MUNICH INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, GERMANY
What is a trip through Germany without a chance to sample its beer? Munich Airport houses the world’s first on-site airport brewery, Airbrau, a huge indoor beer garden which opened in 1999 and runs from May to October annually.
The brewery not only has a wide selection of traditional brews, but also offers local food and tours with a brewmaster who will show visitors around and explain the brewing process.
For those who need 40 winks, the airport also offers napcabs in Terminal 2. For €15 ($23) an hour, passengers get a comfortable bed where they can sleep or just relax with music until departure time.
The pods are also set up for work, with an iPhone or MP3 connection and a USB port.
In Terminal 2, there is a play area for children. The highlight of the area is a 6m-long model plane, developed by early childhood education specialists. Its design encourages kids to climb, explore and let off steam before their next flight.
HONG KONG INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Given its proximity to China and its booming population, it is no surprise that Hong Kong has one of the busiest international airports in the world – and for good reason.
Its terminals are jammed with more than 300 stores – everything from shopping to dim sum restaurants – and there is a wide range of amenities available for passengers on a layover, including landscaped gardens, an aviation discovery centre (pictured), sleep rooms and showers.
Travellers with family can also choose to visit the airport’s Imax movie theatre – the country’s largest – or play some simulation golf at GreenLive Air, which offers nine- and 18-hole games.
VANCOUVER INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA
Set against a picturesque backdrop of rocky mountains, this airport is perfect for nature buffs – particularly because of the 114,000-litre aquarium in the departure lounge, which is home to more than 850 indigenous sea creatures.
The airport also has its own wildlife team, with 16 trained wildlife biologists working with the airport to discourage hazardous shorebirds, ducks, geese and herons from remaining on the airfield.
A plus point for those travelling through with a long layover, the McArthurglen Vancouver designer outlet centre (pictured) is just three minutes and two skytrain stops from the airport.
With more than 60 designer brands such as Hugo Boss, Armani and Michael Kors to choose from at the outlet mall, it is a great way to blow off some steam – and some cash.
SEOUL INCHEON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, SOUTH KOREA
South Korea’s airport features an Instagram-friendly ice-skating rink to take a spin in if you have a few hours to spare in Seoul.
Those interested in South Korean culture can also head to its cultural centre and watch a short play or learn to make traditional artefacts such as pencil cases, fans, and “lucky bags” from the faculty of the Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation.
If one has a longer layover, there is the option of the free city tour to explore sights in the city.
But perhaps what make Seoul’s airport a layover darling are its many free facilities, including showers, a rest zone for naps, Wi-Fi and massage chairs for the weary traveller.
HEATHROW AIRPORT, LONDON, BRITAIN
If you do not have time to make it to London’s famed Oxford Street, fret not because a layover at Heathrow might just be the next best thing.
Its new Terminal 5 has a wide selection of shopping options and houses the 11,000 sq ft luxury department store Harrods as well as an official 600 sq ft Harry Potter store (pictured) – perfect for keeping the kids busy.
In 2014, the airport also launched the world’s first airport personal shopping lounge.
It offers passengers a chance to enjoy tailored appointments with an accredited stylist in a private consultation suite – free of charge.
Besides shopping, there is a host of dining options – from Michelin starred restaurants to champagne and caviar bars. And for those who would rather pamper themselves, there is the option of a blow-dry at the Bumble and Bumble salon in Terminal 3 or a massage at the luxe Elemis spa in Terminal 5.
HAMAD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, DOHA, QATAR
Doha’s new airport, which opened in 2014, is a major hub for travellers, which means one can anticipate people and flights at all times of the day – and night.
In true glitzy Middle Eastern fashion, the airport, with its five concourses, is enormous and feels very much like a mall, with numerous high-end and mid-tier shopping options for transit passengers.
But one of the real selling points is the airport’s many ongoing art exhibitions.
Featuring everything from largescale murals to elaborate sculptures by renowned artists such as Tom Otterness and Urs Fischer, scouting out the pieces – which could make for some interesting photographs – could be a good way to while away the time.
ZURICH AIRPORT, SWITZERLAND
Zurich Airport is a mere 10-minute train ride from the city centre, with trains leaving about every 10 minutes – making it a dream for travellers with a longer layover.
Given its location and trains which run with Swiss efficiency, travellers can venture into the city without fear of missing their connecting flights.
The airport is one of the most family-friendly in the world, with family services (pictured) offered in departure areas A and E.
The facilities include baby care products and a kitchenette with utensils, as well as playrooms with a variety of toys and books, a craft workshop and PlayStations – making a long layover less of an ordeal for families with young kids.
This story was originally published in The Straits Times.