Getting from A to B as quickly as possible is always the highest priority for business travellers but if there is a delay or flight cancellation, you could find yourself with a few hours up your sleeve before your onward flight. Often the go-to strategy is to utilise this time to catch up on emails or phone calls. However, next time you’re unexpectedly stranded, there may well be far more stimulating ways to pass the time as Airports can in fact, prove to be an interesting playground for travellers in transit.
From shopping to spa treatments, mini golf to movies, airports around the world are being transformed into interactive playgrounds. With many international airports having undergone major renovations and expansions, passenger terminals and airline lounges now offer a myriad of entertainment and lifestyle activities to keep travellers entertained, relaxed and pampered between flights.
Take a look at the activities we’ve uncovered which are available to help you beat the boredom if you're unexpectedly stranded.
Luxury spas are now standard features at the world’s major airports. The Cowshed Spas at Virgin Atlantic’s Clubhouses in the UK offer everything from a manicure to a massage in a luxury setting for Virgin passengers travelling through Heathrow and Gatwick. Timeless spas operate at three sites in Terminal 3 of Dubai International airport and offer a wide range of facials and body treatments for weary passengers.
Whether you’re looking for designer labels or a last minute gift, Heathrow is the place to be. London’s famous airport has the world’s best shopping including more than 80 stores, such as Harrods, Tiffany and Co, Prada and Gucci and recent arrivals Louis Vuitton and Fortnum & Mason.
If you’re looking for a second-hand bargain and passing through at the right time of year, you might be able to attend a lost and found auction at Miami International Airport (MIA). Selling items that have gone MIA at MIA, hundreds of objects go under the hammer including phones, suitcases, laptops and jewellery. Because you get to keep whatever is inside any suitcases you buy, occasionally, the shoppers actually get very lucky. There are reports that a few years ago, one person bought a suitcase and it had $10,000 worth of British Pounds inside.
Catch a movie
Hong Kong International Airport has a UA IMAX theatre, which is reportedly the largest in Asia. The cinema is located on level six of Terminal 2, near two other passenger favourites, the I-Sport sport simulator and the PlayStation Gateway.
Changi Airport in Singapore has movie theatres in Terminals 2 and 3 and has a 3D Xperience Zone featuring 3D gaming stations, 3D TV and photo booths.
Travellers passing through Birmingham Airport can brighten their smile by taking advantage of a 20-minute teeth whitening service offered by the Smile Company.
If you feel like a drink, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport has been named the world’s best airport bar at the 2014 Airport Food and Beverage Awards. For a bite to eat, Hong Kong International Airport comes out on top, winning the gong for World’s Best Airport Dining in the 2014 Skytrax Awards. Tastings are a great way to pass the time and Vino Volo, which is located in 12 US airports, offers mini-wine tastings while you wait.
Take the plunge or play a round
The Ambassador Hotel at Singapore’s change airport has a rooftop pool located within the airport’s Transit Mall. Guests can swim, sleep or use the 24-hour gym without having to clear immigration.
Singapore’s Changi Airport also invites you to take a ride on The Slide@T3, the world's tallest slide in an airport. Standing at a height of 12 metres high or four storeys tall, shriek your way down the slide while reaching top speeds of up to 6 metres per second!
Golfers can play around at the Sky City Nine Eagles golf Course near Terminal 2 at Hong Kong International Airport. Equipment rental, baggage storage and a pro-shop are available on site. Alternatively, you can practice your golf at Palm Beach International's indoor putting green.
Random acts of culture
Don't be afraid to wander around, and pay special attention to wall exhibits and art displays, which are quite good in many large airports and change periodically. Miami International Airport, has their own Division of Fine Arts & Cultural Affairs which is responsible for putting on displays, installations and rotating art works around the airport terminals. Helsinki Airport doesn’t just do fine art but it does fashion, design and photography as well. The airport’s Fashion Gallery (gate area 31) showcases the best in Finnish fashion design and clothing brands in a number of photo exhibitions. The airport also has their own Design Gallery (gate area 11), Photo Gallery (gate area 26-27) and Art Gallery. Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport has featured Van Gogh masterpieces from its free Rijksmuseum, located just beyond passport control. And in Tokyo many cool and definitely thought-provoking installations have taken place at the airport.
Try your luck
Where else but Las Vegas? If you’re wondering what to do with your spare change before you take off for home. MacCarran International Airport has more than 1200 slot machines in its terminals. Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport also offers you the opportunity to relieve yourself of some loose change with its Holland Casino, situated at the Holland Boulevard between gate E and F.
Tie the knot
Several airports allow travellers to tie the knot in the terminal or other dedicated facilities. Amsterdam’s major airport, Schiphol, has become one of the most popular airport wedding destinations and has a number of options for couples to choose from including hangar-based ceremonies.
Lounge in award-winning style
The 2014 World Airline Awards judged Qatar Airways lounge as the World’s Best Business Class Airline Lounge. With stunning decor and 5-star facilities, it feels more a boutique hotel or private club than a lounge. This is a venue where spending time is a pleasure.
So the next time, you see the heart-sinking flash of DELAYED or CANCELLED when you’re travelling for business, look on the bright side... you may be able to get some unexpected putting practice in!