The airport is usually a place we want to escape from…fast. We're either sprinting through security to catch our flight or returning home bleary-eyed from a long trip and anxious to get to our own bed. But sometimes, we are simply stuck with a long layover or a dreaded delay. Never fear! Nowadays, airports are going above and beyond to offer way more than a slice at Sbarro or a fancy shoeshine to encourage hanging around. In fact, you may want to change your flight pattern to pass through one of these seriously cool travel hubs:
Exercise + Health
Those lucky enough to fly through Singapore’s Changi Airport are in for a treat at one of the world’s best airports. Got a chunk of time? Go for a swim at the Balinese-themed rooftop pool and bar. It's hard to be mad about a delay with an umbrella drink in hand. Or just take some time to smell the flowers and stroll through the rooftop cactus, sunflower, or orchid gardens.
Golfers can take a travel break at Hong Kong International Airport’s outdoor nine-hole green just outside Terminal 2. You can trade your luggage for rental equipment while playing a round.
Need some exercise beyond what may feel like mile-long sprints to your gate? Bike the pathway that connects Portland International to the regional trail system. There are even bike racks and a repair station for ease of use.
Yoga rooms are becoming commonplace among the airports for those needing to destress. You can find them at DFW, SFO, and ORD. And not only does Chicago O’Hare have a yoga room, but there’s also an 8,000 square-foot athletic club complete with steam room, sauna, lap pool, and workout equipment all inside the airport Hilton. Simply pay the day rate (which is cheaper for Hilton points members) and get your sweat on.
Catch Some Zzzs
It's no secret that flights can leave you feeling like a zombie. Instead of sprawling out over three chairs at an empty gate with one eye open to protect your bag, new sleeping pods are popping up all over the world. Take a snooze at Minute Suites in Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Philadelphia International Airports. It will cost you $38 for a one-hour minimum, but could be worth it to get that peaceful power nap on a long travel day.
The Yotel at London Heathrow, Gatwick, and Amsterdam airports offers beds with ensuite bathrooms for just $38 for four hours. Or you can rent a soundproof Snoozecube at Dubai International Airport or a NapCab in Munich or Berlin.
Fun + Games
Digiboo kiosks in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Boise, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Houston, Portland, and Seattle use a flash drive to download digital versions of more than 500 movies you can watch on your laptop or tablet in the terminal or aboard your flight.
Looking for a bigger movie experience? Hong Kong has an in-airport IMAX Theatre, which is actually the largest screen in the whole city.
Of course, Singapore’s Changi Airport has plenty of fun things to keep you busy with gaming kiosks for Xbox 360, Kinect, and PlayStation plus two free 24-hour movie theaters.
Flying through Miami? Get some love from Casey, the airport’s K-9 Ambassador. The Golden Retriever walks through the airport twice a week to lend a helping paw to passengers that might need some extra attention and provides free licks to all.
In Sacramento, certified pet therapy dogs roam the terminals to make the travel experience more enjoyable. The Boarding Area Relaxation Corps. (B.A.R.C), is a partnership between the airport and Sacramento nonprofit Lend a Heart Lend a Hand.
Denver International’s Canine Airport Therapy Squad (CATS) is yet another way for travelers to relieve some stress. Volunteers provide their time, and their family pet (all members of the Alliance of Therapy Dogs), outfitted in a “Pet Me” vest to bring a smile to to the face of weary travelers.