Home DESTINATION SPOTLIGHT Where's the best airport to sit and wait?
Where's the best airport to sit and wait? PDF Print E-mail

Cat in a bag

Sometimes you just need a nice, quiet place to relax

USAToday recently ran an article naming the ten best airports in the world to be stuck in for long layovers. First of all, when your flight is cancelled or delayed for ten hours, no airport could be any kind of fun to be sitting and fuming for those hours and hours. Anger and frustration blot out everything else.

However, in our travels, we did agree with some of the USAToday choices, while others we didn’t. Most U.S. airports, unless you belong to the exclusive club for rich travelers, offer only hard benches and harder floors, overpriced fast food joints and tired gift shops. If you have to be stranded, here are our opinions about some not-so-lousy airports:

1. Narita Airport, Tokyo: Some time ago, the old Tokyo Haneda Airport offered little Pullman-like sleeping bunks to travelers for about $10 for eight hours. They were very convenient for privacy, and to stretch out and snooze for those who had long waits for flights. The new, super-modern Narita has all kinds of great restaurants, a duty-free store and lots of upscale shopping, but no in-airport sleep facilities.

It does offer day rooms with shower cubicles available to departing passengers who’ve completed passport control formalities. The day rooms have lots of conveniences, except that most needed one, a chance to stretch out and sleep undisturbed. There are benches in the waiting areas available when the airport isn’t crowded, but security is so tight, they wake up sleepers just about every hour for passport checks. For more information, go to narita-airport.jp

2. Incheon Airport, Seoul: The first time we heard about Incheon, it was spelled Inchon, and a U.S. Marine landing force went ashore in 1950 from U.S. Navy transports to kick the invading Commies out of South Korea. Those Gyrenes and old General Doug MacArthur would never recognize the place today.

For travelers who want to try their luck, there’s a luxury casino, and for kids there’s an extensive (and expensive) video game room. The beautiful flower and sculpture gardens around the airport are fine for taking a relaxing stroll while you gripe about your late, late flight. If you have a long, boring layover at Incheon, there’s miniature golf and a driving range. For more information, go to airport.kr

3. Changi Airport, Singapore: This city-state is one of the most rigid in the world about requiring respect for people and property. Do some grafiti at Changi, and you ain’t gonna go anywhere else for six months. The upside of it is that it’s by far the cleanest airport in the world, and eveything is sparkling and shiny.

No phony nurse fundraisers, bums, pickpockets or panhandlers here, as you’d encounter at other major world airports. You’ll meet only super-efficient, smiling and helpful employees. If you must spend some wait time in Changi, you can find excellent restaurants and food stands, a duty free shop, padded benches, a movie theater and adult and kid video games in the entertainment lounge. For more information, go to changiairport.com

Munich Airport was often in the news during the Nazi regime from 1933 to 1945, and was the unfortunate site of the murder of Israeli athletes during the 1960 Olympics. However, today it has progressed far beyond those unhappy memories. It’s a beautiful, modern facility, with much to offer to the air passenger who may have to spend several waiting hours there.

Not as expansive as Berlin’s Templehof Airport, Munich has continuous free movies and all kinds of kid games, including the latest electronic ones in its Kinderterminals. The German restaurants and beer gardens offer all kinds of activities for adults. For travelers there during the year-end holidays, they’ll find some of the greatest hand-made toys and other Christmas gift items in the world. For more information, go to munich-airport.de

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol: Probably the most clean and efficient airport in Europe, it also has all kinds of diversions for those who must spend hours there waiting for flights. In addition to great shopping and dining, there are all kinds of fitness facilities, and for delayed art lovers, it boasts its own branch of Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. For those who may want to try their luck, there’s the Holland Casino. For more informattion, go to schiphol.nl

Heathrow Airport, England: This big facility does have something like the old Tokyo Airport sleeping bunks for travelers who must spend many hours there. On the airport grounds is the Yotel, which offers little rooms with bed, private bathroom, computer connections and a TV. Heathrow also has great ethnic restaurants, a duty free store and many ritzy, name-brand shoppes. For more information, go to heathrowairport.com


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