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Airport 2000: Terminal Improvement

10 Things We Like Most at Airports Around the World

  • ART Who says airports can't transport the mind, too?San Francisco International (650/652-2772) leads the way in exhibitions, with up to 14 shows at a time. Up now: Art Deco cocktail shakers, the history of platform shoes, and African barbershop signs.
  • FOOD The lunch counters at Caviar House (44-181/745-8785), with locations in all four Heathrow terminals, serve up seven types of caviar, as well as oysters, lobster, and Bollinger champagne.
  • RESTAURANT Designed by Walt Disney Imagineering, Los Angeles International's $3.5 million Encounter Restaurant (310/215-5151) draws hipsters to its retro-futuristic glow-in-the-dark dining room (it's in that Jetsons-style building in the middle of the airport).
  • EXERCISE For $8, passengers can work out at the Miami International Airport Hotel (800/327-1276 or 305/871-4100)-- there's a swimming pool, stationary bikes, Nautilus equipment, a Jacuzzi, locker rooms, showers, and, for $8 more per hour, racquetball courts.
  • KIDS A 2,205-square-foot learning and play space developed by the Chicago Children's Museum, O'Hare's Kids on the Fly (Terminal 2; 312/527-1000) is more fun than running up and down airplane aisles. It has a mock cargo plane to climb in, a build-your-own-Chicago Lego area, and a "fantasy helicopter."
  • BUSINESS The business center at Amsterdam's Schiphol (31-20/653-2480; $20 per hour) supplies a fix for productivity junkies: private offices come with a computer with Internet access and E-mail (for an extra fee), a phone, a fax-- even a skylight and mini-bar.
  • DESIGN A new wing has been added to Terminal 2 at Paris's Charles de Gaulle, and its glass-walled Jetways and tubular concourses have the thrillingly bizarre feel of some enfant terrible's design-school thesis-- and it actually works.
  • SHOPPING With 60,000 secondhand books and 5,000 magazines spread out over some 3,200 square feet, the Renaissance Book Shop (800/672-6657 or 414/747-4526), on the upper shopping level at Milwaukee's General Mitchell International Airport, redefines "airplane book." It's the perfect pre-connection distraction.
  • RECREATION Hiking trails in the jungle adjacent to Kuala Lumpur's new international airport at Sepang give passengers a chance to stretch their legs and get some air.
  • HEALTH Have your teeth cleaned or see a sports-medicine specialist at the Melbourne Airport Medical/Dental Centre (61-3/9335-2848). The center offers standard consultations for $18 and can provide emergency and referral services around the clock.

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