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The 10 Best Airport Terminals to Be Delayed In Travel setbacks never sounded so good. By K. Aleisha Fetters Photo courtesy of Pitt-Greenville Airport
Once travel purgatories, airport terminals are stepping up their game in hopes that your next travel highlight will be between their gates. Here are 10 of our favorites. Will your holiday plans take you through some of them?
New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, T5 1. Best for DJ Wannabes Elevator music, be damned. JetBlue travelers can now use Rockbot in the airline’s high-tech terminal to pick the songs that play over the loud speakers. You can visit the T5 monitor to check out upcoming tracks, real-time song requests and votes, and user photos, or just download the free app and hit play. Artists including CeeLo Green, The Wanted, Emeli Sande, Jason Derulo, and Daughtry have also played the terminal in JetBlue’s Live From T5 concert series.
Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, T1 2. Best for Foodies “My hometown has some of the best airport food in the country,” says Andrew Zimmern, host of Bizarre Foods America on The Travel Channel. If you have time to sit and slurp, he suggests Shoyu’s pork ramen and platters of crab fried rice with XO sauce and a fried egg on top. Need food for the ride? Surdyk’s Flights will send you off on your travels with terrines, cheeses, jamon Iberico and anything else you need for the flight. I always go for a prosciutto-and-mozzarella on a split pretzel that makes in-flight dining a pleasure. And Minni Bar makes a ham and pimiento cheese sandwich that is as good as they come.”
Singapore’s Changi Airport, T3 3. Best for the Hard-to-Impress It’s difficult to pick the best terminal at this airport, which is part theme park, part spa, and part mall. But with a Balinese rooftop pool—$13 and change nets you shower access, plus a free drink—and free movie theater screening blockbusters 24/7, T3 squeaks by as the best terminal for keeping busy professionals like Arabella Bowen, Editor in Chief of Fodor’s Travel occupied. Still, whatever terminal you end up in, expect reclining chairs, recharging kiosks, and free Wi-Fi hotspots. And here’s hoping for a long layover: If yours is longer than 5 hours, you can score a free, guided 2-hour tour of the surrounding city.
San Francisco International Airport, T2 4. Best for Tree Huggers What would a visit to San Fran be without organic quinoa, reusable hydration stations, paperless ticketing, and the world’s first airport yoga room? That’s exactly what Gensler design firm was thinking when it renovated the joint and made it the nation’s first terminal to earn an LEED Gold certification. No wonder Bowen calls it “the U.S.’s greenest terminal.” Plus, live music series and rotating museum exhibits offer plenty of opps to meet like-minded lasses.
London’s Heathrow Airport, T5 5. Best for Cultural Connoisseurs Besides boasting one of the best airport lounges in the world, T5 is home to more than the standard airport fare. Music agent Arash Shirazi recommends tasting Wagamama’s East Asian cuisine and, of course Plane Food from U.K. native Gordon Ramsay. If you’re lucky, professional musicians may even set your meal’s mood. The London Philharmonic Orchestra has put on its far share of T5 concerts over the years.
Los Angeles International Airport, TBIT 6. Best for Stylemongers Shopping in the City of Angels just became walkable. LAX’s newly finished $2 billion renovation bought the busy Tom Bradley International Terminal its own Westfield shopping district. The 32 retail locations include high-end labels Hugo Boss, Fred Segal, and Kitson LA. Fuel up for your search at Michael Voltaggio’s ink.sack, Umami Burger, or Pink’s Hot Dogs (an LA hot dog institution). Plot your route here.
Las Vegas McCarran Airport, T3 7. Best for Gamblers Here’s your last chance to win big. The airport’s new terminal 3 is complete with 1.9 million square feet—many of which are dedicated to slot machines, according to Peter Greenberg, Travel Editor of CBS News, host of The Travel Detective, and author of The Best Places for Everything: The Ultimate Insider's Guide to the Greatest Experiences Around the World. It also boasts $5 million worth of public artwork, including four replicas of the iconic “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign to help set the tone. Or you could blow through your winnings at the terminal’s 10,000-square-foot duty-free store.
Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, TD 8. Best for Aspiring Chefs Terminal D houses a yoga studio, a free theater, and showers, but its most unique offering is its seamless integration with the Grand Hyatt DFW, says Greenberg. There, travelers on layover can watch award-winning chefs do their thing in the Epicurean Studio/Cooking School, which also offers classes quarterly. Watching all that food can work up an appetite, though, so the Grand Met restaurant also has the industry’s first touch-screen virtual menu, complete with photos and ingredients listings.
Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, T3 9. Best for Yogis One of the country’s most-stressed airports just loosened up big time by launching a yoga room in T3. Next to the terminal’s indoor urban garden, the room is free for travelers, has a sustainable bamboo floor, floor-to-ceiling mirrors, exercise mats, and an area to store your carry-on luggage—and travel stress. Twenty minutes is all it takes to slash stressors and up your brainpower, according to research from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. And the room operates without a trainer—you never know which limber ladies will need help with their down dog.
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Central Terminal 10. Best for Locavores Don’t worry if rain delays hit while you’re here, says Seattle local Harriet Baskas, author of Stuck At The Airport: The Very Best of Services, Dining, and Unexpected Attractions for Travelers. The airport, with plenty of views of the neighboring Mt. Rainier, is home to farm-to-table eats including Anthony’s Homeport & Fish Bar. It’s the highest grossing airport restaurant in North America. Ivar’s is another local favorite famous for its fish and chips and clam chowder. Finish things off with a Washingtonian wine at Vino Volo. Bonus: “There’s street-pricing in the shops and restaurants, which means prices—even on a cup of coffee—can’t exceed what you'd pay at the same shop in town,” she says.
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