Make the Most of your Airport Time

Forbes India Global Business Traveller's Guide tells you what best to do at the world’s busiest airports

Published: May 15, 2010 06:37:01 AM IST
Updated: May 15, 2010 03:41:20 PM IST
Make the Most of your Airport Time
VIRGIN ATLANTIC'S lounge at Heathrow

LHR London Heathrow
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.

SIN SINGAPORE CHANGI

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Butterfly Garden, Changi, Singapore

Complexity: 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 Frankfurt
Complexity: 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 Restaurant
Lounges: 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.

 

Make the Most of your Airport Time
Image: Maher Attar / Sygma / Corbis
DUTY FREE shopping at Dubai International Airport

DXB Dubai International
Complexity: 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 International
Complexity: 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

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Complexity:
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 International
Complexity: 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)

 

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(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.)

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