Travel Tips

Best In-Airport Services: Ways to Enjoy Your Long Layover

Filed Under: Airports

A layover can be a business traveler's best friend … or worst nightmare. Twiddling your thumbs for 3 hours (or longer) in uncomfortable chairs at the gate can be excruciating. But many airports offer unique services to kill time, enhance productivity and even relax while you wait for a connecting or delayed flight. You just have to dig for them.

“Almost every large airport has something to offer. You just need to be in the right terminal, look for it, or ask airport and airline personnel,” says John E. DiScala, who flies 150,000 miles a year and owns the budget travel website, JohnnyJet.com. “I’m always surprised by the random services I find and they usually aren’t on the main floor.”

So forget reading the latest Economist or getting your shoes shined for the tenth time this month. There’s much more to be found at the airport. Here are the best in-airport services around the world to ease any layover anxieties.

Airport Supermarkets
Airport supermarkets are inexpensive places compared to in-terminal convenience stands that offer bottled water, candy, snacks and souvenirs. Supermarkets are located in airports in Zurich, Geneva and Singapore, to name a few. Airport supermarkets aren't usually easy to find, so inquire at an information desk. DiScala says Frankfurt International Airport's supermarket was “hopping” with flight attendants, pilots and airport workers on a recent visit, which convinced him it was the best-kept, budget-friendly secret in the airport.

Airport Healthcare Services
Catch up on medical appointments while you wait for your plane -- and plan ahead when necessary. Flu shots and other healthcare services are available at airports in dozens of cities nationwide, including Chicago, Baltimore, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Charlotte. A dentist has set-up shop in the central terminal building in LaGuardia Airport. Primary care, physical therapy and travel immunizations are available at JFK International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport, in pre-screening areas. Walk-in clinics and pharmacies operate in Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta, Philadelphia International and Orlando International, to name a few. Facilities usually accept most major healthcare insurance plans.

Fun Airport Activities
Singapore International Airport features the country's tallest water slide, a movie theater and gardens to keep you occupied, while Hong Kong International Airport features viewing areas of planes taking off. Take a gamble in the Holland Casino or watch a 6D, 5-minute movie at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, where you can also begin a city tour on the Floating Dutchman. Or practice your golf at Palm Beach International's indoor putting green. For $15, work-out, swim or use the steam room in the Hilton Hotel facilities connected to Terminal 2 at Chicago O'Hare International Airport. Go to AirportGyms.com to find similar facilities.

Airport Art Exhibits
Don't be afraid to wander around, and pay special attention to wall exhibits and art displays, which are quite good in many large airports and change periodically, says Clem Bason, president of the travel web company, the Hotwire Group. A couple of examples: San Diego International Airport is currently exhibiting birthstones by the Gemological Institute of America, and Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport has featured Van Gogh masterpieces from its free Rijksmuseum Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, located just beyond passport control.

Airport Tastings and Demonstrations
Many European airports feature retail demo areas sponsored by manufacturers like Sony, Samsung and Apple. “You can get caught up on the latest and greatest gadgets and kill some time with productive play and entertainment,” Bason says. Tastings are a great way to pass time and try new products. For example, the cognac brand, Courvoisier, recently initiated popup, interactive “Le Nez” stations at airports in cities such as Paris and Amsterdam, where you learn how to identify cognac's aromas and tastes while blindfolded. Vino Volo, which is located in 12 US airports, offers mini-wine tastings while you wait.

Kayleigh Kulp is a freelance lifestyle and personal finance journalist for Fox Business Network and CNN.

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