Beam me up, Scotty. In
Star Trek, Captain Kirk commands chief engineer, Montgomery ‘Scotty’ Scott to transport him to the Starship Enterprise. If I had a Scotty in my life, I’d never get on a plane, wait at airports, find a chair, sip coffee, yawn, stare at the clock, yawn again. And wait, and wait more during the unending layovers.
Now, layovers are no longer dreadful. It’s a chance to see another city on way to another city. A few airports offer half-day sight-seeing tours, others have fascinating layover specials for a price. Here’s a quick pick of good layover airports.
Changi Airport (Singapore) If you have a short layover, join a free 2.5-hour guided tour — the Heritage Tour runs five times daily and the City Sights Tour runs twice daily. Each tour includes two short stopovers at famous landmarks. Free Singapore Tour registration booths are located within the transit area and only walk-in registrations are allowed. However, Singapore Airlines and SilkAir passengers may pre-book the Free Singapore Tour.
Passengers below 18 years old are not allowed to join the tour alone unless accompanied by an adult.
If you have more time to spare, or have a long layover, opt for a Changi Stopovers package which begins with a 2-day-1-night stay in a hotel of your choice, including a free SIM card and a free one-way airport transfer from as little as S$63.Rs 100 = 1.93 Singapore Dollar.
For details, visit: www.changiairport.com
Hamad International Airport (Doha)
If your transit is more than 5 hours, you can take a journey to the heart of the desert and enjoy a real desert adventure, or experience the beautiful city of Doha in the privacy of your very own chauffeur-driven car with prices starting from 250 QAR. Other options include Doha City Tour (QAR 75); Half-day desert safari (QAR 358); Sunset stand-up paddle boat and kayak (QAR 265); Doha Hilton Hotel day use (QAR 147)
Tours are bookable in advance online until 48 hours prior to arrival and upon arrival at Discover Qatar Transit Tours desk (located at concourse A, towards Gate A4). You must arrive at Discover Qatar Tours desk in the airport 90 minutes before the tour starts.
Rs 100 = 5 Qatari Rial.For details, visit: www.qatarairways.com.
Book your tour at: www.discoverqatar.qa
Visit Finland’s StopOver programme provides passengers time to explore Finland from 5 hours to 5 days. The programme includes countless options — city tour; a day trip to Lapland, the home of Santa Claus; snowmobiling safari; midnight sun (in June); Northern Lights; archipelago tours; smoke sauna. Even a day-trip to Tallinn, the capital of Estonia.
Rs 100 = 1.26 Euro.For details, visit: www.visitfinland.com/stopover/.
You can also book layover tours at www.getyourguide.com
Ataturk International Airport (Istanbul)
If you have a connecting international flight in Istanbul with a layover between 6-24 hours, opt for free Touristanbul Service that offers three extensive tours which last for 6 or 9 hours and covers the city’s most famous sights, such as the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and the Basilica Cistern. To be eligible for free Istanbul tours from the airport, you should be flying Turkish Airlines. You don’t need a listing or booking to join the free tour. You can sign up for the tour at the Hotel Desk in the International Arrivals Terminal of Istanbul Airport.
Before visiting Turkey, you can get an e-visa from www.evisa.gov.tr/en website.
Rs 100 = 8 Turkish Lira.
For details, visit: www.turkishairlines.com
Taoyuan International Airport (Taipei)
Avail the free half-day free tour from the airport. Available to transit or transfer passengers with 7- to 24-hour layovers before their next connecting flight, who have valid R.O.C. visas or come from countries eligible for visa-exempt entry (Indians are visa exempt). To avoid passengers missing their departure flight, morning tour registration is not available for passengers who are scheduled to depart before 3:00 p.m. on the day of the tour; afternoon tours are not for passengers who will depart before 8:30 p.m. on the same day.
As there is no room for luggage on the bus, all luggage should be stored at the airport baggage service counter (fee required) before boarding the bus.
If you stop over for 48-hours, take a day trip to Taroko Gorge in Toroko National Park which is easily accessible by train (two hours). Book your tour at the Tourist Service Centre in the Arrival Lobby of Terminal 1 and 2.
Rs 100 = 44 New Taiwan Dollar.
For details, visit: www.taoyuan-airport.com
Suvarnabhumi Airport (Bangkok)
Book the Bangkok Airport Layover Special: Best of Thailand in 4 Hours (from Rs 2,610 per person). The guide will meet you at Arrival hall, 2nd floor at Suvarnabhumi Airport or Terminal 1 at Don Muang Airport (Arrival Hall) and escort you to Bangkok City.
The 8-hour Bangkok Airport Layover Special starts at Rs 3,400. Bangkok by Night tour (4 hours) is for Rs 5,000 while 9-hour Private: Best of Bangkok in a Day priced at Rs 9,000 per person. Book ahead of time or visit the booking desk at the Arrivals Floor where Concourses C, D, and E intersect.
If you’d rather do sight-seeing yourself, metered taxis are located at Level 2 Arrivals, entrances 3-4, 7-8.You can opt for e-visa or visa on arrival (check waiver of visa on arrival fee).
Rs 100 = 43 Thai Baht.For details, visit:
www.bangkokairportonline.com.You can also book tours at www.viator.com