Stringent security measures and airlines' strict check-in times give travellers more time than ever between security and boarding, so availability of amusements at airports has become more important. If you are travelling with children, you might want to know if your departure point has more to offer than a McDonalds. If it doesn't, consider these tips and perhaps you should start packing an extra bag of toys, games, and books.
Travellers need to know what food choices are available at their departure airport. This is especially important as most airlines no longer offer in-flight meals. The popular choices at many airports are chains, such as McDonalds, Burger King, Starbucks etc. Tired travellers aren't up for unpleasant dining surprises, and many would rather eat at a national chain they know than take a risk on a local unknown.
This doesn't mean travellers don't worry about carbs and cholesterol while they are waiting at the airport, however. Luckily, many in-airport cafes and restaurants such as Pret A Manger, Starbucks and McDonalds offer healthy salads and snacks alongside the calorie-laden comfort food favourites.
Quick tips, if you decide to buy and eat at 35,000ft
- Avoid strong-smelling food as it can stink up the entire plane.
- Pick up your own plastic utensils. A lot of airlines won't have a fork for your spaghetti or a spoon for your soup.
- Consider foods wrapped in paper, foil, or plastic, all of which are easy to dispose of.
- It's better to bring too many napkins or wet wipes than too few.
- Always grab a lid for your drinks.
Airport lounges are now the last word in luxury. Complimentary refreshments, newspapers, television and wireless internet access are as standard. Some of the more luxurious lounges have spas, gyms, showers, steam cleaning, shoe shining and, in some cases, babysitting
Business travellers don't need to feel like they are cut off from the office. With Wi-Fi, you'll be able to connect at most airports either through access points in public areas or in airline lounges and clubs.
Typical wireless networks can send signals over a distance of 300ft or so and such signals are not impeded by doors, walls, and windows - so you don't actually have to be in an airport club to use the service. To try it for free, sit close by the entrance.
Major providers of Wi-Fi hotspots in UK airports include The Cloud, BT, and T-Mobile. JiWire highlights free and pay Wi-Fi locations in 144 countries.
On a budget? Quick tips to while away your time at the airport
- Enjoy the drama of people watching. You may see tearful goodbyes, joyous reunions, a frazzled mum dealing with a sulky child...
- Strike up a conversation with perfect strangers. You'd be surprised at how open people are while waiting for a flight.
- Freshen up. Shave, shower, exfoliate. Wash your hair, then dry and style it with the hand dryers.
- Catch up on your reading. Choose the latest bestseller or grab a selection of trashy celebrity magazines.
- Sleep. Check out the budget traveller's guide to sleeping in airports.
Updated February 2013