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If you’ve ever endured a lengthy airport transfer, this is going to sound familiar...
Uncomfortable airport chairs, where the chance of sleep is so unlikely it’s as if the initial brief was to design an insomniac’s nightmare. The endless pursuit of free Wi-Fi (and the casual lingering outside Starbucks without succumbing to your sixth purchase in as many hours). And Duty Free shopping, which becomes so frequent you’ve memorised the perfume prices. And eight hours later you possess ten bags of novelty M&Ms - and an obligatory Toblerone.
Thankfully, many airports have acknowledged our pain.
1. Changi Airport, Singapore
Singapore’s Changi airport boasts a Balinese inspired swimming pool, allowing flyers to watch the runway from a rooftop pool, rather than a stuffy airport lounge.
For a little under NZ$16, you can utilise the chaise lounges, cabanas, Jacuzzi and a selection of books and towels, as well as complimentary showers and a poolside bar.
Here’s a tip – pack your togs and a Ziploc bag in your hand luggage. Take a refreshing dip in the pool, freshen-up and don’t worry about your soggy bathers until you touch down in your final destination. Find it at the Transit Hotel, terminal 1, near D gates on level 3.
Update: As of early 2019, Changi will also feature two indoor mazes: a traditional hedge maze and a mirrored maze. Don't get so lost you miss your flight!
2. Narita Airport, Japan
What are the two things long haul travel has you craving the most? We’ll hazard a guess – sleep and clean teeth. The good news is Japan’s Narita Airport provides both.
Better known as a capsule hotel, Nine Hours is located inside terminal 2 at Narita Airport, just a minute’s walk from the main terminal. With simple pods equipped with a mattress and a pillow, you can crawl inside and enjoy a few hours shut-eye before your ongoing journey.
Towels, tooth brushes and nightwear are all provided, as are personal lockers, showers and bathrooms. Choose from one of three options; $60 for a long stay, $18 for shorter naps and $12 to use the shower facilities. Pods are for single occupancy only and segregated into male and female areas.
Perfect if your blow-up plane pillow has a sleep success rate of zilch.
3. Munich Franz-Josef Airport, Germany
Ask any air steward what the first rule for hiccup-free (quite literally) air travel is, and they’ll all say the same thing – never fly with a hangover. Ever. Not even an inkling.
So what did the Germans do? Why, they built a microbrewery in Munich’s Franz-Josef Airport. The renegades.
As the world’s only airport brewery, complete with a glass-roofed beer garden, trees, vines and a selection of seasonal beers to suit every taste bud, this Bavarian-style tavern boasts its own brewery and a selection of top beers that are as cold and as frothy as they are extensive. Start with half a litre of Germany’s finest and wash it down with a side serving of sauerkraut. A more than pleasant way to whittle away a few tedious airport hours, just don’t get so cray, they ban you from your flight.
"There is a colonial woman on the wing!"
4. Seoul Incheon Airport, Korea
Something you probably didn’t think possible while waiting for your connecting flight – ice-skating. But that’s exactly what the good folk at Seoul Incheon Airport have provided. With a 150 person capacity and live ice skating performances throughout the day, the Ice Forest Skating Rink is the first of its kind inside an airport.
Open daily from 10am – 8pm, entry is free, you’ll just need to pay a small fee for skates, gloves and a helmet (approximately $6.50). Afterwards (or before depending how long it’s been since your last wash) the airport also offers free shower facilities.
Not only will you arrive home smelling fresh, you’ll have mastered your flying sit spin to absolute perfection.
5. Vancouver Airport, Canada
After 12 hours of inactivity and airline food that you eat simply because you’re bored, it might not be the first thing you seek in an airport, but you’d be surprised how good a post-flight workout feels.
Heeeeey, don't top right 'X' us just yet....
The Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel is situated above the United States check-in desks on the east wing of the airport. For $20 the well-appointed health club is also available for jet setters awaiting connecting flights. Get the heart pumping on the treadmills, bikes and rowing machines, or (and here’s the good bit) relax in the three lane lap pool, whirlpool and saunas.
If you don’t want to waste valuable in-flight cabin allowance on togs and gym gear, there’s even a complimentary towel service and Reebok clothing to rent for approximately $12.
See, not as heinous as you first envisaged.
Airport transfers; an inevitable consequence of international air travel, but with modern airports facilitating every passenger with new entertainment options, it needn’t be a negative one.
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