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What’s Your Favorite Airport Amenity?

posted by Jason Kottke Feb 02, 2024

The NY Times asked a bunch of their readers what their favorite airport amenities were. Their answers included libraries, pools, and vending machines for things like cupcakes and canned cheese.

I love an airport with an outdoor area and areas for napping and free showers (like at Incheon). But my favorite airport thing by far is the bonkers indoor waterfall and garden/forest at Singapore’s Jewel Changi Airport:

The waterfall at Singapore's Changi airport

What about you? What are your favorite airport shops, facilities, and conveniences when you travel? (Let’s not do “faster security” and such — that’s a given.)

Discussion  33 comments

Taco

When I was a fresh parent, we really appreciated the babycare lounge at Amsterdam Schiphol. It's a super calming space where you can bathe and sleep your mini me. It has large couch/bed things with curtains around them creating privacy.

Mud

Schiphol is such a great airport.

I’d add all the clean family-friendly washrooms to the list as well.

Rion Nakaya

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Aileen Gallagher

I like the little nook of comfy chairs, quiet, and free/good wifi from the Philadelphia Free Library at PHL.

Anders Ahlberg

A tasty restaurant with a good beer list. Food is the gateway to my heart, and finding good food on the road makes travel so much better.

Near gate D5 in ATL there is an excellent fried chicken restaurant which has a real 20+ beer list. It's also owned by Ludacris. The airport billboards for it say "to eat anywhere else would be... Ludacris." Agreed.

Jonathan Dobres

I appreciate any airport terminal with a good number of restaurants inside security. You know, once I'm certain that I've arrived way too early for my flight and can take my time with a meal. Reading this post, I'm realizing that I should find some reasons to travel internationally.

Jenni Leder

When I had to travel alot for work, I'd take advantage of the pampering type of things. Massages, manicures, etc. Now I'm all about comfy spots and decent food.

I have always loved the art exhibits at SFO.
TIL it's an official museum

I also just learned about this nail painting machine, that looks 3D printer-ish, which I would totally try. Website - Video

Mathew Ingram

Munich airport has nap pods :-)

Michael Sippey

+1 to the art at SFO. Also, I love their very prominent water bottle refilling stations, and their egg chairs. I've yet to experience a silent airport, but egg chairs plus water bottle refilling stations plus *silence* would be the best.

Moira Dawson

Another +1 to the SFO art. Also, while it's not technically a silent airport, SFO is a LOT quieter than other airports because they don't pipe in loud pop music. LOOKING AT YOU, LAX.

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Moira Dawson

I had to divorce Delta due to their recent membership changes but the number one thing I'll miss are the felted phone booths at their LAX SkyClub. They are truly soundproof and I've taken countless confidential work calls there but pre-flight and after landing there. I need the airport to basically help be an extension of my office and unfortunately that means quiet, ideally soundproof, spots for me to take calls. (I continue to be amazed at people who loudly discuss work in open areas - like, I'm pretty sure the data you're shouting in the T terminal are confidential...?)

I really wish more lounges had pods like that but I've really only seen that at that particular SkyClub.

P

Overhearing information in pubic reminds me of this story: https://mastodon.social/@[email protected]/111855503311750277

Moira Dawson

WOWWW

Aileen Gallagher

The Syracuse airport has something called an "Escape Pod" this is similar. It's just in a hallway and charges $10 for the first 15 minutes. I wonder if anyone uses it.

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Kim D.

I enjoy art that is sometimes (maybe often) found in airports - looking at you Seattle. John Grade's Boundary in the North Terminal is incredible. I've tried digging around because I'm certain I've seen Chihuly in an airport. I experienced BNA (Nashville) Terminal A many many times over the past 20 years and they have an exhibit corridor you have to pass through and generally it's worthwhile.

Lisa S.

I like the aquarium and the Indigenous art at Vancouver. Overall, YVR is a pretty good airport, probably the best of the Canadian airports in my experience -- they've made a real effort to bring in local food, the art is good, the fish are relaxing, etc. Otherwise, I'd have to say my favourite airport is Munich, because it's efficient and decently laid out (or at least, I know it very well); if I could fly direct into Munich every time I would, but unfortunately these days I'm usually stuck with the morass that is FRA. Efficiency isn't an amenity like a lounge or what have you, but it's the thing I most appreciate in airports.

Also, although these days are past for me now, I still appreciate seeing a good playground in an airport.

Oh -- and hotels at the airport or next to the airport that have day rates so you can sleep through the 7-hour layover on very long, 3+ continent flights. (That IS a +1 for FRA, but that's about it.)

Ryan Nee

I love the miniature version of the Rijksmuseum at the Amsterdam Schiphol airport. A lot of airports have art exhibits (some better than others), but having a miniature outpost of one of the world's greatest museums is a treat.

David Gallagher

Ryan beat me to it! Always a bit of brain fodder or pure visual pleasure here.

Nick Sweeney

I don't think I've seen it in its current form, but even the older version was lovely. I'm also fond of the mini-library nearby: even if you don't pick something out from the (multilingual) selection of Dutch authors, it's a funky little space that's really suited for reading because for some reason it feels quieter than the rest of the 'Holland Boulevard'.

(CDG has a Louvre outpost but I haven't been there to see it.)

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Nick Vance

Portland airport has a policy that requires all vendors to charge the same price as they do at any location outside the airport. This means so you can eat/shop without getting price-gouged. They despite (or maybe because of this?) they have a pretty good selection of local shops and eateries.

Jenni Leder

Agreed, the coffee and food selection here is top notch.

Pratik M

Austin has something similar. Well, not the same price thing but all vendors are local businesses and not chains (apart from one Annie's)

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Andrew Cafourek

As I type this, I’m sitting in a small park inside the Honolulu (HNL) airport and it is an amazingly refreshing reprieve on a very long travel day. I have a 4 hour layover here before a 10 hour flight and just laying here on grass feels so revitalizing.

I would love to see more outdoor spaces available inside security (even if they don’t have palm trees!)

Nathan Clark

1. I love walking the actual tarmac overseas. Something more magical about walking up to the plan from ground level. I don't know why most of the US avoids it, though perhaps there's a good reason. But through rain, snow, cold, and heat I've always preferred boarding the plane via steps from the tarmac.
2. Denver has (had?) an outdoor seating area. Great views, fire pits, just hanging at the end of the concourse. I never realized how much I was trapped inside at an airport until I got to wait *outside*.
3. Oslo's airport had art from the Munch Museum. There's some in the Alesund airport too. Having actual paintings from Norway's most famous artist just hanging in the airport was crazy.

Michael Sippey

Also love walking the actual tarmac -- Burbank airport is the jam for this in CA.

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Emily Norton

Milwaukee has a nice used bookstore inside their airport.

Paolo Palombo

I love the idea of open spaces and small parks within the airport, but I have never seen one so far (other than the occasional terrace in a lounge).
Of the things I have seen, art displays. My favorite is the “Zimbabwe: A Tradition in Stone” exhibit of stone statues in the Atlanta airport, in the transportation mall between terminals T and A.
Actually, the entire transportation mall in ATL has interesting art. I often walk to the gate instead of taking the train just for that reason.

Richard Heppner Jr.

I love the pseudo rainforest section.

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schmod

Good public transportation that can reliably get me to the airport without needing to budget time or money around traffic, taxis, and parking.

The same public transit is also great when it can get me away from the airport at the other end of my journey, as quickly as humanly possible.

(Many other amenities listed here feel like ostentatious displays of wealth, or perks reserved for an elite few, which somehow never seems to include me. Personally, I just want airlines and airports that are designed to minimize the amount of time I need to spend experiencing air travel)

Pamela Carson

And we want to be able to cycle to and from the airport! Then fold up our Bromptons and check them in. We have cycled to many airports in Europe and Canada, and Tampa is a great example. However, Taiwan was a big fail— had to have a police car escort off the airport property.

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Todd Lemoine

It's such a small thing, but I love that the Narita airport in Japan doesn't charge for their luggage carts.

Also, I would never think of it as an amenity, but I do appreciate when an airport's signage is thoughtful and done well.

Tim Hare

My favorite airport "things" are art. One that really struck me was the kinetic sculpture by George Rhoads in the Philadelphia airport

CW Moss

One thing I always like seeing are 'religious worship' rooms. I feel like rarely do all congregate together, and in theory that happens in those rooms and I think that's a beautiful idea.

Also, in those rooms, typically, there is a small placard on the ceiling that points the direction of Mecca — and although that info isn't technically of use to me, it's still fun to know.

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