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Nature trails and yoga transform long-haul flights

<div>While many travellers consider disembarking from the plane and collecting a car rental as the beginning of a holiday, airports are working hard to make long-haul flying an enjoyable and memorable…
While many travellers consider disembarking from the plane and collecting a car rental as the beginning of a holiday, airports are working hard to make long-haul flying an enjoyable and memorable experience and reduce the effects of jet lag. The latest innovations can actually make stopovers fun and a relaxing process. Airport Rentals has tracked down the latest ideas to brighten up your flights and terminal time waiting for connections, so you are refreshed and in fine fettle to start your rental car adventure.    

Dubai Airport, SnoozeCubes

After hours spent in a cramped economy seat, or even a less-cramped business class seat, getting horizontal is a dream for weary travellers - especially those transiting through the busy stopover airport of Dubai International. An airport nap is now possible with 10 “SnoozeCubes” installed at Terminal 1. Although compact, each one boasts a full-sized bed, touch-screen TV with entertainment option and high-speed internet. Rates start at around US$20 an hour. A fun fact: the units were actually designed and built in New Zealand. Other airports are beginning to offer similar services, but Dubai does it best!

Common Use Passenger Processing, spreading globally

This new technology is aiming to streamline check-in procedures worldwide, and help airports to maximise space which is often wasted juggling counters for various airlines. Basically, it allows different airlines to share check-in counters and other processing hardware. Ever stood in a long line while feeling mocked by the endless empty, unused counters? CUPPS, an improvement on earlier Common Use software, is working to change that, and is already used at many airports including Orlando, Las Vegas McCarran, Brussels and Dublin.

Lock-up phone charging, US-wide airports

The Hudson News chain of airport bookstores have devised free cellphone charging kiosks that passengers love. They’re free and come complete with locks, allowing you to leave your phone there as you peruse duty-free shops or grab a bite to eat. And the only price you have to pay for a fully charged phone is digital signage and some advertising in the kiosk. 

Rail Station Check-ins, various airports worldwide

Walking away from check-in after dropping off your heavy bags is a feeling of sweet relief. In Hong Kong, London, Delhi, Moscow and Vienna, it is possible to lighten your travel load at the train station and make your way to the airport unburdened. The Airport Express train in Hong Kong offers check-in at Hong Kong and Kowloon Stations, the Heathrow Express allows you to check in at Paddington Station, The City Air Terminal in Vienna has desks for various airlines, and so on. It looks like this innovation is spreading - so keep up to date!

Yoga Room, San Francisco Airport

Zen is a state coveted by stressed-out travellers, especially those with kids on long-haul flights. But you can find it at San Francisco Airport’s Terminal 2. In 2012, the airport opened the very first yoga room. Free for ticketed passengers airside, it is a quiet, dimly lit studio with mats where you can practice on your own to your heart’s content. Although San Francisco had the original Yoga Room, it is slowly spreading - Dallas Fort Worth and Chicago O’Hare have both caught on. 

Smartgate, Australasian Airports

Clearing passport control is easy in the major airports of Australia and New Zealand. The automated border processing system performs the checks normally made by a customs officer, including facial recognition. Travellers enter their information and e-passport and are issued a ticket, then stand whilst a photo is being taken before passing through the gate. Holders of Australian, New Zealand, Singaporean, UK or US e-passports over the age of 16 can use Smartgates currently, and more passports may be added in the future.

Nature Trail, Singapore Changi Airport

Although a simple idea, this breath of fresh air in one of the world’s biggest airports goes a long way towards making travel more pleasant and easing jet lag. Throughout Terminals 1, 2 and 3 there is a butterfly garden, a rooftop cactus and enchanted garden, an orchard garden complete with koi pond and sunflower garden. All of these natural oases are invigorating after the stale, processed air of a plane. Of course, Changi is not the only airport with a garden. However, it has taken it to a new level with the extensive Nature Trail. 

Airbrau Airport Brewery, Munich Airport

This is admittedly more of a novelty than an innovation, but it is nevertheless a fantastic feature for an airport - especially one in Germany. Those on a stopover can enjoy a local beer brewed onsite without leaving the terminals! Airbrau is located at Munich Airport Center on level 3, and it also features an open-air beer garden for a real German experience. Transiting through this airport is a privilege rather than a hassle! Airbrau is currently the world’s only airport brewery, so cheers!

e-Library, Taiwan Airport

Travellers with time to spare in Taiwan’s Taoyuan International Airport can rent iPads and e-readers which are filled with a variety of works, in Chinese or English. In Terminal 2, the library is fitted with comfortable seating areas, cellphone chargers and pull-out tables for laptops - all you could want from a modern library. This is great for long and boring stopovers.

Innovative Gate, Amsterdam Airport

The Schiphol “Innovative Gate” is aimed at making the wait by the gate an all-around nicer experience. With funky and comfortable seating that looks more like a bar than a waiting room, ambient lighting changes colour as boarding times get closer. There are also billboards featuring helpful destination information, magazines, a mixture of desks, group and single seating and dynamic branding options for various airlines.The concept was developed in the Netherlands, and we hope that gates like this will catch on elsewhere so flying long-haul is no longer a chore.