Having a long layover can really put a damper on air travel, but if you’re lucky enough to pass through one of these airports, you might actually enjoy your time between flights. From art installations to full-service spas, these local and international airports provide plenty for passengers to do in between flights.
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San Francisco International Airport
You can enrich your mind while waiting for your flight at SFO by visiting the on-site Aviation Museum & Library, which is a museum you can visit for free. There are also numerous SFO Museum exhibits scattered throughout the international terminal. Or if you’d rather spend your time in self-reflection, you can meditate at the Berman Reflection Room or in one of the airport’s two dedicated yoga rooms.
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
Enjoy some live music during your layover at Sea-Tac Airport. There are musical performances every day of the week at rotating areas around the airport, and the musicians who are featured rotate as well, so you might be able to catch a new act every time you pass through.
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Portland International Airport
If you have time to kill at PDX airport in Portland, Ore., you can catch a short film at the Hollywood Theatre located on Concourse C. The movie theater shows short films telling stories specific to the Pacific Northwest, created by local filmmakers. Best of all, popping in to catch a film is totally free.
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Indianapolis International Airport
Relaxation isn’t something that’s usually associated with air travel, but it can be a part of your airport experience if you pay a visit to the on-site Enroute Spa at IND. Available services include full body massages, foot massages and even teeth whitening. The spa lists how long each service will take, so you can be sure to make your flight. Massage costs range from $25 for a 15-minute chair massage to $100 for a 60-minute full body massage.
Denver International Airport
DEN regularly offers events for its flyers, many of which are free. Events have included “Beer Flights,” which gives beer lovers the chance to sample local brews, and an on-site ice skating rink that’s free to use. Check FlyDenver.com/events to find out what’s happening during your next Denver layover.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
If you’re traveling on a pet-friendly airline with your furry friend, be sure to take advantage of ATL’s 1,000-square-foot dog park. The park is fully fenced in and offers biodegradable bags and plenty of benches, so you can relax while your dog stretches their legs in between flights.
John F. Kennedy International Airport
Among JFK’s dining options is Vino Volo Wine Room, where you can enjoy wine flights from around the world right in the heart of New York. All of the wines are hand-picked by the Vino Volo team.
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
There’s always plenty of artwork on display at DFW, including sculptures, paintings, mosaics and more created by local and international artists. If you know you’ll be passing through DFW, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a tour to learn all about the art you’ll see. If you’re short on time and can’t do a full tour, be sure to pay a quick visit to the DFW Sculpture Garden, which features sculptures by Mac Whitney, John Newman and Isaac Witkin.
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Los Angeles International Airport
You can de-stress while playing with puppies at LAX — which is undergoing a $14 billion renovation — through the airport’s Pets Unstressing Passengers program. With this program, volunteers bring in their registered therapy dogs for passengers to interact with as a way to provide stress relief and comfort ahead of their air travel.
McCarran International Airport
Air travel — especially when it comes with layovers — often means sitting for hours at a time, and there’s no better place to kill time than Las Vegas. McCarran’s FlyFit program encourages passengers to use their time at the airport to get in some steps by mapping out walking routes around the airport. The routes range from half a mile to 1.5 miles, so you can choose the route that fits your goals and how much time you have to kill. PDFs of the maps are available to download online. After all, walking is one of the best ways to improve your health at no cost.
Daniel K. Inouye International Airport
Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport brings Hawaii’s beauty and culture to everyone who passes through with its multiple on-site cultural gardens. The Chinese, Hawaiian and Japanese Gardens show the various influences that contribute to the island’s culture and allow passengers to enjoy natural beauty while taking a break from their travels.
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Orlando International Airport
Grabbing a bite at this airport in Orlando, Fla., doesn’t have to mean eating fast food. Orlando International Airport’s Cask & Larder offers Southern-style “farm-to-terminal dining,” and elevates your typical airport dining experience with seasonally driven dishes made from local ingredients. Menu staples include chicken biscuits with sausage gravy and sweet pepper jelly and shrimp and grits made with Key West pink shrimp.
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Detroit Metropolitan Airport
If you’re a military member, veteran or family member, you can relax at one of Detroit Metro’s Freedom Centers, which are complimentary armed service lounges. Inside the lounge, individuals on active duty, National Guard, reservists, service academy cadets, military dependents, military retirees and veterans can enjoy complimentary food and beverages, watch TV, use a computer and keep kids entertained at a designated children’s area filled with books and toys. Access to free lounges is just one of the ways military members can save money.
Dulles International Airport
Rotating performers, including musicians, singers, dancers and other artists, provide live entertainment throughout the year at Dulles International, located in Washington, D.C. This November, you can catch live classical music performances while waiting for the next leg of your trip.
Chicago O'Hare International Airport
Get in a workout before, after or in between flights, or just relax with access to a steam room, sauna and Jacuzzi with a day pass to the Hilton Athletic Club. The full-service gym is connected to O’Hare’s domestic terminals through underground tunnels, and accessible from the international terminal via the Airport Transit System.
Hamad International Airport
Located in Doha, Qatar, CNN called Hamad International Airport the “world’s most luxurious airport” — and for good reason. In addition to its beautiful architecture, the airport features surreal artwork, luxury shopping — including Gucci, Hermes and Rolex stores, and a high-end gym that’s equipped with a hydrotherapy tub and squash courts. The Vitality Wellbeing & Fitness Centre entrance fee starts at $48.
Dubai International Airport
If you’ve got time to spend in the United Arab Emirates, catch some Zs during a stop at DBX, the airport in Dubai, by booking an igloo-style sleep pod or a SnoozeCube. The Scandinavian-designed pods are located at the sleep ‘n fly lounge, where you can rent pods by the hour to take a nap, or just to have a quiet place to finish up some work. SnoozeCubes are more like mini hotel rooms, and are equipped with a bed, TV, storage and WiFi. Igloo pods start at $19 per hour, and SnoozeCubes start at $21.
Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport
You don’t have to leave the airport to get hotel-quality accommodations when you book an “air room” at Madrid-Barajas Airport in Spain. Rooms can be rented overnight or for three to six hours at a time, and include all the amenities of a traditional hotel such as courtesy mini-bar beverages and coffee, a hair dryer, toiletry accessories, flat-screen TVs, wake-up service, WiFi, breakfast and free local and international newspapers and magazines. An overnight stay costs $170.
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Incheon International Airport
There’s plenty to do to stay busy at Incheon International Airport, located in Incheon, South Korea. Visit the Oseong Mountain Observatory deck to get a panoramic view of the airport, catch a mini concert, experience the daily Walk of the Royal Family and get a souvenir picture with the reenactors, make a traditional craft at one of the Korea Traditional Culture Experience Centers or learn more about the country’s history at the Museum of Korea Culture.
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Wellington International Airport
If you’re just passing through Wellington and want to get a taste of New Zealand, be sure to stop by United Brew Works. The bar and restaurant serves up all the best food and drink Wellington has to offer, including local coffee roasters, craft beers and regional wines.
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Finished the book you came with? Pick up a new book for free at Helsinki Airport’s designated Book Swap area, which invites passengers to donate their finished books while getting some new reading material for their flight. Other airport amenities include a barbershop and art installations and exhibits throughout the terminals.
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Singapore Changi Airport
Changi Airport has lots of family-friendly and budget-friendly things to do and visit, including a Butterfly Garden, three totally free movie theaters and The Slide@T3 — Singapore’s tallest slide and the world’s tallest slide in an airport. There are also art installations throughout the airport and multiple spas for those looking to get pampered before or after a flight.
Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport
Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport — located in Shenzhen, China — was designed by Studio Fukas, and it’s worth the layover just to see the stunning architecture firsthand. A white honeycomb motif can be found throughout, giving the whole airport a futuristic feel.
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