These are Some of the World’s Most Unique Airports.
Not every airport experience consists of long lines, crowded terminal gates, and no place to charge your phone. Whether it be due to geographical location, non-traditional architecture, or lavish amenities, these airports are some of the most unique in the entire world!
Princess Juliana International Airport, Saint Martin. SXM
Located on the Dutch side of the Caribbean island of Saint Martin, SXM itself is much like any standard airport. However, the unique feature that sets SXM apart from others is its runway. Situated at the very end of the strip is Maho Beach where plane spotters and other tourists gather to watch airplanes take off and arrive. The proximity of the strip provides onlookers with an exhilarating vantage point as the planes glide mere feet over the beach. If you venture to Maho beach, be sure to pack earplugs and hold on! The engines’ blast delivers intense winds that can send an average person flying if not careful.
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Ice Runway, Antarctica NZIR
Far from the tropical beaches of Saint Martin, Antarctica hosts its own daring, seaside runways. Rather than soaring over white sandy beaches, cargo planes full of supplies for the continent’s researchers land on ice-laden airstrips. While many who visit Antarctica make the venture through expedition ships, supplies are often brought in by military aircraft who utilize several different types of runways. The Pegasus White Ice Runway is made from compacted snow atop glacier ice which is suitable for wheeled planes. Other tracks may require specially equipped aircraft with skis and advanced thrusters for takeoff.
King Abdulaziz International Airport, Saudi Arabia JED
Located near the Red Sea in Saudi Arabia, JED was opened in 1981 and has been undergoing extensive upgrades over the last several years. With a soft opening in spring 2019, the airport is expected to have a full launch later this year. Key features included in the upgrades are a transportation center that is adorned by internal gardens, a million-liter (264,172 gallons) aquarium, and a mosque that can host 3,000+ worshippers. With its proximity to Mecca, the airport also built the iconic Hajj Terminal to handle 80,000+ pilgrims at a time. What makes the terminal itself so unique is the open-air concept with its signature Bedouin tent styled covers. Arriving passengers pass through the air-conditioned portion of the terminal where medical services and baggage claim is located before moving into the outdoor portion. Here, souks, places to rest, and dining options are beneath the signature conical fabric roofs that provide ample shade and natural airflow. The design concept has earned the terminal notoriety as an environmentally friendly building.
Hong Kong International Airport, Hong Kong HKG
Serving as a connection to over 200 destinations, HKG is one of the busiest airports in the world. In 2018 HKG received over 70 million passengers on top of 5 million tons of mail and cargo during the same year. With so many daily passengers, the airport puts comfort at the top of its priority list. Whether you have an extended layover, a long delay, or are just someone who likes to arrive at the airport nice and early, there is so much to do to stay entertained and comfortable. Toss out those sweatpants and choose from over 100 shops to update your travel wardrobe, including luxury brands like Versace and Prada. When hunger sets in, options are aplenty with traditional Cantonese cuisine in the airport’s food court. If you find yourself with an extended delay that still doesn’t give quite enough time to explore the city, take in a film at the IMAX theater, home to Hong Kong’s most massive cinema screen. Visitors can also stop by the Aviation Discovery Center to learn about the fascinating world of aviation through numerous interactive exhibits and graphics including a realistic flight simulator!
Changi International Airport, Singapore SIN
There’s a reason SIN won over 30 “Best Airport” awards in 2018 alone. Since opening, the airport’s Jewel Changi Airport entertainment and retail complex that links the airport’s three passenger terminals has gained an enormous amount of media coverage. Set within ten stories, Jewel offers more than luxurious shops and unique dining options (308 shops and 209 places to eat, respectively) but astounding experiences throughout.
“The component of the traditional mall is combined with the experience of nature, culture, education, and recreation, aiming to provide an uplifting experience… we aim to create a place where the people of Singapore interact with the people of the world,” said lead architect, Moshe Safdie.
Starting in the heart of Jewel, visitors are greeted with Asia’s most extensive indoor garden, the Shiseido Forest Valley. Engulfing five stories of the complex, the idyllic gardens provide visitors with a sense of calm, bathed in natural sunlight with the world’s largest and tallest indoor waterfall at its core. Visitors can take a gentle hike through the Shiseido Forest, passing rocky waterfalls as sprays of mist enhance the experience. At the top level of the complex, visitors can take a walk along the canopy bridge for 360 views of the waterfall, 23 meters above the ground.
The adventures don’t stop here! Found throughout the park are interactive art exhibits, mirror, and hedge mazes themed gardens including a butterfly garden, viewing malls to watch arriving and departing flights and play areas for children and adults alike including the world’s tallest slide in an airport.
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