How to survive long layovers?
The cheapest tickets often have that one part people neglect when buying, which is waiting at the airport between flights. Passengers often disregard it, not thinking how much they are going to spend during longer layovers, on food and drinks, shopping out of boredom or to use the internet. Yes, not all airports have internet, and free WiFi does not also mean it is fast and reliable.
Another frequently neglected factor is that you can lose time for a not very significant saving. Hours, half a day or night at the expense of the trip itself that does not always last several weeks. Nobody likes long waits, especially if the airport offers only the very basic. Some airports offer free sightseeing, which is definitely a big plus because otherwise people would probably not visit the city. But what can you do without it?
How do you survive long layovers?
The best option is to go to the city. If your passport and visa allow it, and if you have enough time, going to the city can save you. Some of the better known and larger airports offer tours:
Singapore Changi International – The Free Singapore Tours counter is located between Terminals 2 and 3. Six departures are scheduled daily. The tours take two and a half hours, which means that a layover of five and a half or more hours is enough.
Seoul Incheon Airport – Transit Tour counters are located on the first, second and third floor. Several tours are offered, lasting from one to five hours. Reservations can be made online in advance. A layover three hours longer than the desired tour is sufficient.
Hamad International – Doha – If you fly in on Qatar and continue your trip with the same airline, you can visit the Doha City Tour desk. No reservations are needed. The minimum layover is six hours.
Istanbul Ataturk International – Turkish Airlines passengers can take organized city tours. You should report to the Hotel Desk counter in the International Arrivals part, at least half an hour before the tour. For those with a layover of six or more hours, this is an ideal option.
Tokyo Narita Airport – The counter is in the Arrivals lobby on Terminals 1 and 2. The tours last for three hours, which means you need a layover of five or more hours.
If you don’t feel like going on a tour or none is offered, my advice would be to pay for admission to the business lounge. The price ranges from USD 25 to 40. For that money, you can eat and drink as much as you want. It’s not top restaurant food, but many lounges are improving significantly in the food they offer, especially in the east when traveling to Asia.
Some lounges also have bathrooms, showers, beds, comfortable armchairs everywhere and passengers feel safe because you cannot get in without being checked. Lounges have their own WiFi, much better than the airport one. For a stay of three or more hours, it’s definitely worth it.
More recently, some have started offering different types of sleeping booths. They look and perhaps are claustrophobic, but for those who need it, it’s a good option. Some airport have hotels close by where you can rent a room for a certain number of hours, but to do that you need to cross the border. For more information, check Sleeping Airports.
At large airports it is easy to find a good offer. The problem is with the smaller and less developed ones. They require a different kind of preparation. Take books (paper books), additional batteries, a blanket, extra clothes and sandwiches. Many airports have working hours and at some point everything closes. This does not mean they’ll kick you out into the street, but there’ll be nothing except water in the toilets until the morning.
Prepare on time and it will be easier. If the difference in prices is not too big, opt for the tickets with less time wasted at airports (unless it’s Singapore Changi).
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