For frequent travellers – whether you are travelling for business, on holiday, as an expat or as a global nomad – finding a good transfer airport is manna in the desert. You can wander in a wilderness of no Wi-Fi, terrible seating (or no seating), bad food choices and no ability to freshen up for your onward journey. Sometimes your stopover will be short and you won’t need to worry too much; but if you’ve ever heard of someone having an accidental 24-hour stopover at Doha (like I have), you know that there is a lot to be gained from a well-planned airport with good facilities.
Regularly regarded as the best airport in the world, Singapore really is an amazingly planned place. It has indoor and outdoor gardens, free film screenings, free gaming, beautiful gardens, free computer terminals, a gym and even a rooftop pool. Extra touches like free massage chairs and a free Singapore bus tour make Changi a really exciting stopover destination.
Narita is a fairly modest airport, but there is plenty of space to stretch out, and has some really excellent eating and rest facilities if you are there for a long stopover. You can hire a little booth to have a shower, which comes with a cute little wash-pack. Private rooms to have an undisturbed nap are also available. They’ve also recently begun free Japanese culture classes – check ahead to see if you’re around during the scheduled sessions.
This mega airport can be a bit daunting – especially if your stopover is short: it can literally take at least good half hour to walk from one gate to another, so don’t dilly dally if your flight is leaving soon – Terminal Express golf-carts are available to carry you between locations if required. Wi-Fi is available for 30 minutes free, and there are a number of phone and laptop charging outlets. It’s built to take a large capacity of travellers, and can get quite busy, but there are excellent stretcher beds available in the capacious corridors. Just don’t forget to set your alarm.
Not one you’d immediately think of, Iceland’s major airport isn’t a huge hub of travel, but Iceland Air has recently introduced the ability to stop over for up to a week for no extra cost –allowing a multi-destination holiday. If you haven’t got time to stay longer, the perfect stopover activity is a visit to the famous Blue Lagoon – there are buses direct, with facilities to store your bags. Perfect to recharge.
With world-class shopping, free Wi-Fi throughout the terminals, comfy seating and a good (if pricey) range of eateries, Sydney airport is a reliably excellent place to spend a few hours. You need never again want for UGG boots, kangaroo-themed merchandise or woollen goods.
Vivienne Egan writes for Now Health International, who provide international health insurance for expats and travellers.