LHR London HeathrowSIN SINGAPORE CHANGI Butterfly Garden, Changi, SingaporeComplexity:
Complexity: Passenger experience much improved in recent times, with one new terminal and others being upgraded.
Eating and Drinking: Everything from basic bangars ‘n’ mash, and fish ‘n’ chips to fine dining. Plane Food, Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant, has a great preflight view of the runways.
Things to Do: Power nap in a ‘pod’ at a Yotel — hire a 150 sq ft room by the hour; space for luggage in retractable bins below bed; every room has wi-fi, flat TVs and massage showers.
Duty Free Shopping: Perfumes and electronics cheaper on High Street during sales. Pick up your favourite tipple from World of Whiskeys. Personal shopping consultants in green uniforms help you decide.
What’s New: Driverless pods will carry passengers from parking area to main terminals. All terminals being revamped. Big question: Will it finally get approval for its third runway?
HKG Hong Kong International
Complexity: Land/sea connections to mainland China. Two terminals linked by a central access and walkways.
Things to Do: Catch movie at the 4D extreme screen with 7 multi-sensory special effects
Lounges: Has three main lounges, The Wing, The Pier and the Arrival. All are well received, and the Cathay Pacific lounge is popular.
What’s New: The Sky-pier, a new cross border ferry terminal to be expanded for more air-to-sea and sea-to-air transfers. Key link to the fast growing Pearl river delta region in China.
Three terminals; a new no-frills one without aero-bridges for LCCs.Things to Do:
Foot massage at The Fish Spa; butterfly garden; entertainment deck with free Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 consoles; a Balinese-themed rooftop swimming pool. You can get transit visa for a trip to the city if you are stopping for more than 5 hours.Lounges:
A number of public areas that allow you to unwind. Airline lounges are standard.Duty Free Shopping:
Cheaper to shop for electronics and perfumes in the city.What’s New:
Already linked to 200 cities; efforts on to increase that number. One flight every 2 minutes at present. FRA FrankfurtComplexity:
Complex airport. Packed at regular times, becomes difficult during bad weather.Eating and Drinking:
Himmel & Erde: Try the German peasant dish after which the restaurant is named.Things to Do:
Ride in a vintage WW II Junker Ju 52. Two casinos (admission is free).Lounges:
Lufthansa maintains a terminal exclusively for its first class passengers. Personalised security screening, bubble baths, cigar room. Passengers driven to the plane in an S class Merc or a Porsche Panamera.Duty Free Shopping:
Pick up cheeses and fine wine. For the more adventurous, Beate Uhse boasts of lingerie, accessories and DVDs for exciting moments.
What’s New: Night flying restrictions by local authorities threaten to restrict aircraft movement.
7PVG (Shanghai) Pudong International
Complexity: Simple to navigate; prominent signages in English.Eating and Drinking:
Canglang Ting Restaurant and Hong Fangzi Western Food RestaurantLounges:
Poor food selection in the lounges is a persistent complaint.Duty Free Shopping:
Chinese silk and brocade from the government shops.What’s New:
New terminal just started. More high-speed train connections from the airport.
DXB Dubai InternationalComplexity:
Simple to navigate, linear terminal design.Things to Do:
Long stopover? Check-in at the Dubai International hotel at the Sheikh Rashid terminal, which offers hourly rates, to freshen up. Caveat: Not cheap and no views.Lounges:
All passengers can pay and use the Department of Civil Aviation Lounges. There are two ‘Quiet’ lounges, and prayer rooms.Duty Free Shopping:
Outsells any other mall in the city-state, with the best prices in the world for perfumes, electronics and liquor. What’s New:
Special concourse for Emirates’ A380 planes being built. But the big one coming up, by 2014, is the new Al Maktoum Airport: It will be 10 times larger.JFK (New York) John F. Kennedy InternationalComplexity:
Seven terminals over 880 acres, with a monorail connecting everything. Not very easy to navigate.Eating and Drinking:
Steaks at Todd English’s Bonfire restaurant at Terminal 2. Vino Volo for wines and a reasonably-priced, tapas-style menu at T8. Plus a wine tasting room.Things to Do:
XpresSpa offers vigorous back rubs, facials, and even Brazilian waxing at eight locations at the airport.Duty Free Shopping:
The Metropolitan Museum of Art store at Terminal 8 for posters, prints, books and sculptures. What’s New:
Major revamp of one of the four runways will reduce delays. SYD Sydney
Difficult transit from domestic to international. Expensive car parking. Long queues for customs.Things to Do:
If you have more than 5 hours between flights, and a visa, Bondi beach has direct train connections from the airport.
Duty Free Shopping: Aussie wines and chocolates. World of Wine offers over a 100 wines that are not for sale elsewhere.What’s new:
International terminal undergoing a $419 million upgrade, expect better facilities from June this year.QUANTAS' MASSAGE PARLOUR, Sydney LAX LA InternationalComplexity:
Nine terminals in a horse shoe pattern. A city within a city. A free shuttle service operates within the loop.Eating and Drinking:
Encounter,’ a wacky, over the top, outer-space-themed building that serves ‘art food’.Things to Do:
Gawk at the public art display or people-watch. It’s a busy airport, but out of condition now with not much to do.Duty Free Shopping:
Uninspiring. DME (Moscow) Domodedovo International Eating and Drinking:
Elki-Palki Express, on the first floor is a Russian style taverna that serves herring, pickled mushrooms and the like with a choice of vodkas.Things to Do:
Believers can go to the Archangel Michael Orthodox church, full service at noon on Wed and Thu. Shop at Le Futur for amazing electrical goods like a waist massager.Lounges:
12 business lounges operated by various airlines. And two by the airport company, open to all for a fee. Free, 24 hour Mother and Kid lounge.Duty Free Shopping:
Russian souvenirs, vodka and caviar. (Compiled by Divya Subramaniam)
(This story appears in the 21 May, 2010 issue of Forbes India. You can buy our tablet version from Magzter.com. To visit our Archives, click here.)