Words by Carlie Tucker
The dreaded layover. Striking fear into the hearts of the most seasoned of business travellers, it's normally seen as a colossal waste of time. This is especially true if you're stuck in an airport that doesn't offer much in the way of entertainment.
All is not lost, though, as airport design is increasingly accommodating to waiting passengers with clever inclusions that go beyond the standard food courts and duty free shopping. Whether you're looking for some quiet time, or you want to unwind after a busy day, here are six airports that you'll be happy to spend some extra time in.
- Airport Code: LHR
- 3rd busiest international airport in the world
- Highlight: 11,000 square foot Harrods in Terminal 5
Terminal 5 and Terminal 2 are a layover paradise. A staggering mix of high-end boutiques ensure more than enough retail opportunity. Consult a personal shopper or have a brand new shirt pressed and packaged in time for your flight. There are also more than 100 restaurants to choose from. This includes offerings from London's most famous celebrity chefs. Gordon Ramsay's Plane Food occupies Terminal 5, while Heston Blumenthal's The Perfectionist's Cafe holds a spot in Terminal 2.
Dubai International Airport
- Airport Code: DXB
- Busiest international airport in the world
- Highlight: The open-air Zen gardens with hidden mist machines
The Dubai International Airport is known for its first class shopping opportunities. In fact, it is home to the world's largest duty free shop with more than 5,300 square metres dedicated to shopping. From luxury brands to gold bars sold by the gram, this airport has a store front to suit your tastes and needs. Shopping aside, there is also a 24-hour gym, swimming pool, showers, free Wifi and plenty of dining options.
Changi International Airport, Singapore
- Airport Code: SIN
- Fifth busiest international airport in the world
- Highlight: An entertainment deck with complimentary XBox and PlayStation systems
A veritable wonderland for the young at heart, this award winning airport incorporates a 40 foot slide – the tallest in Singapore. There is also a butterfly garden, nature trail and cactus and sunflower gardens. Busy travellers will also appreciate such business-friendly amenities as free internet terminals, free Wifi, usb ports, power outlets and access to business centres.
Amsterdam Schiphol Airport
- Airport Code: AMS
- Fourth busiest airport in Europe
- Highlight: Home to Xpres – Europe's first airport spa
While it is the only airport in the world to stay in the same location for close to 100 years, Schiphol's terminals are alive with modern convenience and plenty of local flavour. Watch the hours fly by in the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam museum, which showcases artworks by Dutch masters and is completely free to passengers. Those looking for a little peace and quiet will appreciate the airport library, or head to the Silence Centre, which is completely device free.
Dallas Fort Worth International
- Airport Code: DFW
- Seventh busiest international airport in the world
- Highlight: The Skylink allows you to explore all five terminals for free
Far from being a sterile port from which to connect to your final destination, this US airport provides a perfect spot for business travellers to make the most of their layover time. Free Wifi can be accessed throughout the airport and there are plenty of ports to recharge your mobile devices. Fitness fanatics can participate in a yoga class, or do a lap around the walking track. Alternatively, take the time to catch up on some sleep in one of the Minute Suites.
Incheon International Airport, Seoul
- Airport Code: ICN
- Largest airport in South Korea
- Highlight: Full size ice rink made of artificial ice
Business travellers will find an abundance of the usual staples, such as quality food options, free Wifi, sleeping pods and business facilities; though, Incheon takes layover fun to the next level with complementary movie theatres, an 18-hole putting course and driving range. There is also a cultural centre, which allows passengers to get hands-on with activities such as traditional Korean paper handicrafts.
San Francisco International Airport
- Airport Code: SFO
- Second largest airport in California
- Highlight: The recently finished Terminal 2 is America's greenest airport terminal
SFO was the first airport in the US to have its own accredited museum program. The terminals integrate exhibits across a wide range, including the 'United We Stand: Female Flight Attendant Uniforms of United Airlines'. There is also a branch of the Steinhart Aquarium and a yoga room in the recently added Terminal 2 to help you stretch it out and focus your mind before your next flight.
Image credits: Heathrow Airport/Changi International Airport/Dallas Fort Worth International Airport/Getty Images