How to deal with layover purgatory? Make airports more fun. We've created the ultimate—a fantasy composite of our favorite terminal amenities from around the world. Airport developers, you are cleared for takeoff.
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(1) The lava-lamp decor and 360-degree views at LAX’s Encounter (www.encounterrestaurant.com), the restaurant/martini bar that’s become a movie-industry favorite, are worth braving the Los Angeles freeways for, even when we’re not flying.
(2) At the Paradies Shops (theparadiesshops.com), now in 62 North American airports, travelers can buy new books and return them within six months for a 50 percent refund.
(3) A smart alternative to handing over our precious multitools to airport security: the ReturnKey kiosks that are now in nine U.S. airports and let you mail items home for $6.95 plus postage.
(4) A necessary indulgence: the one-hour “flight delay” package at Vancouver International’s Absolute Spa (www.absolutespa.com), which includes a citrus-scented oxygen treatment, chair massage, and manicure for US$60.
(5) The portable DVD player rentals from InMotion Pictures (www.inmotionpictures.com) keep us entertained while we’re at the gate or in transit (rates start at $12 per day at 26 airports in the U.S. and Canada). At Singapore’s Changi Airport, free films play on a 100-inch movie screen 24 hours a day.
(6) Watery rejuvenation awaits at the Kempinski Hotel Airport Munich’s lap pool, between Terminals 1 and 2. The $18 day rate includes lockers and towels.
(7) Every airport should have a supermarket like the one at Amsterdam’s Schiphol, open 6 a.m. to midnight, with fresh produce, a deli, and a wine shop.
(8) We love the rainforest arboretum inside Kuala Lumpur International Airport and the Japanese, Chinese, and Hawaiian culture gardens at Honolulu International.
(9) Carolina Porch Rockers, made locally in North Carolina by the Portico Chair Company, line the tree-filled atrium at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
(10) A partly wooded 12-mile biking/hiking trail circles Baltimore-Washington International airport, connecting to the East Coast Greenway.
(11) At the Shipyard Brewing Company’s Brew Port in Maine’s Portland International Jetport, a Shipyard Sampler of four five-ounce tasters costs $6.19.
(12) The complimentary quiet lounges at Dubai International Airport have fully reclining chairs that give coach travelers the rare luxury of a horizontal nap.
(13) Soon you’ll be able to play nine holes at a golf course planned for Hong Kong’s 2006 SkyCity addition.
(14) Turn a layover at Reykjavík’s Keflavík International Airport into an hourlong soak in the Blue Lagoon, one of Iceland’s famed geothermal hot springs, 20 minutes from the terminal, with Reykjavík Excursions (www.re.is); $58 includes round-trip transportation.
(15) Catch a PiYo class (a fusion of Pilates and yoga) at Las Vegas McCarran’s 14,000-square-foot 24 Hour Fitness (the day-use fee is $10; luggage storage is available).
(16) Amy’s Ice Creams (www.amysicecream.com), in Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, sells nine flavors in “ice cream on the fly” packages that stay frozen for up to eight hours (a two-pint travel pack costs $25).