Departure halls are a feast for all the senses. Microcosms of the outside world, they provide the perfect launching pads for international travel. With dozens of shops and restaurants, and the latest high-tech innovations, they can be fun places to explore ahead of your flight.
Here are some great things to see and do while you’re waiting for your A380 to take to the skies.
Eat Your Heart Out
With a plethora of menu options from around the world, airport departures areas have menus for every taste and budget! Large airports like Charles de Gaulle, Singapore and Dubai have dozens of bars, restaurants and cafes – from Michelin-style restaurants for a special treat to family eateries and takeaway options for grabbing on the run.
Whether it’s a quick bite en route to the departure gate, or a long and leisurely lunch to while away the hours while you’re waiting for your connection, you’ll find something to tickle your taste buds at A380 airports.
When else do you have dozens of shops at your fingertips and time on your hands to explore them? Whether you have one hour or six before your flight, A380 airports offer unrivaled shopping experiences.
From famous fashion houses to electronics shops and souvenir outlets, there’s something for everyone inside A380 terminals.
Airports like Charles de Gaulle in Paris even have a ‘shop and collect’ service to help you take advantage of duty-free prices. This works well if you’re flying in and out of the same airport. You simply go shopping while you’re waiting for your outbound flight and then collect your purchases when you return.
At Heathrow there’s also a free personal shopping service to help you find what you need between flights.Don’t forget that airports can be great places to pick up discounted electronic items such as laptops, tablets, and phones.
Airport websites list retailers, so it’s easy to check which outlets are at your airport, and to email ahead to see if the item you want will be in stock during your visit.
If you have a few hours to go before your flight, why not take some time to freshen up?
Many airport hotels offer great value ‘pay-as-you-go’ rooms that are available at hourly rates. You can use them to get away from the hustle and bustle of the airport terminal, to have a shower, or to catch up on some sleep in privacy. Many airports also offer showers that you can use en route to your final destination.
Or, for a few dollars more, you could really treat yourself! Singapore’s Changi Airport has a transit hotel in all three terminals. Don’t forget to pack your swimming trunks if you’re passing through Terminal 1 – your room key will also get you access to a pool (complete with pool-side bar!), a jacuzzi and a fitness room.
This can be a great way to make sure your holiday starts before you even arrive at your final destination.
In London, airports like Heathrow offer day rooms in Terminal 3, as well as shower facilities in case you don’t need a complete hotel experience. To be pampered, check out the spa facilities also on offer.
At Dubai International Airport you can take a break in a unique igloo-shaped Scandinavian pod or in your very own ‘snooze cube’ mini-hotel room – both are available at hourly rates.
Chill Out in an Airport Lounge
Terminals can be crowded places, but it’s usually always possible to find a quiet corner in a departure hall to relax. If you only have a short time between flights, heading straight to your departure gate and relaxing in an area nearby can help ensure a stress-free transit.
For longer layovers, some airlines have lounges that are open to Economy Class passengers. For example, the Marhaba Lounges in Dubai (in T1 Concourse C, T2 and T3 Concourse A, B and C) are open 24/7 to all travelers, no matter your class of travel.
Some airports have computer areas available for passengers travelling without devices, in addition to the usual Wi-Fi access (free of charge or small fee).
The fee-based stations vary, but usually charge phones from wireless, USB or electric connections (don’t forget to pack an international adaptor just in case). Business facilities may also be available to you even if you’re flying economy, allowing you to check in at work while you’re on the move.
Go Zen or Catch an Art Exhibition
The Zen Gardens in Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport are the perfect places to escape for some peace and quiet. They have seating areas, plus ponds and water features to help take the stress out.
Los Angeles International Airport, meanwhile, has an ongoing arts program that’s run in partnership with artists and community organisations. The program coordinates displays of paintings, installations and performance art throughout the airport, providing passengers with the opportunity to enjoy free, world-class exhibitions while in transit.
So, no matter where you’re flying on an A380, you’ll always have things to see and do while you’re in transit. Enjoy!