas­sen­gers. At Bal­ti­more/Wash­ing­ton In­ter­na­tional Air­port (BWI) trav­el­ers can get a car­dio work­out in be­fore the long sit at Roam Fit­ness next to gate D1. It’s cur­rently the only post-se­cu­rity fit­ness fa­cil­ity of­fer­ing a gym, work­out gear and shower fa­cil­i­ties. A day pass is $25.


Those seek­ing pre­flight pam­per­ing are in luck. Plenty of air­ports fea­ture a spa where feet can soak, nails can be buffed, and all the stress of get­ting to the gate can be rubbed out. From Tai­wan to Thai­land to Dubai to Las Ve­gas, there are a range of air­port spas that usu­ally of­fer treat­ments from the sur­round­ing re­gion.

Per­haps the most in­trigu­ing of these is “the hot spring near­est the sky.” An on­sen or nat­u­ral geo­ther­mal pools for soak­ing is found in the bath­house at New Chi­tose Air­port in Hokkaido, Ja­pan (CTS). After­wards you can rest in a pri­vate room and likely miss your flight, or you can try to re­lax in a room full of loungers with a bunch of de­par­ture screens blink­ing ur­gently in your face.

Fi­nally, for those who want to in­dulge their taste buds in­stead, a lit­tle caviar will take you far, even to 35,000 feet. The Tom Bradley In­ter­na­tional Ter­mi­nal at LAX opened a Pet­rossian caviar bar in the newly re­done ter­mi­nal. Try a chilled flute of Tat­tinger’s or choose from 20 types of vod­kas. And you can take it with you. Pur­chase a “caviar in the air” pic­nic pack with a caviar se­lec­tion and choice, bli­nis and crème fraiche packed in an in­su­lated carry-on Pet­rossian pouch. Tins start at $74.

Im­age: Sin­ga­pore’s Changi In­ter­na­tional Air­port but­ter­fly gar­den

From Top: In­cheon In­ter­na­tional Air­port - Great Dha­rani Su­tra of Im­mac­u­late and Pure; Schiphol In­ter­na­tional Air­port - mini Ri­jksmu­seum

From Top: Van­cou­ver In­ter­na­tional Air­port aquar­ium; Pet­rossian caviar bar at The Tom Bradley In­ter­na­tional Ter­mi­nal, LAX

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.