Airports can actually be quite cool places to hang out. These days you can practically live there (like you-know-who in the you-know-which famous movie) and still lead a decent life. And on the other hand, sometimes, even a layover can feel like a lifetime. So what can you do not to go crazy at the airport?
# Go to a museum and get some culture and art
These days you can literally absorb culture anywhere — even go to a museum in an airport terminal. One of the oldest is the 1940 Air Terminal Museum located in Houston, Texas at William P. Hobby Airport. The building is among the few surviving examples of the 1940s art deco airport architecture.
In 1980, San Francisco International Airport opened its own museum, which was the first cultural institution of its kind ever to be open in an international airport. It’s open daily and some of them are even accessible without a boarding pass.
Singapore Changi Airport, undoubtedly being one of the most modern airports out there, offers an impressive range of sculptures at its Terminal 3, next to a free-to-enter air travel gallery. And at Terminal 1 you can enjoy the world’s largest kinetic sculpture — Kinetic Rain — or the Social Tree interactive exhibit in the Central Piazza.
# Work out
Not everyone is aware that airports are equipped with a gym but these days they are at most bigger airports all around the world. At the Roam Fitness at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, a one-time fee of $25 will give you unlimited single access to all their gym equipment plus a private bathroom with toiletries, towels etc. If you’re an avid traveller, you can even get a subscription. A similar business plan works at many other airports.
In case your gear is tightly packed up or somewhere in transit, at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport you can rent gear including shoes at a small charge.
Or you can bring your own yoga mat (or not) and make use of the San Francisco International Airport yoga rooms for no charge. Helsinki Airport also launched a fitness area at no charge for travellers to stretch and relax and its easy-to-use equipment is even suited for children.
Alternatively, you could see if one of the on-site hotels has a swimming pool which would grant you access for a fee.
# Relax and get treated
Many airports these days also provide massages and spas. Dubai Airport has many spas across all terminals, providing massages, aromatherapy, body scrubs, reflexology, hair cuts and styles, mani- and pedicures. You can even hop into the sauna or a jacuzzi there.
# Go on a date
In an era of all those different dating apps one can install on their phone, a date might be a fun way to make the time at an airport go faster. Airports might be the perfect place to meet with strangers as there are always plenty of people around you plus if it doesn’t go so well, it’s likely you will never see each other again once your plane takes off.
# Get a room
Not necessarily a follow-up of your date, but getting a room to put your feet up is always a good idea to freshen up. London Heathrow and Gatwick, Amsterdam Schiphol or Paris Charles de Gaulle all offer YOTEL facilities inspired by Japanese capsule hotels.
You can book a standard room for as little as four hours and on just about 23 sq m (75 sq ft) you’ll get a private bathroom with a shower, bed, desk and a flat-screen TV.
# Play an instrument
Okay, so you might not make any money off of playing in an airport but at least you will make some people happy. Or maybe you’ll even become a famous international star.
# Pick up a book
Reading is a great way to spend your airport time. Santiago de Chile Airport offers a free book swap at its Departures area. If you’ve just finished your book, head there to pick up a new one and leave yours behind for the next traveller to pick up.
# Play golf
At Hong Kong Airport take a quick shuttle bus from Terminal 2 to the Sky City Nine Eagle Golf Course and play a few holes.