If you listed places you consider to be “fun” nowadays, an airport probably wouldn’t make the list.
OK, OK, aviation geeks might disagree with me. But for most of us, being stuck at an airport for 3 extra hours because your flight crew just timed out, or your flight’s canceled because there’s a pilot’s strike, all before being squashed together in a tin can for a few hours, is, for most of us, stressful.
A few airports have broken the mold and made themselves destinations unto themselves. Singapore’s Jewel Changi Airport, with its gardens, attractions, a hotel, about 300 retail and dining outlets, as well as early baggage check-in aviation facilities, is a perfect example of that.
Some airports work smaller scale – as of August 2021, 37 U.S. airports were offering pet therapy programs. Even more than that are available internationally.
The thing is, Changi’s far and although meeting up with a therapy dog is cool, you have to be at the right place at the right time (and, frankly, have to like dogs). So other airports have made little changes, usually on the more whimsical side, to de-stress being at an airport. Here are some of them:
- Aalborg Airport in Denmark has a “Kiss and goodbye” sign in their parking zone.
- The carpet at Portland Airport was so popular that they have a store where they sell stuff with the pattern!
- Many airports have had chapels installed – here’s the history of that. Generally speaking, the traditional religions practiced in Taiwan are a combination of Buddhism, Taoism, and folk religions. However Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport has prayer rooms set aide for not just Buddhists, but also Muslims and Christians. Here’s what each of them look like.
- New Zealand’s Wellington Airport installed a huge Gollum sculpture when Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King was released in 2003.
- Of course, the lifelike “The Traveler” statue, near the food court of Orlando International Airport has been amusing travelers since 1986.
- Speaking of statues (and Florida!), Tampa International Airport just installed a 21-foot tall flamingo statue in its main terminal. It looks COOL!
As of this writing, the “water”above the flamingo still needs to be installed. Here’s what it’ll look like when it’s done.
- Edmonton Airport, in Canada, has had a short story dispenser for years
- Even the TSA gets involved! The TSA at Cleveland Airport has “artwork” of the items they’ve confiscated:
- Norway’s Bergen Flesland Airport makes finding the restroom easy. It’s to the point.
- Helsinki Airport made headlines around the world when it posted this sign in 2016 for the Slush event (a technology and startup convention)in 2016. It was so popular that it stayed up months longer than planned.
— Helsinki Business (@helsinkibiz) December 7, 2016
Several airports have installed phone charging stations that require you to pedal to make your own power:
- Amsterdam Schiphol Airport
- Brisbane Airport, Australia
- Also Indianapolis, Istanbul, Charles de Gaulle, and others!
- When Pensacon, Pensacola, Florida’s massive annual pop culture gathering happened in 2015, the local airport went ALL OUT. It changed names to Pensacola Intergalactic Airport, and all their airport’s gates were renamed as Stargates (the Stargate tradition continues annually)
- Sweden’s Stockholm Airport had video games set up – the money went to charity.
This is a cool idea! Charitycades. Arcade Cabinets where your tokens go to Red Cross.
Found at Stockholm Airport. pic.twitter.com/A6CVwU4sRF
— The Geek Buff (@TheGeekBuff) August 15, 2017
- Belgrade Serbia Airport‘s luggage conveyor belt had an “upgrade” so it looked as if suitcases were coming out of Fiat 500s.
- The children’s playground on Zürich, Switzerland’s Observation Deck B is a miniature airport
- Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport has an upright baby grano piano in their TerminalB baggage claim area. Anyone is welcome to play. There are lots of videos on Your Tube of people playing.
- Copenhagen Airport‘s passport control area has step by step instructions on the floor, before you get to the officers
- Since 2008, all of the terminals at Milwaukee’s Mitchell International Airport‘s post-security areas have had “Recombobulation Areas.” Because, let’s face it…that’s what they really are LOLOL!
Recombobulation area pic.twitter.com/UU4Q3864GY
— Mary Boyd (@marykboyd) May 9, 2019
- Jacksonville International Airport is (sort of) shaped like a plane.
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