How to cheat airport layovers and get the best from them

How to cheat airport layovers and get the best from them

Winnie Karnik, May 15, 2015
Another day, another flight.

Do you dread a layover? Does the thought of waiting at the airport for hours together bother you? Don’t be harrowed by layovers anymore. Airports all over the world are creating a cult of mini-vacations for passengers who are in transit. We would urge you to go and explore the city, but we won’t even blame you if you get drawn towards the various facilities that the airports have to offer. Here are a few airports that will change your opinion on layovers forever.

1. Changi Airport, Singapore

Changi Airport, Singapore

If you can stop yourself prying away from the marvels at Changi Airport (and believe me, you would find it difficult), you may opt for a free tour of Singapore while in transit. If your layover time exceeds five hours, then you will be lucky enough to avail this tour and take a glimpse of sensational Singapore. In this tour, you will be exposed to the best landmarks of Singapore like Singapore Flyer, Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay Sands, Esplanade, The Merlion Park, Colonial District, Chinatown, Little India and the Central Business District. In the evening, you may also opt for the City Light tour of Singapore where you will witness Singapore by night. This free Singapore tour is organised in collaboration with Changi Airport Group, Singapore Airlines and Singapore Tourism Board.

2. Dubai International Airport

Dubai International Airport

Experience Dubai on a layover tour that juxtaposes ancient Arabian culture with the bustling modern metropolis flaunting larger than life landmarks. If you are stuck at the airport waiting for your next flight, you might as well take in the sights offered by the city. Emirates airlines offers Dubai stopover packages to passengers who have booked their flight tickets with them. Our sources have also revealed a secret to us. If you are flying Business class with Emirates, then you will be assigned a personal chauffeur who will drive you anywhere within the predefined premises of the city from the airport.

3. Schiphol Amsterdam Airport

Schiphol Amsterdam Airport

The airport in itself is an entertainment zone with facilities resembling a developed complex. While you are an outbound person and have a long layover, we recommend that you shrug off the bowlines and venture out to explore Amsterdam. Your layover Amsterdam tour will take you through the Anne Frank House, Red Light District, canals, museums, coffee shops and shopping hubs. If your layover is more than 5 hours, then you’ll be able to visit Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum (wow!). You could even rent out a bicycle and soak in the Dutch aura. The Red Light District in Amsterdam attracts tourists from across the world, every year. It might ring a bell if you’ve seen the Bollywood blockbuster movie, Queen.

4. London Heathrow Airport

London Heathrow Airport

While the airport in itself is an engaging affair that will be hard to resist, we implore you to go and explore the British vistas. Go old school and catch the London Express that will transport to this British land in about 15 minutes. You’d love to take the hop-on-hop-off tour of the city that will give you a running commentary of landmarks as you ride the bus. If you have a longer layover at the London Heathrow Airport, then you’ll be blessed to see some of the most iconic landmarks like Buckingham Palace, Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and Churchill War Rooms exposing the underground war bunkers used by Winston Churchill during the WWII.

5. Doha International Airport

Doha International Airport

If you are flying with Qatar Airways, then a stopover at Doha will gift you a complimentary tour of the city. This initiative has been taken by the Qatar Tourism Board in alliance with Qatar Airways. On this trail of Doha, you will traverse the Pearl-Qatar for the finest shops and restaurants, Katara Cultural Village to witness its intricate art and heritage, Souq Waqif for the dazzling jewellery, spice and handicraft markets and finally, the Museum of Islamic Art for none other than history.

5 life-saving tips to get the best from airport layovers

  1. While booking the flight, ensure that your ticket permits you to leave the transit area, otherwise you may not be able to leave the airport.

  2. Clear all the immigration and customs after you alight at the airport and check with the airport authorities for your reporting time for the next flight.

  3. You may want to check your bags directly for the final destination. Just carry a small backpack with you to keep the essentials. If not, you may utilise the lockers or the left luggage facility offered by most airports to securely keep your luggage.

  4. The information desks at the airport have free maps, information guides and instruction manuals on getting around the city including routes for buses, taxis, subway trains and cars. You could plan your own way around the city.

  5. Carry your identification documents like passport, visa and other essentials with you all the time while you set out for a city venture. These documents will come in handy in case you are stuck around or need help.