Whenever I visit the airport, I witness family dropping off their child or a friend bidding goodbye to another or joyful reunions. It evokes various emotions within – sadness, happiness, excitement, and thrill. There is something about airports that excites me – my family and I carrying luggage in hand and walking around the vast airport.
I can sense the wheels carry my baggage smoothly gliding across the linoleum floor as I pull it along. There are some quite humming voices and a lady making announcements in a monotone voice to the passengers concerning the status of the flights. Then there are those who frantically run around, gathering their belongings, to the check-in counter and security point.
Apart from witnessing so many emotions, one thing that still makes me love airports is the excitement of travelling somewhere unknown. Away from my mundane life back home, it is going to a new place that races my heart. Airports are also an escape route. A change of environment. It was always about change of setting and discovering something I had not before.
I have been to a few domestic and international destinations, and the following airports is what I would recommend for a short or long layovers. P.S. The layovers in these airports are nothing less than an experience, I assure you –
Chennai Airport (MAA): When I visited Chennai around 10-12 years ago, the airport was not worth staying even for a second. The smell and clustered designs suffocated me. Four years back when I arrived at the airport, it took me by surprise. The domestic and international airports are adjacent and provide breathtaking connectivity. It is the fourth busiest Indian airport regarding international passengers. The future looks promising as the airport plans to connect the metro subway to passenger terminals by a connecting tube.
Changi Airport, Singapore: If you have a layover of a good seven to 10 hours, Changi Airport will entertain you with their leisure amenities. There is need to step out from the comfort zone, literally. Changi was awarded World’s best airport in 2019, which is a sort of record as it bagged the title for the seventh consecutive time. Apart from the splendid garden display which I got to witness back in 2015, there is a theater, vivid dining options, numerous shopping attractions, and new one added to the list is the Jewel Changi Airport. It is a nature themed entertainment that connects three passenger terminals. The center piece is the largest indoor waterfall called Rain Vortex.
CSIA, Mumbai: Although many complain of the long arrival walk after landing, the T2 airport is the best place for layover. From varied brands for shopping to mouth-watering deals on duty free to fine-dining to lounge experiences to cafes, everything is available at the drop of your hat in Mumbai International airport. Not to forget, the domestic airport as well have upped their amenities. The moment you step out from the domestic airport, you have eateries and pick up and drop services lined-up. For long layovers, you could chill in any of the eateries for hours and enjoy a movie in one of the cafes.
Zurich Airport: One of the airports that tops my list after Singapore is Zurich. The arrival was such at ease thanks to the tube connectivity. Apart from the duty free, the business class area is peaceful and you could enjoy the lounge experience for long layovers. In fact, they operate nine lounges and no jokes, all offer champagne and whiskey. In summers, which I personally got to experience, was the outdoor observation deck where you could see the runways. At offset, the flyover connects you directly to the departure section. No wonder, it always stays ahead in the list of world’s best airports repeatedly.
Abu Dhabi Airport: Honestly, it reminded me of home. Apart from finding my own peeps around, the airport is homely indeed. A cosy space is ideal for a short layover. The outside view I promise is worth it when the sunrises. Abu Dhabi welcomed me in style.
Dubai Airport: One of the world’s busiest airport is Dubai. Divided into three terminals, each one has a duty free shop, and other such leisure amenities. The duty free brands are available at jaw-dropping prices. Precisely why, people spend hours into shopping. If you have a long layover, look no where and head straight to the duty free shops. You even get gold for attractive rates. And yes, do not get surprised if you find yourself lost amidst the crowd.
Charles de Gaulle, Paris: Although when I landed I found the airport pretty clustered and crowded, but I realised I am at Paris after all. The footfall is going to be large. In summers, you will see the sun shining bright even at 10 in the night. This image was taken then. It is perfect if you have few hours layover. I would not really recommend you to spend hours in the airport. Rather, you could head out at the streets and soak in the French architecture.
KL International Airport: If there is one place you can shop till you drop is KL Airport. One of the first international airports I have been to. Awesome transit through shuttle service from one terminal to the other, an entire floor of dining experience, and hands on passenger guide for baggage claims, security, etc. In case of long layovers and you have a small child, they have special kids play room at level five main terminal building.
Airports can be fun and filled with life. The next time you visit one, make sure to consume it all. There is so much you can learn by just sitting idle, en the way to your next place.