Boredom before Boarding: The Best Ways to Wait It out at the Airport

Tracy Stewart, February 24, 2015
Fares from Washington DC:

    Getting through security was a breeze and you're at the gate, with two whole hours to spare. The problem now is how to pass the time until your flight boards.

    You could loaf aimlessly around the news stand, but have you thought to glance at the airport map? You may be surprised at the new amenities and features that are right under your nose, as Airfarewatchdog has been finding out.

    Calm those nerves

    Those passing through the McNamara Terminal of Detroit Metropolitan Airport need not be frightened. You are not boarding a flying saucer, and no one slipped anything funny in your drink. What you're experiencing is a synchronized light and sound show, stretched along the 685-feet-long tunnel. We imagine that you'll be so relaxed by the time you reach the other end, you'll have forgotten all about how lousy that last flight was.

    Know what else is guaranteed to sooth your nerves? Fish! No, not eating them. Watching them. At San Francisco International's Terminal 1, you'll find a top-notch aquarium stocked with creatures from coral reefs and the Amazon. The aquarium is located before security for Gates 40-48.

    Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

    If you're wondering how you'll get the kids to sleep after take-off, try tuckering them out. Chicago O'Hare Airport has an indoor Kids on the Fly playground with a cockpit, air traffic control tower, and a ticket counter at the departure level of Terminal 2.

    Also, Munich International Airport houses Kinderland -- a place where the kids can enjoy arts and crafts, a climbing tower, games, and other such attractions. Plus, for a minimal fee, it offers childcare.

    The great outdoors

    When you can't stand another second under fluorescent airport lights, North Carolina's Charlotte-Douglas Airport holds a tree-lined atrium where travelers can sit in wooden rocking chairs while enjoying the sun. Although it's indoors, the large windows let in lots of sunlight.

    Or, if you're in Honolulu Airport, slide on your Foster Grants and stroll through the beautifully landscaped Cultural Gardens. You'll also find outdoor waiting areas in Palm Springs International, and Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City.

    Gee, your hair smells terrific

    When strategic splashes of water just won't do the trick, it's time to hit the showers. Passengers at Melbourne Airport in Australia can freshen up with a free shower in Terminal 2. In Amsterdam's Schiphol, showers are available for connecting and departing passengers, for a fee of 15 Euros.

    Ditch the airport

    It's probably not so wise to leave the airport if you've only got an hour-long layover, but those with plenty of time to kill may as well do so in town. Zurich Airport is a 10-15-minute train ride away from downtown Zurich, as is Hartsfield International in Atlanta and Reagan National in D.C.



    Shop, drop, and roll

    Dubai International Airport houses one of the largest and most popular duty free shopping centers in the world, carrying over 35,000 product lines. We aren't talking salt-water taffy and camel magnets here. Dubai Duty Free is for the serious shopper.

    And for high-rolling raffle fanatics, there's the ongoing Finest Surprise Contest, where $139 buys you a 1-in-1,000 chance to win a bourgie new car. Other duty-free faves include Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, London Heathrow, and, of course, Paris Charles de Gaulle.

    Splash-n-dash

    Squeeze in a few laps before your 10-hour homeward haul. If you happen to be in Singapore's Changi Airport, look for the swimming pool and jacuzzi in Terminal 1. For the super specific price of $13.91, you get pool access, showers, a towel, and a free drink.



    Museum-quality

    The Amsterdam Schiphol Airport partnered with the city's Rijksmuseum to create a first-class airport art museum. This isn't the sort of yawn-inducing stuff you'd saw back in your room at the Ramada, no siree. Schiphol holds a permanent collection of works by Dutch masters and a temporary exhibition, which changes throughout the year.

    Fore!

    Incheon International Airport may be known as Seoul's smaller, alternative airport, but it is certainly top choice among sports fans. Bored golfers can drop by the Incheon Golf Club for a 330-yard driving range, as well as a game of billiards.

    Sleep it off

    Let's face it. There is simply no configuration of slumping and tilting that will ever get you to sleep in that chair. If you really need to nap, and you happen to be in London Gatwick, Heathrow, or Amsterdam Schiphol, keep your eyes peeled for Yotel. Based on Japanese capsule hotels, Yotel cabins come complete with beds, showers, television, internet access and other basics. That's not to mention the peace of mind in knowing that no one can see you drooling in your sleep.

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