Monday, 13 February 2017

They fell in love on a layover

What if you fell in love here on a layover?
Have you ever wondered what could happen to you on a layover? What could really happen? What if you fell in love? If you think it couldn't happen, read on. It happened to them:

A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage - Mwita and Emma
It is a state of intimacy that we relish living, but due to its abstract nature we rarely pay attention to it. We may not understand love, but we know very well that it “conquers all.” For the 32-year-old Kenyan Justus Mwita, he never expected to be caught by his then Swedish girlfriend’s unblinking eyes, which left him both taken aback and pleased while he was waiting for his next flight to Nairobi at Doha’s international airport (Qatar)... [read their story]

IT HAPPENED TO ME: I Fell In Love With A Guy I Met At The Airport and Starting Dating Long-Distance - anonymous
That first plane ride was 12 hours, until Abu Dhabi, where I was stuck for 14 hours and he was stuck for three. I was a bright-eyed twenty-year-old, fresh out of my sophomore year of college. I was off to spend three months in Kenya -- not my first abroad trip, but certainly my first (and longest) solo trip. I was overwhelmed, excited, apprehensive, sad, anxious, and nervous. In the airport, all of these feelings culminated in certain scatter-brained behavior, like continually losing my passport. While I was waiting to board my plane, I dropped my passport... [read her story].
xoJane - Read more stories on the xoJane blog

Related resources - yes, it's what it sounds like
Taxi to Petra: a love story
Looking for love on a layover
Romantic layover ideas
Private Tour to Tunnel of Love from Kiev

Monday, 12 December 2016

Rock Your Layover: Zurich

Have a layover coming up in Zurich? Wondering what you could do with your time?

Here's a little inspiration. We've gathered the following stories from those who have experienced a layover in Zurich. Learn what they did, if it was worth it, and their tips.

Top 10 Tour Picks
Prefer to pre-plan? Here are our top picks.
1. Private Tour: Zurich City Highlights (2 or 4 hours)
2. Private Tour: 4-hour Zurich City Tour
3. Private Tour: 2-hour Downtown Walking Tour
4. Jungfraujoch: Top of Europe Day Trip from Zurich
5. 4-hour Quad Tour in Zurich
6. Swiss National Museum Admission and Classic Trolley Sightseeing Tour in Zurich
7. 2 for 1 Digital Swiss Coupon Pass Zurich
8. Collect the Crystals Scavenger Hunt in Zurich
9. Culinary Tour from Zurich with Traditional Swiss Cheese Fondue Dinner
10. Small-Group Chocolate and Sweets Walking Tour of Zurich's Old Town

FREE Zurich
A few freebies...
FREE Zurich running tours - Run Happy Tour
FREE Zurich self-guided walking tours - GPS My City
FREE Zurich self-guided walking tour - Jetsetting Fools
FREE Zurich walking tours - Free Walk Zurich
FREE Things to Do in Zurich - The Zurich English Student

Getting Out and About in Zurich
Zurich International Airport (ZUR) transportation guide - IHateTaxis
Getting to/from Zurich Airport - IHateTaxis blog
Getting Around in Zurich - Zurich Tourism

At the Airport
Prefer to stay at the airport? There's lots to do...
Services at Zurich Airport - IHateTaxis
Transit Hotel and Day Rooms - Zurich Airport
Showers - Zurich Airport
Layover and Lounges - Zurich Guide
Zurich Airport videos (English and German) - Zurich Airport Magazine
Zurich Airport Review -Travel Adept

Related resources
Travelers' Guide to Buying Swiss-made Products in Zurich - GPS My City
Swiss Parks & UNESCO World Heritage sites - Zurich Region - My Switzerland
Zurich's Best Museums and Attractions - TimeOut
Official Zurich City Guide - Zurich Tourism
Zurich Layover Ideas and Things to Do in Zurich - LayoverIdeas

Saturday, 10 December 2016

10 unique Rome tours

The Colosseum at dusk
Looking for something different to do on your Rome layover?

If you want to avoid the crowds, or have simply seen the big sights, it's easy to get off the beaten track in the city.

Here are some unique Rome tour options to consider:
1. Day Trip from Rome: Ancestors Tour - Discovering Your Italian Family History
2. Vatican's Apostolic Palace Tour ( the Pope's private residence)
3. Borghese Gallery Revealed - A Tour with an Art Historian
4. Vittoriano Panoramic Rooftop Viewing with Skip-the-Line Colosseum Tour
5. Rome Photography Walking Tour: Learn How to Take Professional Photos
6. Rome Mussolini's Bunker and Villa Torlonia in 3 hours
7. Ancient Roman Dinner
8. Rome Art Safari and Jewish Ghetto Group Treasure Hunt
9. Rome Baroque Concert and Tour at Church of Sant'Agnese in Agone
10. Dinner at Local Chef and Sommelier's Home in Rome

Plus 3 great freebies!
40 FREE things to do in Rome - Lonely Planet
FREE museums in Rome (first Sunday/month) - BB Roma
FREE Rome walking tours - Free Rome Working Tour

Related reources
10 Unique Paris Tours
10 Unique NYC Tours
10 Unique Los Angeles Tours
Layover Ideas and Things to Do in Rome
Rome Fiuminco International Airport (FCO) transportation guide - IHateTaxis

Rome Ciampino International Airport (CIA) transportation guide - IHateTaxis

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Luxury Layover: Tokyo

Ginza Wako Clock
Tokyo's Ginza area, one of most luxurious shopping districts in the world
Do you crave a day of luxury in Tokyo? Or perhaps a whole weekend?

There are many possibilities. We've sourced the following to give you some ideas.

Here are some luxury Tokyo tour and transfer options you might consider:
1. Private Custom Tokyo Tour by Stretch Limousine
2. Private Custom Cherry Blossoms Tour by Chartered Vehicle
3. Private Custom Full Day Tokyo Manga Anime Tour by Chartered Vehicle
4. Tokyo Private Custom Full-Day Walking Tour
5. Viator VIP: Mt Fuji Private Tour Including Exclusive Visit with Priests at Sengen Shrine
6. Private Tea Ceremony with Kimono in a Traditional Japanese Garden
7. Oiran Show Including Dinner at Luxury Kaiseki Restaurant in Roppongi
8. Private Japanese Garden Photo Shoot in Tokyo
9. Mt Fuji Private One-Day Tour by Chartered Vehicle from Tokyo
10. Private Tour: VIP Tsukiji Sushi Lesson with a Master Chef

A Tokyo treat to remember your layover: a few luxury shopping ideas and tours:
Top Luxury Souvenirs to Bring Back From Tokyo - Global Blue
Gift With a Twist Tokyo - TimeOut Tokyo
Explore Tokyo's Specialty Shopping Districts - TimeOut Tokyo
Kimono Shopping in Tokyo - Global Blue
Shopping in Tokyo - Like a Local Guide
Specialty retailers in Tokyo - Where in Tokyo
Private Tokyo Custom Shopping Tour by Chartered Vehicle/
Private Tokyo Custom Shopping Tour With a Geisha

Related resources
Tokyo subway stations to get luxury lavatories before Olympics - The Ashai Shimbun
10 Unique NYC Tours
Luxury Layover: London
Layover Ideas and Things to Do in Tokyo
Tokyo Haneda International Airport (HND) transportation guide
New Tokyo Narita International Airport (NRT) transportation guide

Friday, 21 October 2016

Layover Ideas for the World's Worst Airports (2016)

The Terminal

Sleeping in Airports has recently released their 2016 Best and Worst Airports Survey results.

This year, there are 2 "worst" lists of interest: the WORST Airports Overall and WORST Airports for Layovers.

To soften the blow, just in case you realize your next destination is on one of the lists, we've put together some ideas to help you survive your layover.

After the #1 Worst Airport - for both the overall list and the layovers list - we've blended the 2 lists, (even though there is not much overlap) and put the remaining 18 lousy layover spots in order by destination name.

Tip: you may need a transit visa to leave some of the airports listed - do your research before departing!

Jeddah King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED)

#1 on the Worst Airports Overall list - was #2 last year
#1 on the Worst Airports for Layovers List

Jeddah Airport Arrival Section
Be ready to line up for hours, especially during the Haj
creativecommons image ikhlasulamal on Flickr
Survey lowlights:
• "Careless, arrogant and rude" immigration officers (when they are around) and multi-hour long queues
• Chaotic, crowded, inadequate seating
• "Cleanliness is but a mythical concept"

Layover ideas:
• Take advantage of the free WiFi or splurge for lounge access
• Visit Souq al-Alawi or Naseef House museum (great evening views from top floor)
• Slip away to Atallah Happy Land Park for rides, skating, bowling, theatres, dining, shopping

Layover resources:
Jeddah Airport Sleeping Guide
Jeddah Airport transportation guide
How to Obtain a Saudi Arabian Transit Visa
• Jeddah, Saudi Arabia - I Am Bound Here

Beijing Capital International Airport, China (PEK)

#7 on the Worst Airports for Layovers list

Beijing Capital Airport (PEK) Terminal 3E
Expect confusion at Beijing Capital Airport
creative commons image beltzner on Flickr
 Survey lowlights:
• Maddening to navigate: "Nobody speaks English or will help you if you are about to miss your flight"
• WiFi requires a Chinese credit card and Chinese mobile phone
• No showers, no rest areas, few restaurants

Layover ideas:
Book yourself into the BGS Premier Lounge
• Spend your layover at the newer Terminal 3
• Escape to the Hilton Beijing Capital Hotel

Layover resources:
Beijing Capital Airport Sleeping Guide
Beijing Capital Airport transportation guide
Beijing layover ideas

Caracas Simon Bolivar International Airport (CCS)

#8 on the Worst Airports Overall list - was #5 on the list in 2015

Aeropuerto Internacional de Maiquetía
Try not to let the crazy patterns and colours give you a headache!
Survey lowlights:
• "Hot, chaotic, chair-free"
• Bathrooms lack water, toilet paper, cleanliness"
• Lack of luggage safety (unwrapped bags are ripe for the picking"

Layover ideas:
• Cough up the money for private lounge access
• Take advantage of the free WiFi
• Go on a city tour (just leave 5 hours at the airport to get through the chaos)

Layover resources:
Caracas Airport Sleeping Guide
Caracas Airport transportation guide
Caracas layover ideas

Crete Chania International Airport, Greece (CHQ)

#6 on the Worst Airports Overall list - new to the list in 2016

If you have time to spare, take a few decent photos of Chania Airport
(and share them with a Creative Commons licence on Flickr)
Survey lowlights:
• Long lines, chaotic security and lack of seating
• Lack of air conditioning, despite it being 30C/85F temperatures
• One basic food vendor hawking expensive sandwiches

Layover ideas:
•  Pass time reading up on the privatization of 14 of Greece's regional airports (including Chania)
• Pack a gripping novel that you can read as you stand in the lines
• Take a taxi to Elafonisi Beach or Stavro Beach (a Zorba the Greek film location)

Layover resources:
Crete Chania Airport Sleeping Guide
Crete Chania Airport transportation guide
Crete layover ideas

Crete Heraklion International Airport, Greece (HER)

#7 on the Worst Airports Overall list - new to the list in 2016

Survey lowlights:
• Long lines, crowded lines, uncomfortable seating and no air-conditioning
• Customers vent about poor customer service
• "A sad way to end a visit to an otherwise delightful island"

Layover ideas:
• Visit the café-bar in the terminal
• Take taxi or tour to the Knossos Palace
• Visit the Archaeological Museum in Heraklion

Layover resources:
Crete Heraklion Airport Sleeping Guide
Crete Heraklion Airport transportation guide
Crete layover ideas

Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, China (CAN)

#6 on the Worst Airports for Layovers list

Looks can be deceiving!
Creative commons image asagayakei on Flickr
 Survey lowlights:
• "I saw airport staff pushing and hurtling abuse at international tourists"
• Significantly less-than-friendly staff
• Overcrowded, disorganized and short on chairs

Layover ideas:
• Splurge for the lounge!
• Take a visa-free layover tour of Guangzhou
• Check into the on-site Guangzhou Baiyun Pullman Hotel

Layover resources:
Guangzhou airport: six-hour layover
Things to do in Guangzhou - TripAdvisor
Guangzhou Airport Sleeping Guide
Guangzhou Airport transportation guide
Guangzhou layover ideas

Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport, USA (IAH)

#8 on the Worst Airports for Layovers list

You can count the ceiling tiles while you wait around...
 Survey lowlights:
• Painfully long lines lead to many missed connections: "600 people for the only 2 of 40 immigration desks... for 3 hours"
• Then you're stuck with lounges full of armrests and bright lights
• "It's these kind of easily-fixed problems that drive passeners to the brink of insanity"

Layover ideas:
• Visit the XpresSpa (Terminal D or E) or seek solitude in one of the inter-faith chapels (Terminal C South, D or E)
• Book a private Houston sightseeing tour
• Check into the Marriott Houston Airport at George Bush Intercontinental

Layover resources:
Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport Sleeping Guide
Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport transportation guide
Houston layover ideas

Juba International Airport, South Sudan (JUB) -

#2 on the Worst Airports Overall list - new to the list in 2016

Juba Airport under construction
There is a new Juba terminal under construction,
but it is years behind schedule (wikicommons)
 Survey lowlights:
• "You watch what can only be described as an auction in the luggage area"
• Chaotic and sweaty, "like a mosh pit sauna"
• Illogical lines

Layover ideas:
• Escape the airport to get something to eat; Logali House is fairly close to the airport and has free WiFi (50m past Sahara Hotel, take a right on the gravel road)
• Entertain yourself at the air-conditioned JIT supermarket in town
• Visit the Roots Project women's cooperative behind the basketball courts for local handicrafts

Layover resources:
Juba Airport Sleeping Guide
Juba Airport transportation guide
The Joys of Juba Airport

Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM)

#10 on the Worst Airports Overall list - was #3 on the list in 2015

Nepal Mural of Buddha's Life at Kathmandu Airport Arrival Area
Check to see if you can see this Buddha mural
creativecommons image jaygalvin on Flickr
Survey lowlights:
• Crowds and long immigration lines
• Poor signage and unhelpful staff
• "Some of my darkest memories are from having to use the toilets at this airport"

Layover ideas:
• Be sure to admire the mural of Buddha's life in Arrivals
• Escape and take a custom city tour, rickshaw tour, or visit a spa
• Do anything that will allow you to pee elsewhere!

Layover resources:
Kathmandu Airport Sleeping Guide
Kathmandu Airport transportation guide
Layover Ideas & Stuff to do in Kathmandu
A Night in Kathmandu - National Geographic
How to survive arriving into Kathmandu - The Longest Way Home
Kathmandu Layover - Crazy Guy on a Bike

London Luton International Airport, England (LTN)

#9 on the Worst Airports Overall list - new to the list in 2016

Luton airport3
London Luton, in better days
 Survey lowlights:
• Temporarily reduced space due to renovations = long lines and few seats
• Dirty floors and bathrooms
• Being charged for virtually everything, from "drop-offs near the terminal, weighing suitcases to plastic bags for liquids"

Layover ideas:
• Splurge for the lounge
• Check into a nearby Luton Airport hotel
• Take a private London tour or go for a walk! (left luggage available)

Layover resources:
Things to do in Luton - TripAdvisor
• Fearless Flyer: EasyJet's fear of flying course at Luton
London Luton Airport Sleeping Guide
London Luton Airport transportation guide
London layover ideas

Los Angeles International Airport, USA (LAX)

#3 on the Worst Airports for Layovers list

TSA queue at LAX international terminal, Santa Monica, Los Angeles, California, USA
Just another TSA line at LAX
creative commons image Doctorow on Flickr
 Survey lowlights:
• Sporadic but confusing signs, and long distances between gates
• Quality differences between terminals
• "Not what travellers coming from Asian hubs are used to... no pay-per-use lounges, no showers and no sleep-friendly quiet zones."

Layover ideas:
• Explore the airport (8 Places to Check Out at LAX After You’ve Checked-In)
• Head on over to the Tom Bradley International Terminal to enjoy a long layover
Visit the observation deck in the famous LAX theme building (some weekends)
• Check out Activities near LAX from LA Tourist
• Take unique tour in Los Angeles that you can't take anywhere else: 10 unique LA tours

Layover resources:
Los Angeles Airport Sleeping Guide
Los Angeles Airport transportation guide
Los Angeles Airports: Which is best? (BUR, LAX, LGB, ONT, SNA)
Los Angeles layover ideas

Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Philippines (MNL)

#2 on the Worst Airports for Layovers list

Line ups outside one of NAIA's terminals
Survey lowlights:
• Terrible inter-terminal transfer process between the 4 terminals (3 hours is not enough!)
• Poor signage and overall confusion
• Scams and extortion (did you hear about the bullet-planting ploy?)

Layover ideas:
• Pre-book a private inter-terminal transfer before you leave home
• Take a layover tour (there is even an overnight layover tour with hotel available)
• Get a massage from the visually-impaired massage therapists in the NAIA domestic terminal (T3)

Layover resources:
Manila Ninoy Aquino Airport Sleeping Guide
Manila Ninoy Aquino Airport transportation guide
Manila Ninoy Aquino Airport to Manila Clark Airport private transfer
Rock Your Layover: Manila
Manila layover ideas
• Tip: this airport is commonly referred to as "NAIA" by locals

Miami International Airport, USA (MIA)

#5 on the Worst Airports for Layovers list

Seek out Casey and Liz, MIA Goodwill Ambassadors
Survey lowlights:
• Outrageously long lines, long distances and misleading signage
• Broken toilets, dirty floors and lack of seating
• No free WiFi

Layover ideas:
• Hit the beach, it's just 16km/10miles and a away! (baggage storage in Terminal E)
• Read the bios and see if you can spot any of the staff featured on Airport 24/7 Miami or learn about the show
• Find out if Casey the dog is working

Layover resources:
Miami Airport Sleeping Guide
Miami Airport transportation guide
Miami layover ideas

New York John F Kennedy, USA (JFK)

#10 on the Worst Airports for Layovers list

The T5 roof
JFK's Terminal 5 rooftop terrace is a breath of fresh air
creative commons image dougletterman on Flickr
 Survey lowlights:
• "As a major gateway to the United States, this airport is an absolute embarrassment"
• Long patience-testing lines and labyrinth-like hallways, busy 24 hours a day
• Inconsistent conditions (Terminal 1 is dirty, noisy and uncomfortable, vs aesthetically pleasing Terminal 8)

Layover ideas:
• Visit the Terminal 5 JetBlue rooftop terrace (post-security, near gate 28, free WiFi, 6am-10pm)
• Check into the Ramada Plaza Hotel JFK International Airport, the only on-site hotel
• Take a unique tour in that you can't take anywhere else: 10 unique NYC tours, 10 more unique NYC tours, 10 extra unique NYC tours

Layover resources:
New York JFK Airport Sleeping Guide
New York JFK Airport transportation guide
Private Helicopter Transfer from JFK to Manhattan (return)
New NYC Airports blog for aviation buffs 
New York City layover ideas

New York Newark Liberty International Airport, USA (EWR)

#4 on the Worst Airports for Layovers list

AirTrain EWR Airport
You could always spend your layover riding the Airtrain...
creative commons image royalport on Flickr
 Survey lowlights:
• Unreliable inter-terminal train, slow back-up busses, broken moving walkways, and unhelpful staff
• In need of cleaning and "a reduction in the resident pigeon population"
• "I would rather re-route my entire flight and pay more money than to see Newark Airport ever again"

Layover ideas:
• Shop at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Store in Terminal C
• Pray a little... there's an Interfaith Chapel, pre-security, between gates C70-99 and C101-115
• You are almost in New York baby, so get out and see the city! 10 unique NYC tours, 10 more unique NYC tours, 10 extra unique NYC tours

Layover resources:
New York Newark Airport Sleeping Guide
New York Newark Airport transportation guide
Private Helicopter Transfer from Newark to Manhattan (return)
New York City layover ideas

Paris Charles de Gaulle, France (CDG)

#9 on the Worst Airports for Layovers list

Aeroport CDG Terminal 1
Paris CDG Airport is simply massive, and can be confusing
creative commons image yisris on Flickr
Survey lowlights: 
• "A 90 minute stopover is way too short, even without checked luggage"
• Moving between 9 terminals is a nightmare, befuddling map
• No 24-hour dining options

Layover ideas:
• Download the  'My Airport' Smartphone app
• See the doc or get a vaccination at the 24-hour health centre (Terminal 2A, Arrivals, entrance 017)
• Take a 7-hour private Paris layover tour

Layover resources:
Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport Sleeping Guide
Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport transportation guide
Paris layover ideas

Port Harcourt International Airport (PHC)

#3 on the Worst Airports Overall list - was #1 last year

PH Airport1
It looks nice from this vantage point, but...
creativecommons image sixoone on Flickr
Survey lowlights:
• "The arrival hall is in fact a tent/mosquito sanctuary that lacks toilets and air conditioning"
• The "old luggage pile" (no conveyor belts) so pack well and keep your valuables with you
• Allegations of corrupt staff

Layover ideas:
• It's worthwhile reading up on this area of Nigeria first
• Get out and stretch your legs if you can
• Travel with a jacket or blanket you can sit on

Layover resources:
Port Harcourt Airport Sleeping Guide
Port Harcourt Airport transportation guide

Santorini Thira National Airport, Greece (JTR)

#5 on the Worst Airports Overall list - new to the list in 2016

You can learn the Greek alphabet on your Santorini
photo copyright sampai sudah blog
Survey lowlights:
• "You get stuck waiting in long lineups under the hot Greek sun."
• Small rooms without air conditioning after security
• Indecipherable announcements and dirty toilets

Layover ideas:
• Learn about the privatization of 14 of Greece's regional airports (including Santorini)
• Check out the airport's outdoor terrace
• Escape to a taverna, if you can manage it - there's sure to be one a 5 minute taxi ride away

Layover resources:
Santorini Thira Airport Sleeping Guide
Santorini Thira Airport transportation guide
Santorini layover ideas

Tashkent International Airport (TAS)

#4 on the Worst Airports Overall list - was #4 on the list in 2015

Tashkent airport
Looks can be deceiving - the reviews aren't as nice as this bar!
creativecommons image lindako on Flickr
Survey lowlights:
• "One of Dante's circles of hell"
• Long lines and multiple checkpoints
• Pushy mobs: "I fell... and passengers walked over me while I was on the floor"

Layover ideas:
• Make the most of the free WiFi!
• Visit Chorsu (oldest bazaar in Central Asia) or Tellya Sheikh Mosque (home to the world's oldest Koran)
• Tashkent TV Tower offers great views of the city

Layover resources:
Tashkent Airport Sleeping Guide
Tashkent Airport transportation guide
• Tourist Visa to Uzbekistan
Tashkent things to do - Virtual Tourist

For more, check out the juicy sublists of 2016 Worst Airports for Africa, Asia, Caribbean & Central America, Europe, Middle East, North America, South America and the South Pacific. There's also a list of the Worst Airports for Sleeping!

Past losers
Missing from this year's lists are the 5 airports below. Unless there have been miracles, they are probably still dismal, so check out last year's post - Layover Ideas for the World's Worst Airports (2015) - for layover ideas in case you are headed their way:

Have YOUR say:
Vote in the Sleeping in Airports 2017 Best and Worst Airports Survey

Related resources
Greece signs privatization of 14 regional airports with Germany's Fraport
PaxEx: what airports can learn from Frankfurt
Airport libraries and books
Learning Layover: Jewelry
Carp Diem: Daytrips from Rome
Go running on your layover
Roundtrip layover tours from airports