Oh, the weather outside is frightful. But the complimentary Wi-Fi and live music are delightful. And since you’re stuck in the airport with no place to go, let’s at least, well, make the most of it. If you’re on the unfortunate end of a flight delay or cancellation this winter, our holiday wish to you is that you at least get stuck at one of these five amenity-filled, passenger-friendly airports around the globe.
One of the more forward-thinking airports (check out SFO Museum’s revolving exhibits and local-themed eateries), SFO shows its jolly side this time of year. The popular “You Are Hear” music series returns Nov. 21 and Dec. 19 to 22, and features a diverse lineup of live performances like Meklit Hadero’s New York-tinged jazz and The Golden Gate Boys Choir & Bellringers’ seasonal fare. The airport will also have a holiday lighting ceremony on December 4. But if none of that is enough to get you over a three-hour delay, there’s always the 150-square-foot yoga room you can retreat to for a few minutes of holiday Zen.
Heathrow could easily be a replica of Oxford Street in London — it has a slew of high-end boutiques throughout its terminals to help kill the time before leaving the U.K. Pick up a few Christmas gifts at the 11,000-square-foot Harrods luxury department store. Feast on fine Prunier caviar and Balik salmon at the swank Caviar House & Prunier Seafood Bar’s outposts. Get a blowout at the Bumble & Bumble salon in the 8,000-square-foot Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, or take a nap (or shower) in one of 32 cabins with en-suite bathrooms and free Internet access at YOTEL hotel.
As the world’s busiest airport, ATL is a popular layover stop. And while there’s plenty of cuisine (One Flew South’s spirited global menu) and culture (the new international terminal’s $5 million in art installations) to keep your mind off horrifying travel itineraries, all you might need is a nap. Thankfully, ATL is one of the two airports in America — Philadelphia International Airport being the other— with a Minute Suites, a place where you can escape terminal bustle for some peace and quiet. First hour: $32. Each additional 15 minutes: $8. Sleeping off that just-cancelled flight announcement: a priceless holiday gift.
Unlike most harried airports, SIN has a sense of serenity and a healthy dose of nature, courtesy of the various gardens placed throughout its terminals, including several koi ponds and a cactus garden. The gorgeous outdoor sunflower garden in Terminal 2 is a unique retreat, particularly at night when the area is illuminated with various lighting effects. For a little sensory overload, watch music videos on a 50-inch plasma TV in the MTV Booth, or go watch your children frolic around the just-opened Angry Birds Space display, a play area filled with interactive lights and sounds that gives young ones an out-of-this-world holiday experience.
With an average December snowfall of 11 inches in the Twin Cities, the chances of getting stuck at MSP are decent. Thanks to some cool distractions though, all isn’t lost. For starters, the airport offers free Wi-Fi throughout its 2 million square feet of public space. That’s great news for the airport’s other little treat — Digiboo, a kiosk where you can download a movie program onto your Android PC, laptop, tablet or phone. It allows you to rent or purchase TV shows and semi-current films like The Amazing Spider-Man and The Campaign. And if watching Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis’ antics aren’t enough to transform you from Ebenezer Scrooge, there’s just no hope.
Photos Courtesy of BAA Limited, Caviar House & Prunier and Changi Airport Group