The Best Airports For A Long Layover
Airport layovers don’t have to be a nightmare experience. Today, airports are increasingly finding ways to stop their passengers from spending hours sitting on an uncomfortable chair with absolutely nothing to do. Some have provided amazing facilities, while others have even gone as far as offering those in transit a free tour of the city. Granted, we’d all love to fly direct (and in business class) every time we travel, but for times when that simply isn’t possible, here are the airports that will make a long layover a dream rather than a nightmare
Changi Airport, Singapore
Don’t just take our word for it; Changi has been voted the best airport in the world six years in a row in the prestigious Skytrax World Airport Awards. It’s incredibly efficient and sparkling clean, which makes layovers a pleasure. More to the point though, it has all sorts of amenities which are usually only reserved for those flying at the front of the plane! What kind of amenities? What about two 24-hour movie theatres which are totally free! Or children’s playgrounds, butterfly gardens and natural skylights? Or rooftop pools, the hedge maze, slides and a retail and dining complex sprawling across ten storeys that’s coming this year? Really, Changi is an incredible place to spend a few hours while waiting to board your next flight.
Ataturk Airport, Istanbul
Ataturk airport itself isn’t spectacular. However, the TourIstanbul initiative offered by Turkish Airlines is. Given that Turkish Airlines fly to more countries than any other airline in the world, it’s likely that you’ll find yourself on-board one of their planes at some point. If that’s the case, you will almost want to end up with a long layover as passengers on Turkish Airlines are entitled to either a free tour of the city’s top sights with meals included, or sometimes even a night in a top hotel in Istanbul. Either way, it’s a great opportunity to see two destinations for the price of one, and you’ll fall in love with Istanbul; the city that straddles two continents
Charles de Gaulle, Paris
Sadly, it’s only a select few who’ll benefit from the Air France business and first class lounges at Charles de Gaulle in Paris. But for those lucky enough to have a layover with Air France or a partner airline, they’ll get to experience the flagship lounges and see what all the fuss is about. The first class lounge is (predictably) incredible. Not only do you get chauffeured there from the tarmac in a limo but you’re also assigned a private attendant who’ll keep you updated about your flight status. There are shower rooms, a bar stocked with top drawer spirits and fine dining to rival any top restaurant; think organic Norwegian salmon, lobster and soufflés. The business class lounge easily rivals many other airlines’ first class lounges – with an extensive buffet and chefs preparing freshly cooked food, plus a Clarins spa, two private saunas and a cocktail bar serving up destination-inspired cocktails every evening.
Doha, Qatar Airways
The home of Qatar Airways, Hamad Airport in Doha, has been attracting lots of attention lately for its ultra-modern design and incredible service. It’s even been suggested by some to be the most luxurious airport in the world. Spending ten hours there will be more fun than spending ten on the plane - it’s completely spotless, quiet and is perfect for relaxing, with leather and chrome chairs to keep you comfortable. Tasteful modern art is dotted all over the terminal, and there are plenty of luxury boutiques to browse and pass away the time.
If you do choose to leave the airport, Qatar air offers a Doha city tour at around R140 (depending on the exchange rate). You’ll see The Pearl, The Museum of Islamic Art, Katara and Souq Waqif. For longer layovers, you can go on adventure trip to the desert from as little as R850 – again, dependent on exchange rate.