What to Do during Long Airport Layovers
Do you spend so much time in airports that you sometimes wonder
if you have been dropped into a scene from The Terminal? It is
increasingly difficult to find direct flights to many destinations, and
dreaded flight delays are becoming regular occurrences. Consequently,
more travelers are having longer layovers, sometimes for six or more
hours at a time. So what do you do with all that time spent waiting?
Some airports have beefed up their amenities to include such
extravagances as ice skating rinks, butterfly grottos, spa treatments,
virtual libraries, and meditation rooms. Others are allowing passengers
with long layovers to leave the airport, sometimes on free airport
transit tours that promote local tourism. Ultimately, however, it is up
to the traveler to figure out the best way to spend those precious
hours on a long layover.
Take Advantage of Unique Airport Amenities
Singapore Changi Airport is one of the
world's best airports to get stuck in with a long layover. It is like
visiting an amusement park with a list of amenities most travelers only
dream about. You can relax in the free two-story butterfly grotto with
a 27-foot waterfall for example, or go for a swim in the Balinese
rooftop pool, take a shower, and get a tasty drink for a $13 admission.
Get your technology and media fix with complimentary game consoles,
movie theaters, Internet kiosks and charging stations, or indulge in a
bevy of salon services, including a fish-nibbling-pedicure or a hot
No matter what time of year it is, you will welcome a long
layover at Munich Airport. It has both a seasonal wave pool where
passengers can try surfing a stationary wave
and a seasonal ice skating rink where travelers can show off their
triple salchows. If it's German beer you crave, you don't have to leave
the airport to find a local brewery. Airbrau is the airport's popular
brewery and Bavarian-style tavern complete with an outdoor beer garden.
You can even attend a live concert right in the airport. Jet
Blue passengers enjoy free popup music concerts in Terminal 5 by famous
artists like Taylor Swift at JFK International Airport. In the
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, more than a dozen weekly live
concerts are performed for ticketed passengers on four stages in both
the east and west concourses.
Travelers can get a dose of culture at Amsterdam Schiphol
Airport's famous (and free) Rijks Museum. Follow that with some Zen
time in the airport's meditation room. In the San Francisco Airport
International Terminal, you can enjoy shrimp tempura udon and a
specialty sushi roll at Ebisu Japanese Restaurant, then head to the
airport yoga room to do Seated Heart Opener pose if you've eaten too
shows you which airports offer a cardio workout "on the fly." They
have an exhaustive list of airport gyms and fitness centers throughout
the United States and Canada. Passengers on a long layover can search
the database to see what kind of exercise is offered at their airport
from cardio to swimming to yoga.
When it is rest that you need, airport Yotel sleeping pods
offer a convenient and affordable solution. At London's Heathrow
Airport, those with a long layover can stay in one of 32 en suite pod
rooms for a nap and a shower, or just some work or alone time. Located
in Terminal 4, sleeping pods can be rented for four-hour minimums for
as little as $10 per hour. Other locations include London's Gatwick
Airport and Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport. Yotel is now serving New York
City and San Francisco in the United States, too.
Kick back in the cushy luxury of an airport VIP lounge on your
next layover for a mere $27 no matter which class or airline you fly.
Priority Pass has a program open to everyone for an annual membership
of $99. You get access to upscale, quiet VIP lounges where you can
enjoy complimentary magazines and newspapers, drinks and snacks, Wi-Fi,
comfy seating, entertainment and work spaces, showers, beds, and more.
You can upgrade your membership to 10 free lounge visits, then $27 each
when you reach #11, or upgrade to the top tier and get unlimited lounge
visits for a single annual fee.
Escape the Airport to Explore the Area
When you have a long layover, sometimes the best idea is to
escape into the surrounding city. At Minneapolis/Saint Paul
International Airport, you can take the light rail transit right from
Lindbergh's Terminal 1 or Humphrey's Terminal 2 just a few minutes to
the massive indoor Mall of America
, complete with an amusement park.
You'll need at least a six-hour layover to factor in traffic
both ways, but Los Angeles LAX Airport provides the perfect layover
opportunity to go to the beach. Take a taxi to the popular Santa Monica
Pier for lunch, shopping, celebrity sighting, and a suntan. Security
lines can be long at this busy airport, so make sure you allow plenty
of time to get back to your flight.
Windsor Castle, home to the Queen of England, is a $24 cab
ride from London's Heathrow Airport. Lucky travelers with just the
right layover may get to see the Castle's thirty-minute Changing of the Guard ceremony
that begins at 10:50 a.m. on High Street. Or, take the Underground
right from the airport to Harrods for a haircut, and follow it up with
a pint or two of your favorite ale at the Green Man Pub. If beer isn't
your thing, Harrods also serves up the quintessential English tea at
The Tea Room on the second floor.
Hong Kong International Airport is the mother lode of airport
amenities from their Aviation Discovery Center to their IMAX theater,
but it is the Sky City Nine Eagles golf course next door that PGA fans
will adore. Sky City is a nine-hole course near Terminal 2 and adjacent
to Asia-World Expo. It features golf instruction, equipment rental,
floodlights for the nighttime practice range, and a Thai restaurant.
Many airports now offer transit tours for passengers with
layovers of two to six hours; some are even free as a way to promote
tourism. In Seoul's Incheon International Airport, for example,
passengers with a six-hour layover can take a unique tour of the DMZ
along the border to North Korea for $100. With airport transit tours as
short as two hours, you can use your layover time to revive before the
next leg of your trip.
Find Ways to Entertain Yourself at the Airport
Combine the usual standbys like reading, people watching,
eating, surfing the Internet, and trying to nap, with modern airport
amenities and transit tours, and you are probably set. However, if you
are still at a loss for how to spend your layover, then maybe one of
these 101 Things to Do While Bored in an Airport
will give you something useful (or at least fun) to do.
Break out your guitar, violin, or other instrument and perform an impromptu concert or lead a sing-along
When passengers at Newark Liberty International Airport were confined
to tight quarters during a security lockdown, Josh Wilson led everyone
in a few refrains of the Beatles song, 'Hey Jude.' Any extrovert with
an instrument can add a little brevity to a tense situation; it is the
perfect antidote to airport boredom too!
A surefire way to entertain yourself if you can't leave the
airport on a long layover is to get online and check out the ultimate
guide for long layovers at Layover Guide
They have gathered a plethora of layover ideas for a growing number of
airports and their host cities, and are constantly adding new
destinations from around the world. Check out the airport you're
sitting in to see if you could be doing something better with your
layover. If not, plot your next route to trade that airport in for a
If all else fails, take a page from Richard Dunn's playbook for the most creative way to spend a long layover ever, and make an airport music video
with your iPhone.
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