This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Like everything else in the world of travel, airports are in a state of constant evolution. Only a few years ago, amenities such as in-lounge spas and yoga rooms would have amazed passengers; today, they are becoming commonplace. Just as airports are competing for traffic, they’re also looking for ways to separate themselves from the competition by offering diversions that take the boredom out of travel. Here are some of the world’s most unusual airport amenities:

In This Post

Movie Theaters

While more and more people have digital devices, the iPad-and-earplug experience still pales next to the big-screen environment. You can burn up several hours of a long layover here:

  • Singapore Changi (SIN): Two 24-hour theaters show films free of charge (Terminal 2, Level 3, near the Sunflower Garden; Terminal 3, Level 3, near the Ambassador Transit Lounge)
  • Hong Kong International (HKG): The UA IMAX Theater is located in Terminal 2, Level 6, near the Food Court; hours are 11am-10pm Monday-Friday, 9:30am-10pm Saturday-Sunday
  • Seoul Incheon International (ICN): Two CGV Theaters, located at Gate 1B, are open 9am-11pm daily
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul International (MSP): The See 18 Film Screening Room (Concourse C, near Gate C18) operates 24/7 and shows short films and documentaries by filmmakers from the Upper Midwest

Swimming Pools

All facilities, except for the one in Punta Cana, are located in airport terminal hotels, and are available to transit passengers for a small fee:

  • Singapore: Situated in the Aerotel Airport Transit Hotel in Terminal 1, this rooftop pool includes a jacuzzi, poolside bar and showers
  • Hamad International, Doha (DOH): The Vitality Well-Being and Fitness Center in the transit hotel features a temperature-controlled 25-meter (82 foot) lap pool, fully equipped gym, hydrotherapy tub and two squash courts
  • Dubai International (DXB): The Health Club of the Dubai International Airport Hotel, in Terminal 3, offers a pool, gym, massage service, showers, and separate saunas and steam rooms for ladies and gentlemen
  • Punta Cana International, Dominican Republic (PUJ): In 2018, the new VIP lounge opened with an infinity pool overlooking the runways; access is limited to homeowners of the Puntacana Resort and Club; Priority, Dragon and Lounge Pass cardholders; First and Business Class passengers, and those who purchase the airport’s VIP services

Golf Course

The Nine Eagles course at HKG has closed, but this one is even better:

  • Seoul Incheon: The Sky 72 Golf Club, five minutes from the airport on a free shuttle ride, gives visitors the opportunity to play either nine or 18 holes on a putting course; if you’re pressed for time, you can practice your swing at the driving range.

Nature Trail

Airports are all about asphalt, but here’s one place that celebrates the great outdoors with carefully planned pockets of greenery:

  • The elaborate Nature Trail at SIN includes the Cactus Garden in Terminal 1 (a rooftop garden with over 100 species of cactus from Africa and the Americas), and the Sunflower and Orchid Gardens in Terminal 2

Wedding Chapels

If you get so wrapped up in planning the details of the honeymoon that you forget about the ceremony, these airports combine the romance of travel with romance, period:

  • Frankfurt International (FRA) offers an all-inclusive wedding package for 1,500 euros that encompasses a wedding planner, professional photographer, wedding cake, reception for 15 guests in one of the airport’s five-star hotels, and one night’s stay in a suite
  • St. Louis Lambert International (STL) has 26,000 square feet of event space with panoramic views of the runways, and can cater receptions of virtually any size
  • Stockholm Arlanda (ARN) provides an elaborate collection of VIP wedding services that includes catering, Champagne, photographers, private lounges and priests from the Church of Sweden; if you’d like, you can even get married in the control tower!
  • At Manchester International (MAN), you may hold your ceremony under the wings of a British Airways Concorde and enjoy a three-course meal on board

Ice Skating Rink

Lace up your skates, cut some figure eights, and unwind from your flight:

  • ICN: The Ice Forest Skating Rink is located at B1, and will rent you skates, gloves and a helmet (open daily from 10am-8pm)

Aquarium

One of the best collections of sea creatures is in a place where you’d least expect to find it:

  • Vancouver International (YVR): This engineering marvel begins with a man-made stream running through the International Terminal and culminates in a 30,000-gallon aquarium filled with British Columbia sea life; highlights include 20 species of fish and a nearly 500-gallon jellyfish tank

Car Wash

  • There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but Spokane International (GEG) offers a free car wash to anyone parking in the two garages or the outside parking lot; the automated wash covers the outside of the vehicle only, but given the price it’s hard to complain

Beer Garden

If you only have a few hours in transit, but want an authentic German experience:

  • Airbrau at Munich International (MUC) is a traditional Bavarian beer garden with seating for 600, a mix of salads and hearty German specialties such as sausages and pig’s knuckles, and eight beers crafted by master brewer Rene Jacobsen; Airbrau serves breakfast, lunch and dinner; and tours of the brewery are available for a modest fee

Distilleries

Given the current popularity of craft cocktails, it was inevitable that distillers would set up shop in airports:

  • The House Spirits Distillery makes rum, vodka, aquavit and an American single malt whiskey; the tasting room at Portland International (PDX) is open daily from noon-6pm
  • London’s Gatwick International (LGW) is home to The Nicholas Culpeper, named for the 17th century physician and herbalist; while the pub and restaurant are open 24 hours, the landside location means that you can’t carry any of their small-batch gin through security with you

Prunier Caviar Bar

You don’t have to forgo the good life simply because you’re flying:

  • The legendary Parisian restaurant operates a Caviar and Seafood bar at HKG, London’s Heathrow International (LHR) as well as LGW, John F. Kennedy International in New York (JFK), Copenhagen International (CPH), DXB, and both Charles de Gaulle (CDG) and Orly International (ORY) in Paris; dine on specialties such as Balik smoked salmon, king crab, lobster and fish eggs accompanied by glasses of Champagne

Bottom Line

As the travel experience becomes more diverse, airport amenities have expanded to include movie theaters, swimming pools, wedding chapels and golf, as well as dining options such as distilleries, beer gardens and caviar bars.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$550
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.