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Sauna and Spas at the Airport?
How to Spend a Pleasant Few Hours as a Traveler

By Patrizia Schlosser, dpa, BerlinMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

March 01, 2011--HELSINKI/HAMBURG -- After checking in at an airport, or if you are between flights, you probably would like to make good use of the time you spend waiting.

Many airports offer passengers a range of extra facilities to make that time more pleasant: how would you like to go for a swim or visit a library instead of sitting around with nothing to do? Here's a selection of what's on offer at some of the biggest airports around the world.

Helsinki's "Finair Via Spa" provides its customers with the soothing hands of an experienced masseur. Along with the chance to relax tired muscles there are also four different types of sauna -- after you all you are in Finland. The service is open to anyone transferring flights from Europe to Asia.

"I've known people who have planned their journey so they can spend a few hours here," says Andreas Spaeth from Germany's flag carrier, Lufthansa. Spaeth spends a third of his year travelling by air. When he's on the ground he prefers to be in Helsinki where he can enjoy a panoramic view of the airport's runway while sitting in a sauna at 95 degrees Celsius.

If you have to spend some time in Iceland you can go on a quick excursion to one of the island's famous hot springs. "About 20 minutes drive from Keflavik airport is the 'Blue Lagoon' which is very popular with locals and travellers," says Ute Zimmer from Icelandair in Frankfurt. You can relax in the pleasantly warm lagoon, get a massage or simply spend your time floating around.

Germany's airports cannot offer the same experience -- at least not yet -- but it is possible to get away from it all at the airport. Munich and Hamburg airports offer massages for muscles that have been forced to endure the discomfort of a plane seat. Munich and Frankfurt have solariums while Dusseldorf has a spa with light baths and oxygen therapy. Round it all off with a fresh carrot juice and your body is ready for the next 10-hour journey.

Spas that offer back massages and all the other usual extras are standard at most Asian airports. Among the top airports are Singapore, Incheon near Seoul and Hong Kong which won the top three spots in the "Skytrax Best Airport Awards 2010" competition. Singapore's Changi airport has a roof-top pool in its "Ambassador Transit Hotel" which is also open for non-hotel guests.

"Passengers can also relax surrounded by sunflowers on Changi's other rooftop terrace," says Spaeth.

If a good read or watching a film is of more interest, then Amsterdam's Schiphol airport is for you. The airport has a library with books, DVDs and CDs in 29 languages. "It focuses on Dutch literature," says Alexandra Klaus from the Netherlands' tourist office in Cologne. It's not possible to borrow books from the library but you can download a copy to your computer for your journey for free.

There are also other good reasons for choosing where to transfer your flight. "I always pay attention to which airport I will be transferring flights in," says Spaeth. If he has the choice between a small or large airport Spaeth will take the smaller one. "You rarely have to face delays and there's less walking to do," he says.

The best place to wait at an airport is in a lounge but unfortunately their doors are not open to everyone. The First Class Lounge is only accessible to first class passengers or if you have earned a high grade in a frequent flyer program.

If you do gain access then you can kick back and relax. First Class Lounges can take care of your check-in or reservation and you don't need to park your own car. While waiting for your flight you can pick at the buffet, go for a nap, have a shower or watch TV before being chauffeur-driven to your plane.

"But visiting a lounge is not always a good idea," says Spaeth who has seen what the world's airport lounges have to offer. "That's because many lounges are very ugly and overcrowded."


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Copyright (c) 2011, dpa, Berlin

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