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The world's most unusual airport amenities

July 10, 2021
10 min read
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.


Just a few years ago, amenities such as in-lounge spas and yoga rooms would have amazed airport 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.

And now that travel is back with a vengeance, you may find yourself spending more time in airports. Whether you're looking to kill time during a layover or delay, or you're just looking for fun amusements and distractions for the entire family, these are some of the world's most unusual airport amenities.

Health care

(Photo by Cecilie_Arcurs/Getty Images)

There's nothing worse than getting sick or injured while traveling. But these airports have you covered.

  • Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP): When you need an adjustment before or after your flight, go to Terminal 1, Concourse C near Gate C12. Chiroport offers chiropractic services including trigger point massage, stretching and adjustments.
  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO): The SFO Medical Clinic, located at the International Terminal Main Hall, pre-security, provides travel medicine, urgent care, immigration physicals and occupational health services, along with COVD-19 testing and vaccines.
  • Vancouver International Airport (YVR): The Vancouver Airport Clinic offers primary, family and specialized care for passengers and the airport community. Services include travel medicine, physiotherapy, podiatry, acute injury management and specialized aviation and corporate health services. You can also get PCR and rapid antigen COVID-19 testing. A full-service pharmacy is located next door.

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:

Movie theater in PDX (Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

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 Changi: Situated in the Aerotel Airport Transit Hotel in Terminal 1, this rooftop pool includes a Jacuzzi, poolside bar and showers. It costs $17 to use.
  • Hamad International in Doha (DOH): For a $50 fee, the Vitality Well-Being and Fitness Center in the transit hotel features a temperature-controlled 25-meter (82 foot) lap pool, a 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 services, showers and separate saunas and steam rooms for both women and men.
  • Punta Cana International in the Dominican Republic (PUJ): The VIP lounge has an infinity pool overlooking the runways, though 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. Priority Pass membership comes with cards such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve and others.
Punta Cana pool at the Priority Pass lounge. (Photo by Scott Mayerowitz / The Points Guy)

Slides

  • Singapore's airport has multiple really cool slides to help you pass the time. There's Singapore's tallest slide, located in Terminal 3, that allows for a free ride with a receipt for every $8 (approximately) spent at the airport. However, the slide closed on May 10, 2021, and will remain closed until further notice.

Golf Course

Sadly, the Nine Eagles course at HKG has closed, but there are others:

  • Seoul Incheon: The Sky 72 Golf Club, located 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.
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport: The PGA MSP Lounge isn't a full golf course, but you can practice your swing or putting much closer to home -- and potentially for free — if you have a Priority Pass membership, as that gives you a credit to use as you wish inside the lounge (this benefit isn't available for those who have The Platinum Card® from American Express). (enrollment required)

Related: Amex Cuts Priority Pass Restaurant Access — Here’s What You Can Do

(Image courtesy of PGA MSP Airport)

Nature Trail

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

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  • The elaborate Nature Trail at Singapore Changi 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. There's also the spectacular Canopy Park.
Yes, this is inside an airport. (Photo by Ethan Steinberg / The Points Guy)

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): Book an all-inclusive wedding package for 1,500 euros and get access to a wedding planner, professional photographer, wedding cake, reception for 15 guests in one of the airport's five-star hotels and a one-night stay in a suite.
  • St. Louis Lambert International (STL): With 26,000 square feet of event space featuring panoramic views of the runways, you can host a reception of virtually any size.
  • Stockholm Arlanda (ARN): There's an elaborate collection of VIP wedding services at Stockholm Arlanda that includes catering, Champagne, photographers, private lounges and priests from the Church of Sweden. You can even get married in the control tower here.
  • Manchester International (MAN): Hold your ceremony under the wings of a British Airways Concorde and enjoy a three-course meal on board.
  • Ronald Reagan National Airport: The airport's Historic Lobby in Terminal A is an ideal spot for a wedding, with one-of-a-kind views of the airfield and Washington D.C.
Image courtesy of Runway Visitor Park/Facebook

Ice Skating Rink

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

  • Munich Airport (MUC): In addition to two seasonal ice skating rinks, travelers passing through Munich Airport can peruse an entire Christmas Market.
  • Denver International Airport (DEN): Book a flight out of here during the holiday season for access to a free ice skating rink.
Denver ice skating rink (Summer Hull / The Points Guy)

Aquarium

There's a collection of sea creatures in a place where you'd least expect to find it:

  • Vancouver International (YVR): This engineering marvel begins with a manmade 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

  • Spokane International (GEG): There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but Spokane International 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.

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 Hong Kong International, London Heathrow (LHR) and Gatwick (LGW), New York-JFK, Copenhagen International (CPH), Dubai International 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.
(Photo courtesy of Dubai Airports)

Beer Garden

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

  • Munich International: Airbräu 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 René Jacobsen. Airbräu also serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and tours of the microbrewery 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:

  • Portland International (PDX): If you have a Priority Pass membership (see the theme) you can enjoy a $28 credit to visit a whiskey tasting room and learn about the entire grain-to-glass process at the Westward Experience near Gate C6.
  • London's Gatwick: Home to The Nicholas Culpeper, which was named for the 17th-century physician and herbalist. While the pub and restaurant are open 24 hours, the landside location means you can't carry any of their small-batch gin through security. It is temporarily closed due to the pandemic.

Additional reporting by Benét J. Wilson

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

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  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
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Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023