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Saturday, 15 April 2017 17:09

Enjoy Layover Time With These Airport Activities Featured

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Seated in a beer garden sipping a brew that was made on-site, Sam and Nancy Goodman tap their feet to the beat of music emanating from a band on the stage. Art is the focus of attention for Paul and Elizabeth Cantor as they stroll past a collection that could be on display at a museum -- but isn't. Roger Hockman is equally focused as he fine-tunes his putting stroke on a compact practice green.

There's nothing unusual about these activities except where they're taking place. They are helping passengers to pass time at airports in Munich, Denver and Palm Beach, Florida.

Some airports around the world have evolved into more than just places where people gather to board a plane or exit after a flight. Seeking to make the flying experience as enjoyable and stress-free as possible, airports are offering a growing array of entertainment, dining and other facilities and services.

Take that beer garden at the airport in Munich, Germany. The aptly named Airbrau produces three kinds of beer, plus seasonal types, and diners have a good view of the process. The art scene at Denver International Airport includes works displayed outdoors, inside the terminal and even in tunnels through which trains pass carrying passengers to departure gates.

Hockman, an avid golfer, was pleased to find a putting green at the Palm Beach International Airport when he had time to kill between flights.

These welcome surprises are for starters. From animals to art, books to baking and much more, airports are offering things to do, see, eat and otherwise fill what could be dreary downtime with an imaginative array of choices.

Airports as museums is one growing trend. Not surprisingly, some collections focus on aircraft and flying. For example, historic planes and a rescue helicopter are parked outside the Munich Airport. A 1914 Curtiss Pusher Biplane is located in the Albuquerque International Airport. It has that name because the propeller is mounted in back of the aircraft and pushes itthrough the air.

Displays at Hong Kong International Airport appeal to a variety of interests. Recent exhibits highlighted popular architecture in Hong Kong and included a large paiper-mache dragon that was created for the 2016 Chinese New Year celebration.

If you've ever seen a fluffy white dog playing with a toy duck or a pig playing a toy piano, you've probably been in the San Francisco International Airport. They're members of the Wag Brigade, trained animals that roam the terminals doing what they can to make passengers' travel more enjoyable. The animals and their handlers are certified therapy teams. Wearing vests that say "Pet Me," the canines -- and a pig named LiLou -- usually don't have to walk far before someone pauses to make friends. One goal of the Wag Brigade is to keep children entertained. Other facilities and services also are aimed at youthful flyers.

The Kids' Spots at the San Francisco airport allow young travelers to gain knowledge while they use up excess energy prior to their flight. Interactive art and displays of weather elements provide interesting learning experiences.

The trend for airports to double as art galleries is increasing around the world. The collection in San Francisco contains more than 80 works that reflect the area's diverse cultures.

Art is interactive at Singapore's Changi Airport. People there may use provided paper and crayons to make rubbings of icons that were installed for that purpose.

Mother Nature's handiworks also are on view at airports. Also at Changi four themed gardens provide respite from the hustle and bustle of travel. A Sunflower Garden occupies a flat rooftop while an Orchid Garden displays more than 700 plants.

As people stroll through the Enchanted Garden, motion sensors trigger sounds of nature. Some 1,000 residents of the Butterfly Garden share their space with flowering plants, lush greenery and a 20-foot waterfall.

Attractions at airports also appeal to the taste buds. Ethnic and local specialties are among dining choices available at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago. During the annual "Ticket to Taste" event chefs prepare meals, present cooking demonstrations and offer free samples.

Passengers in Copenhagen Airport have a choice of "Nordic food." The Beer Garden menu at Munich Airport includes Bavarian favorites such as pork sausage, roast pork in beer sauce and, for those with a sweet tooth, apple strudel.

Eateries at Baltimore-Washington International Airport include an offshoot of the local favorite O'Brycki's, which touts "Crab cakes and more since 1944." The restaurant lives up to that claim, offering crab soup, crab salad, crab cakes, crab melt -- well you get the picture.

Even passengers who forgot to bring a book for their flight are in luck. They can borrow one at facilities in Seattle-Tacoma and Walla-Walla, Washington, and at Amsterdam Schipol Airport, among others.

Victor Block

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