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Transits we love

April 23, 2012

On these layovers, terminals become temporary tourist attractions

Anis Ramli

THERE was a time when flying meant the excitement anticipating the next destination, the zeal of discovering colourful travel partners, the delight of being pampered even in cattle class (remember those ice creams after a meal?); and for the business traveller, the option to actually fly business, on the shortest route possible, with as little layovers as possible. Air travel used to be dignified.

Of course, those days are long gone.

Between chaotic boarding regulations and aircraft trying to maximise profits by cramping as many seats as they can into economy, flying has become a nightmare. But luckily, the same cannot be said of the airport experience. Many international airport terminals are taking the edge out of air travel by focusing to entertain and charm passengers on the ground. From butterfly gardens to a nine-hole golf course, these are some hubs we don’t mind having a long layover.

Hong Kong International (HKG): Do more than just stretch the legs. Perfect your swing golf swing instead. The 9-hole golf course located outside Terminal 2 opens 24/7. Movies buffs–watch this space. The opening of a new IMAX theatre is scheduled mid-year.

Singapore Changi (SIN) This consistently-ranked-among-the-world’s-best airport never fails to surprise. Play Pocahontas at the butterfly garden that’s home to over 1,000 native species (T3), have a splash at the Balinese-inspired rooftop swimming pool (T1), or get in touch with your inner child at the world’s tallest airport slide (T3).

Seoul Incheon (ICN) Take advantage of the airport’s many cultural and arts programmes, where scheduled live performances change daily and hands-on classes on traditional Korean crafts are conducted for your pleasure. Or, come face-to-face with UNESCO heritage artifacts as you travel in time at the Cultural Museum of Korea. Need to be in the now? Pop by the Spa On Air for a traditional Korean scrub or body massage.

London Heathrow (LHR) Who needs to go downtown when Terminal 5 is as good as Oxford Street? A sprawling 11,000 sqft Harrods is the centerpiece here, but if you don’t care for green totes and furry teddys, then there’s always the luxury brands such as Dior, Mulberry and Gucci to tackle the tastebuds.

Munich Airport (MUC) Come winter, the covered outdoor atrium between T1 and T2 turns into a winter wonderland. Enjoy ice-skating and shop at the winter market with stalls selling various food, gifts and crafts. In the summer, the area turns into a beach volleyball court. Be sure to pack your sunscreen.


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