The travel experts from My Baggage have collated a list of the world’s most remarkable airports that are a destination in themselves, even though passengers normally pass straight through them.
An ideal airport has plenty of space, endless flat ground, great visibility, and the best traveler amenities.
But spots in the real world are rarely ideal, so some runways are on steep hills and others have roads cutting through them.
There is no blueprint to build an airport and each one has its own quirks, from indoor water parks in Singapore, to steeply sloping runways in the French Alps.
A spokesperson at My Baggage said: “Usually when we travel, the airport is just a means to get to the main attraction. But we think these bizarre places to land are a destination in themselves – especially seeing as we can’t go anywhere currently. Whether it’s because of location, the land it is built on or other features, we found the most unusual places to kickstart a trip.”
1. Kansai International Airport - Osaka, Japan
Built on a manmade base, this airport is three miles offshore due to a lack of spare land in Japan. Work on the two-and-a-half-mile artificial island started in 1987 and less than seven years later, jumbo jets were touching down. Travelers can get from the airport to the island of Honshu by driving, taking a train or a ferry.
2. Don Mueang International Airport - Bangkok, Thailand
At first glance, this international airport looks like any other…. but sitting in the middle of its two parallel runways is an 18-hole golf course. The space was originally an all-military operation owned by the Royal Thai Air Force and whilst the airport has since opened to commercial traffic, the Kantarat Golf Course is no longer publicly accessible because of security issues.
3. Courchevel International Airport – France
When tourists visit France, they know they will experience incredible history, architecture and culture. Known for iconic ski resorts in the area, this airport is a popular landing place for snow-loving tourists. Skiers will arrive already on the slopes, as the 1700-foot runway is on a hill 6000 feet above sea level in the Alps. Built in the 1960’s, the tarmac dips downhill at one end and is recognizable for its star appearance in "Tomorrow Never Dies", the James Bond film.
4. Barra Airport – Scotland
Since opening in the 1930’s, planes landing off Scotland’s west coast at Barra have touched down on sand. The makeshift runway uses poles to separate the three beach-based landing strips and passengers can only arrive when the tide is out. Despite this, the airport boasts a modern control tower which is responsible for handling more than 1000 flights per year. When the tide is back in, the beach is enjoyed by windsurfers and clam diggers.
5. Gibraltar International Airport – Gibraltar
Situated between Morocco and Spain, the tiny British territory got an airport during World War II. Winston Churchill Avenue, one of the islands busiest roads, intersects through the airport’s main runway. It causes a headache daily for drivers having to wait at the rail track style level-crossing every time a plane lands or departs and puts constraints on operations at the airport.
6. Singapore Changi Airport – Singapore
The four terminals in Changi Airport are connected by Jewel Changi, a ten-story fun-filled hub. Lots of green spaces allow travelers to unwind and stretch their legs after a long flight and be mesmerized by the 40-metre-high indoor waterfall surrounded by thousands of trees. The entertainment center houses the island’s biggest water slide, cinemas, video games, soft play areas and over 100 eateries to keep families busy for hours.