For stress-free travel, fly through these entertainment-packed hubs.
When crisscrossing the globe, the last thing you want is to get stranded at a cramped airport terminal with lackluster cuisine choices, few amenities and several hours of boredom to spare. Add insanely long TSA lines to the mix, and bracing yourself for the peak-season travel rush – when crowds and stress levels reach new heights – can seem like a nightmare. Well, fret not. Happily, at the world's leading airports, pre-flight amenities and services are getting an upgrade with quality dining options, luxury retailers and diverse entertainment choices to help mitigate restlessness and maximize comfort. To help guide you to places where you can enjoy your time in transit, we spoke with seasoned road warriors and industry insiders to get the lowdown on standout airport amenities around the world.
Admire art at San Francisco International Airport.
At San Francisco's international airport, you can relieve stress by checking out rotating art installations on display, thanks to the San Francisco Art Commission and SFO Museum. In the International Terminal's third level (pre-security), you can check out changing exhibits like "The Allure of Art Nouveau: 1890-1914" through August 14 or pick up a souvenir at the SFMOMA Museum Store. After scoping out the art, continue to relax and unwind at the on-site 150-square-foot yoga facility in Terminal 2 or leisurely sample a glass of wine from Napa Valley at Vin Volo. With these amenities, along with other bells and whistles, like quiet reading rooms where weary road warriors can meditate or work, "it's quite impressive what San Francisco has done," says Tom Spagnola, senior vice president, supplier relations at CheapOair.
Embrace the elements at Singapore Changi Airport.
"The Singapore Changi Airport has no small shortage of amazing amenities, including a two-floor butterfly garden, complimentary movies at the on-site theater, a swimming pool, wellness spa, art installations and the world's tallest airport slide," says Travelzoo deal expert Nile Cappello. Soak up the great outdoors and Singapore's striking scenery at the Balinese-inspired rooftop pool or Water Lily Garden in Terminal 1, or if you're seeking entertainment for young kids, venture indoors to Terminal 2 to scope out the gaming facility, which includes Xbox 360 and a theater, among other amenities. The four-story slide in Terminal 3 is also worth checking out if you're traveling with younger ones in tow, Spagnola says.
Play a round of golf at Hong Kong International Airport.
If you're itching to get on the greens, you can easily perfect your swing at Hong Kong International Airport, thanks to the SkyCity Nine Eagles Golf Course, which neighbors Terminal 2 and offers clubs available for rent. If you would rather stay inside the airport, check out GreenLive AIR, which features simulation golf courses, Cappello advises. And once you've hit the links, check out the Aviation Discovery Centre, which offers hands-on exhibits on aviation, or the "Dream Come True Park, where little ones can role play their dream jobs," she says. Plus, the airport houses the biggest IMAX screen in Hong Kong, along with cultural events and entertainment.
Sample Bavarian brews at Munich Airport.
If you're stuck waiting for your flight out of Germany and you're a beer lover, head straight to Airbräu, an authentic tavern that houses its own brewery and live musical entertainment. Aside from the suds, draws include Visitors Park, which features "historic aircrafts, a rescue helicopter, playground and souvenir shop," Cappello says. Another perk if you're traveling with kids: "The Munich Airport has an amazing child care that can make traveling with kids a breeze," she notes, pointing to Kinderland day care center, where you can drop off the kids for free babysitting services for the first hour. What's more, there are rotating amenities that change throughout the year, she says, highlighting polo matches and a winter Christmas Market in the past.
Hit the spa and the shops at London's Heathrow Airport.
At Heathrow, it's easy to stay active at the gym, take leisurely strolls or get a massage, says George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog.com. Plus, you'll have access to a myriad of shops, not to mention an 11,000-square-foot Harrods outpost, to enjoy some retail therapy while you kill time in Terminal 5. Even better, there are plenty of excellent airport hotels, Hobica says, pointing to the Sofitel London Heathrow as an easily accessible option, which is connected to Terminal 5.
Explore your surroundings at Vancouver International Airport.
With its tranquil setting and easy-to-navigate terminals, this airport is ideal for a stress-free layover, Cappello says. "The Vancouver International Airport offers customizable passenger guides, which detail step-by-step directions to navigate the terminals, and five separate parking options, for every type of need," she explains. Plus, if you want to stretch your legs outside the terminals, you can easily use public transit to head to Templeton Station, which features high-end labels at its McArthur Design Outlet. "This same transportation system can be used to get in and out of the city center with ease," Cappello adds.
Hit the outdoor rooftop lounge at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Getting stranded is less headache-inducing at JetBlue's serene outdoor lounge, located atop Terminal 5. Adult passengers, kids and pets alike can take advantage of the manicured space, which is open to all fliers – even if they're not JetBlue passengers. Plus, there's ample space to take furry friends for a leisurely walk. Back inside, you can also check out the airport's new JetNap EnergyPods, where you can sit back and enjoy soothing rhythms and vibrations, or catch up on some shut-eye while you wait for your plane.
Unwind over a leisurely meal at Boston's Logan International Airport.
Whether you want pub fare or a memorable dish at a celebrity-helmed restaurant, Boston's major airport offers plenty of options to pique your interest. In Terminal B, check out Bonfire, a South American-themed steakhouse that's an extension of famed chef Todd English's Boston institutions. And in Terminal A, don't miss grabbing a table at Lucky's Lounge, a retro-inspired hot spot serving sliders, brick-oven pizzas and other crowd-pleasers. After you've indulged in a quality meal, there are other ways to unwind and calm your nerves as you kill time at the airport, Hobica says. "I've seen rocking chairs in Charlotte and Boston [airports]," he says, highlighting Logan's mini-massage kiosks as other spots to kick back.