Airline travel at any time of year can be a constant string of waiting around – arriving at the airport up to 3 hours before your flight, long security queues, baggage screening, liquid and gel restrictions – but as we head into the busy holiday season its time to plan for your airport experience. Some trips can involve less time actually flying than spent at the airport pre-departure and post-arrival. One of the most arduous parts of your flight can be the wait in a stuffy, crowded airport departure lounge.
If you have an early morning departure, why not stay at the airport? Many major international airports have hotels connected to or actually within the airport terminal. An additional expense you might say, but I would rather spend a few extra dollars than miss the first flight of my long-haul, 3 stopover, tight connection flight to my holiday destination. Plus you get an extra day of holiday time.
In Melbourne, it takes less than a minute to walk along the undercover walkway to the Hilton Melbourne Airport. The hotel building is completely soundproofed so you cant hear the planes, but it is fantastic to watch the twinkling lights as they take off at night. There is in-room flight information plus all the facilities of a 5 star Hilton – 24 hour room service, gym, business centre, pool/spa/sauna. Why not check in for your flight then go back to the hotel for a leisurely breakfast. There are also a range of airport hotels in the suburbs around Tullamarine airport.
The Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel is actually within the international terminal – just take the elevator from the hotel to the International Departures area. Talk about location, location, location. Featuring spacious floor-to-ceiling soundproof windows offering views over the mountains or ocean, a high-tech electronic system providing fingertip control over everything from temperature to lighting, and even a Health Club and Spa. You might want to stay for more than a night.
But what do you do if you have a long connection time between your flights? You may not be permitted to leave the airport area, and you envy those businessmen with their airline memberships allowing them access to the airport lounges. After many long hours travel with movement constraint onboard a plane, nothing is more inviting than to come into a clean, tranquil, cozy and spacious environment – and many airports are offering public lounges. You can purchase entry passes before you fly.
The Travellers Lounge at Hong Kong International Airport is open to all travellers regardless of airline or class of travel. It is open 24hours/365 days and offers comfortable seating, international food & bevereges, bathroom facilities with showers, internet access, international newspapers/magazines/TV, luggage storage, even free local phone calls. You can buy a pass for 2 hours use for around AUD$30.
In Kuala Lumpur the Plaza Premium Lounge is located at the Satellite Building that caters for international arrivals and departures in Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Facilities provided include high speed Internet workstations, a variety of food and beverages, shower amenities, golf putting, the latest movies and international magazines/newspapers. There are several pass options ranging from a 2 hour day pass for around AUD$35 to a 6 hour day package including a 15 minute seated massage for around AUD$60.
Singapore’s Changi Airport houses the Plaza Premium Lounge on the 3rd Level Departure/Transit Lounge in Terminal 2. The self service buffet bar is amply stocked with wholesome salads, freshly prepared finger sandwiches, pastries, cookies and seasonal local and imported fruits. Hot and cold beverages are readily available. There is also internet and email access, bathrooms with shower facilities, international newspapers and magazines, and even free local phone calls. For a small additional fee you can work out in the fully equipped gym (you can hire workout gear), have a massage, treat yourseslf to Oxygen Therapy or even have a manicure. If you really need to catch up on some sleep, you can book a private ‘Napping Suite’ for up to 3 hours. A 2 hours pass costs around AUD$30.
The passes are also a great gift idea for the organised traveller who already has all their luggage, adaptors and finances sorted.