I love Airports.
I love watching people with all their stuff get off the plane and wonder if they’re here to start a big adventure or if they’re returning home after 2 years abroad.
I love seeing people run to meet their loved ones who they haven’t seen in forever and how Grandparents always exclaim “How big you’ve gotten!!” when you see them hug their Grandchildren.
I think Airports always excite me in some way because it gives me the feeling of adventure. Whenever you’re at an airport, you’re usually going somewhere for a holiday or for an overseas adventure. Otherwise you’re picking up someone that you’re excited to see!
When I landed in Los Angeles last year, one of the things I was actually excited to see was the Airport! Weird I know…
LAX was the first massive Airport I’d ever been to. When I flew in I couldn’t believe how many planes there were! Apparently LAX has 1,578 landings and takeoffs in the space of 24 hours. This is including Private Planes and Cargo Aircraft. That’s a plane on the runway pretty much every minute.
When I left LA bound for San Francisco, I couldn’t believe how long we spent on the tarmac, just joining a queue waiting for our turn to take off.
Coming from little New Zealand, there’s probably about 5 minutes between moving away from the Terminal and actually taking off.
In this post, I thought it would be interesting to look into all the Airports around the world, and find out how big and visit-worthy some actually are.
I’d always wanted to go to Heathrow and LAX but I’ve found out that even if you’re at an Airport that you really really want to say you’ve been to, it’s actually not that fun when you’re in a Terminal that doesn’t actually have any of the cool stuff 😦 (I’m looking at you JFK for not having Duty Free MAC and Victoria Secrets in Terminal 7)
Singapore Changi Airport
Singapore is usually a place to ‘stop over’ when you’re on your way to South East Asia, London or Dubai. They had over 55.4 million people pass through Changi Airport last year and have around 6,500 flights going in and out a week so it’s no wonder they’ve made it one of the coolest Airports in the world!
They have an awesome Rooftop Garden that is full of Cacti from Asia, America and Africa. Not to mention a Water Lily Garden with the Amazon Water Lily – one of the largest aquatic plants in the world. When you’re visiting the garden, you can stop and have a drink at their bar within the garden or head to the Swimming Pool for a swim while over-looking the runway!
When you head to Terminal 2, you’ll be in natures heaven with their three themed Gardens. They have an Orchid Garden with over 700 Orchids, the Sunflower Garden with Sunflowers grown from the Airports very own nursery and the Enchanted Garden inside where you can listen to the ‘sounds of nature’ and marvel at the giant glass bouquet centerpiece.
If flowers and nature aren’t really your thing, Changi Airport has an Entertainment Deck in Terminal 2 where you can watch movies in their Movie Theater, Play Xbox or sit in the MTV Booth and catch up on Teen Mom and Geordie Shore.
To top it all off, they even have a slide in the Arrivals Hall of Terminal 3 where you can whizz down 12 meters!
The other cool thing about Changi Airport, is that instead of being part of a elite ‘Frequent Flier group’ who can only use the Airport Lounges, you can actually pay to use one of the 3 lounges for Singapore $35.31 – $58.85 for 5 hours.
In the Plaza Premium Lounge there’s massage and nail care services, complimentary Wi-Fi, charging stations for your phones, TV channels, newspapers, magazines and a chef who will prepare made-to-order dishes in front of you at their live-cooking counters. If you have a long stop-over and don’t want to sleep on the floor in the Airport, they also have Private Resting Suites with showers and somewhere you can have a nap.
Incheon Airport – South Korea
The largest Airport in South Korea. It’s been rated as the world’s Cleanest Airport and the world’s best International Transit Airport by Skytrax. If you like gardens, Incheon Airport boasts a 1,980-square-meter Star Garden on the second floor with over 150 species of plants. You can walk through the plants, bamboo, herbs and ferns, as well as oversee some of the Airport on their outdoor balcony.
The service at this Airport is fantastic. I’ve heard you only wait about 12 minutes in arrivals immigration and not that much longer in departures which makes arriving super quick and easy.
The Airport staff are fantastic with helping you out if you’re lost and can speak good English, not to mention they also have a 0.0001% baggage mishandling rate so for them to loose your bags is verrrrry uncommon!
If you’re pregnant or have children under the age of 3 with you, one of the Airlines at the Airport, Asiana Airlines offers quicker check-in processes, transport via cart, priority boarding, and expedited baggage claims to make your life that little bit easier.
How cool is this, they have an Ice Skating Rink called Ice Forest at the airport!
It’s open every day from 10am until 8pm and Located on floor B1.
If ice-skating isn’t really your thing and you want to chill for a little bit before your flight, they have a CGV Theater to watch the latest movies in instead.
Missing your Golf while you’re travelling?
Never fear, they have a Golf Course here as well!
It’s not technically inside the airport, but it’s a free 5 minute shuttle ride away. They have an 18-hole golf course, a driving range (if you don’t have enough time for a full game) and golfing lessons for beginners.
If you didn’t do enough shopping in Korea, I was looking at the Airports Shopping Guide online and they have some niiice stores!
- Louis Vuitton (the world’s first Louis Vuitton airport store)
- Tiffany & Co.
- Innisfree (One of my fave skin care brands)
Not to mention, lots of places to eat like Taco Bell, Korean Street Food, Burger Joints and Weeny Beeny for lollies and cookies.
Rest & Relaxation:
One of my favorite things for an Airport to have are free showers. And you betcha Incheon Airport has them! They also have Dry-Cleaning services and a Beauty Spa called Spa On Air where they provide full body massages, body scrubs, a sauna, showers, meeting rooms, snack bars and complimentary baggage storage.
London – Heathrow Airport
Heathrow is calculated as one of the worlds busiest Airports. I’m sure you would have guessed that as it’s always in movies and talked about through the media.
The whole Airport is 12 square kilometers with their Terminal 5 having a roof area the size of five football pitches.
And if you were thinking lots of planes landed in Singapore?
Well Heathrow has 1,400 flights take off and land every day!
I was watching a documentary about Heathrow Airport once and they were saying that a flight takes off and lands every 45 seconds. I’d hate to be working at that control tower!
As 70% of passengers are travelling for leisure, Terminal 5 tries to process 35 passengers per security lane every 15 minutes making for quicker boarding times and maybe some more Duty Free Shopping Time 😉
Rest & Relaxation
Feeling sleepy during that layover?
Well Terminal 3 has Traveler Bedrooms where you can have a sleep and a shower before you board your next flight. They’re best for long connections as the minimum stay is 3 hours.
If you’re like me and love a good massage, head to Bliss Spa at Terminal 5 in the Aspire Lounge. They have Massages, Oxygen Facials and even Hot Creme Manicures.
If you’re feeling hungry afterwards, the Aspire Lounge have an extensive British Menu serving scones with cream and jam and traditional cakes as well as you usual Salads and quiches to keep you satisfied. They also do something called ‘Wine Flights’ where you can order three 75ml tasting glasses of wine to try from around the world.
If you’re ever travelling to London and want all the luxuries mentioned about. You can!
It’s open to all travellers for a price of £29.99 per adult. It doesn’t matter which airline you’re flying with or class of travel, everyone is welcome. They do ask however that passengers adhere to their smart casual dress code meaning no football/rugby team shirts, clothing with offensive slogans, baseball caps, tour shirts or clothing with offensive messaging.
Plaza Premium Lounge:
Plaza Premium Lounges are an Asian Company who have been thriving in the luxury airport lounge industry for over 16 years.
The company spent USD 40 million as part of a global expansion plan with this being their third lounge at London Heathrow
Access to the Plaza Premium Lounge costs from £35 per person for two hours.
They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as drinks throughout the day included in the price.
For breakfast, there are hot foods, assorted pastries, cereals, fruit and salad. For lunch and dinner, there are light hot meals, tapas, sandwiches, soup, salads and desserts.
If you need to freshen up, The Plaza Premium Lounge in Terminal 4 have four showers available and a napping area.
Terminal 2 is where you an also take advantage of their five shower rooms, five en-suite relaxation rooms, a wellness Spa and a champagne bar.
As Heathrow Airport is so big, you’re spoilt for choice for places to eat and drink.
In Terminal 2 they have lots of places to grab a coffee and a muffin, not to mention the popular ‘Flying Chariot’ restaurant which is set over two floors and has its own ‘control tower’ observation deck offering stunning runway views while you sit down and eat.
Terminal 5 seems to be the place to be with regular favorites Starbucks, Wagamama and Pret-a-Manger. They also have Gordon Ramsay Plane Food where you can have Salt & Szechuan pepper baby squid for starters and a hot Chicken & cashew curry for dinner before boarding. If you want to take your food on the plane, you can with their nifty Plane Food cool bags.
Wellington Airport – New Zealand
Okay okay, I only put this on here because it’s where I’m from and I want everyone to come to New Zealand!
Wellington Airport is cute and clean!
It’s not our main international airport (Auckland is) but we’ve nearly finished a big $40 million renovation where we’ve expanded the south west pier of the domestic terminal to cope with increased passengers numbers.
Wellington Airport has actually been voted overseas as one of the ‘Top 10 most dangerous airports’ however this is only because we have rough and windy landings.
Not the Pilots fault though! We’re right next to the water and the effect of the Cook Strait creates strong and gusty winds, especially in pre frontal north westerly conditions which makes it very bumpy when coming in to land.
It’s honestly a really safe airport!
I think they’ve had maybe 2 incidents which were years and years ago. A small plane overran the southern end of the runway and ended up down an embankment on the adjacent public road and in 1991 a United Airlines plane made an emergency landing here after it’s intended destination, Auckland Airport, was closed for Fog . Apparently if they didn’t land here, their only other option was Christchurch Airport and they wouldn’t have made it with the amount of fuel they had left.
As we’re not a big International Airport (even though we’re the Capital on New Zealand) , most of our flights come from Australia, Nadi and all the other cities in NZ. We don’t have a big enough runway to take massive planes flying here from overseas. There’s been a big debate lately about extending the runway but it’ll take years so watch this space….
We’ve got Subway downstairs, Donut King upstairs and the Cook Straight Bar.
If you want a healthy meal there’s a place called ‘Fresh Bites’ where you can order salads, fresh rolls and paninis, otherwise The Bean Hive is open from 4am selling gourmet and standard sandwiches and Kiwi favorites like pies, muffins and scones.
I’ll be honest, NZ is a pretty expensive place to buy products you can easily get back in your home country (like America, Britain etc…) We’re so far away from everyone that perfume, make-up and alcohol costs quite a bit to ship here.
However if you want to buy some nice wines or spirits, Duty-Free is always open so you can stock up on alcohol when you get here.
We also now have a MAC Make-up store, Antipodes Skin Care counter, Witchery Clothing store and Trenery store in the main airport.
If you’re arriving from overseas and need to get a SIM card, Vodafone is also on the ground level next to baggage claim.
As Wellington Airport isn’t a major International Airport, there’s only one lounge for Air New Zealand Koru Members.
The Domestic Lounge has the latest newspapers and magazines to read before your flight, some light refreshments and bar facilities as well as Wi-Fi, Toilets and showers for your use.
If you’re ever in Auckland, Christchurch, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne or Nadi they also have an Air NZ Koru Lounge, (strictly members only) which have the same facilities as Wellington (excluding showers in the Nadi location)
To become a Koru member, The joining fee is around NZD$255 and then another NZD$580 on top of that for a year.
Not only do you get to use the Air NZ lounges, but also the Virgin Australia lounges in Australia and Thai Airways Business Lounge in Hong Kong (when travelling to Auckland)
Click here to check out all the benefits.
Something cool we have:
Do you love Lord Of The Rings?
Well Wellington Airport is proud to have created an exciting gateway into our city also known as Middle of Middle-earth.
There’s a 13 metre long Gollum in the main terminal which looks like he dove into Wellington Airport on Friday morning to catch fish swimming.
It had been developed by Weta Workshop and Wellington Airport to welcome visitors to the Wellington region in New Zealand.
Two Great Eagles also hang above you while you’re having something to eat. They’re placed to look like they’ve swooped into Wellington Airport’s main terminal giving Gandalf a glimpse of the runway.
Last but not least and with a total length of 4.25 metres from nose to the back of his head, lying in wait amongst a rocky facade is Smaug who watches over passengers checking-in with his piercing yellow eyes.
Munich Airport – Germany
Did you know you can take an Airport Tour here?
People say Munich Airport is like a city center with it’s 150 retail stores and 50 different places to eat and drink.
The 50 minute tours depart daily at 2.30pm and leave the public area in a modern coach, pass through security screening and then cover the 12 kilometer route past Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 aprons, passing both runways and the two fire stations.
You will see the freight buildings and maintenance hangars, the engine testing facility and the storage tanks while picking up all kinds of information on every aspect of ramp operations.
Airport tours are conducted in German. But by prior arrangement they can provide group tours in the most common foreign languages.
Munich Airport has been voted as one of the most kid-friendly airports in the world. As well as the normal Airport Coach Tour, they even have an Airport Tour specifically for kids. It’s mainly organised for schools where the groups of children are taken directly to an aircraft as it’s prepared for departure in the Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 ramp areas.
They’ll gain lots of knowledge and get the inside story of all operational procedures and see the airport functioning as a complete system.
Aside from the tours, there’s many Play Corners around the Terminals to keep the kids entertained. They have a fully revamped Kinderland which includes a big “Adventure Plane”, where children can climb and slide, a children’s cinema, and a corner for arts, crafts and games.
Eat & Drink:
Adelholzener Bar has all your Bavarian snacks such as weisswurst, pretzels and meatloaf with potato salad which you can wash down with one of their regional beers on tap.
Caviar & FineFood in Terminal 2 offers gourmet foods like caviar and foie gras and other seafood delicacies. You’ll also find a wide assortment of champagnes, sparkling wines and leading vodka brands.
Seafood Sylt meets Asia also located in Terminal 2 (seems to be where all the good places are) offers pretty much what the name says. Fish and seafood as well as Asian dishes.
Smokey Joe’s serves up the ever-popular curry sausage with its own specially blended sauces from classical or medium to smokin’ hot in the public area of the Airport.
- Aigner/Ferragamo (exclusive bags and accssoires from Salvatore Ferragamo)
- Audi Forum
- Bobbi Brown
- Desigual (new 1000-sq.ft. store offers their latest women’s clothing collection)
- Juwelier Hilscher (with watches from Rolex, IMG, Jaeger-Le Coultre and Omega)
- Marc Polo
- Victoria Secrets
Lufthansa´s Senator and Business lounges are all located in Terminal 2.
The lounges of Air France, British Airways and Emirates, as well as the three airport lounges – VipWing, Atlantic lounge and Europe lounge – are all located in Terminal 1.
The VipWing experience costs € 290 with each additional person costing € 140
This is for more for the VIP people with lots of money travelling!
If you have the money, you too can receive Exclusive VIP car access, quick Check-in and baggage handling, Separate security screening and passport control, Transfer to and from the aircraft by limousine or VIP bus and Personal care and guest liaison.
The VipWing lounge has all the usual amenities like bathrooms, private suites, food, drinks but also an Open-air Bavarian beer garden and an Exclusive view of the airport apron.