Long associated with downtime, airports are entering a new era, becoming friendlier, brighter and more alive. These six examples are so much more than just places to pass through.
Text: Javier Correa @javiercorream | illustrations: María Paz Lama
Traditional German cuisine, live music and the world’s only airport beer hall are just some of the things that make Airbraü Brauhaus the perfect place to while away the time between flights. Rain or shine, the covered, chestnut tree-laden beer garden always offers the right atmosphere for sharing Bavarian delicacies.
The breakfast menu includes options like veal sausage, Bavarian meat pie and ham and eggs. Special dinner menus are also offered on certain nights of the week. Monday is Schnitzel Day: the Classic Cutlet plate includes fries and salad. And don’t leave without trying the classic FliegerQuell beer. You can even take a guided tour of the brewery, where the beer is still made in accordance with the 1516 Reinheitsgebot purity decree mandated by Wilhelm IV, Duke of Bavaria, using only hops from the region of Hallertau.
Open daily, 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. Franz Josef Strauss International Airport, Munich, Germany.
Terminal 1, Level 3.
Named one of the world’s ten best airport restaurants at the 2012 FAB Awards of The Moodie Report (the first time a Latin American establishment was so honored), La Bonbonniere first opened in 1953 as a French bakery in a swanky Lima neighborhood. In the past decade, it was taken on by caterer Marisa Guiulfo and her son, Coque Ossio, who added Peruvian and international cuisine to the menu. The change coincided with two key factors: the local culinary boom and the recognition of Jorge Chávez International as the top airport in South America.
The most popular dishes include lomo saltado (beef stir-fry with tomato, bell pepper, onion and French fries), French onion soup, truffle focaccia and shrimp fettuccini with yellow chili pepper sauce. Don’t miss the cebiche mixto or the delightful pisco sour.
Open 24 hours, every day. Jorge Chávez International Airport, Callao, Peru. International Boarding Area, Gate 21.
In the heart of Vancouver International Airport, a huge, 114,000-liter tank is home to more than 8,000 animals native to British Columbia, and another 1,800-liter aquarium displays 12 jellyfish from the Pacific Ocean. Both unexpected and incredible, these free exhibits come courtesy of the Vancouver Aquarium.
The primary aquarium contains 21 different species of fish, as well as wolf eels, coral, sea urchins and eight types of starfish, but the main attraction is a collection of ten species of rock fish, the most venomous type of fish in the world. Silent and deadly, yet timid, they camouflage themselves among the reefs.
Open 24 hours, every day. Vancouver International Airport, Vancouver, Canada.
International Terminal, Levels 3 & 4.
Dominated by best sellers and local authors, the selection of books found at airports can be somewhat lacking, and that’s why Powell’s Books at Portland International Airport is an essential destination. This airport bookstore also stocks an eclectic mix of fiction and non-fiction, as well as games, toys and gifts.
In addition, this Powell’s Books location buys and sells used books, a feature that’s so unusual in an airport that it’s like something out of Portlandia. It’s a great option for extended stays: in a day or two, the store’s buyer will let you know if you should come back for the books or a payout.
Open daily, 6:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Portland International Airport, Portland, Oregon, USA.
Oregon Market, Explanade C & D.
One of the many restaurants overseen by famed chef Gordon Ramsay, Plane Food specializes in traditional British fare, served quickly but without sacrificing quality. It’s exactly the sort of thing you’ve seen on Hell’s Kitchen or Kitchen Nightmares, two of the Scottish chef’s most addictive television shows.
The express menu, for instance, is organized by the time it takes to serve the meal: the 25-minute version includes two courses, while the 35-minute variation features three. There’s even a take-away option called “Plane Food Picnics” – a lunchbox containing three dishes that lets you dine on your flight. It’s an experience fully integrated into airport life and infused with Ramsay’s restless spirit.
Open daily, 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Heathrow International Airport, London, England. Terminal 5, Departures Area.
Chile is famous for the quality and diversity of its wines and an impressive wine industry that continues to grow. Nonetheless, a wine bar showcasing high-quality local wines only recently opened in Santiago’s international airport.
Vinium Chile features 30 national selections and specializes in Reserva, Gran Reserva and sparkling wines, available by the glass or bottle. The sommeliers are happy to explain the history and mission statement behind every glass of wine. With a menu that changes every three months, Vinum Chile aspires to reflect the local wine culture. Recommended: the platter of mixed cold cuts, with Waygu beef jerky, prosciutto, sausage and salami, accompanied with a glass of the iconic Silencio wine from Cono Sur, a prestigious Cabernet Sauvignon known around the world.
Open daily, 10:30 a.m. to midnight. Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport, Santiago, Chile. International Boarding Area, Level 3, Gate 12.