7 Airport Terminals That Are Doing It Right

by  Lane Nieset | Sep 15, 2014
Airport security
Airport security / martince2/iStock

Airport terminals around the globe are stepping things up a notch with high-tech designs, indoor art museums, and speedier ways through passport control. Here are seven new(ish) airport terminals we love flying in and out of:

Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport: One of the world's largest airport terminals, the Emirates Terminal 3 has got everything you need for a layover, day or night. Relax with a spa treatment at one of the three spas in the terminal, chill out in one of two Zen gardens, or get a swanky room at the airport hotel, which offers 24-hour dining and a pool.

T2 at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport: Inspired by a dancing peacock, Mumbai's new airport terminal, which cost $2 billion, gives travelers an "introduction to Mumbai," as the airport puts it. While walking toward baggage claim, visitors will pass a series of more than 7,000 museum-worthy Indian pieces of art and artifacts lining the walkways on the multi-story Art Wall, lit up by skylights. The four-story terminal also has a green element, holding one of India's largest airport gardens.

Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX: This renovated terminal brings a taste of the city into the airport, with 360-degree views, a Pacific Ocean-inspired wave design, and interactive art installations galore. Having received LEED certification for sustainability, the terminal also has tons of shops and restaurants. You find popular L.A. boutiques Fred Segal and Kitsonas well as the largest airport beauty floor in the U.S. If you want to get fancy, grab a seat and a glass of bubbly at the Petrossian Caviar and Champagne Bar, or pick up a "caviar in the air" picnic pack of caviar, blinis, and crème fraîche for your flight.

Terminal 3 at Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport: Three years and $1.4 billion later, the futuristic new terminal in the Chinese city of Shenzhen, just north of Hong Kong, is an architectural wonder. Studio Fuksas' manta-ray design features a "tail" that doubles as the entrance to the honeycomb-wrapped white building. Swathed in natural light within, the airport even has its own solar power plant. Could it get much cooler than that?

JetBlue Terminal 5 at JFK: Simple pleasures like free Wi-Fi when traveling make the waiting period before boarding so much better. And while you're enjoying gratis surfing at the JetBlue terminal, you can also grab a bite to eat from one of the 36 spots serving food and drinks throughout the terminal. Options range from airport staples like Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks to local favorites like Dylan's Candy Bar and Baked by Melissa.

North Terminal at Miami International Airport: Terminal D is so large that the skytrain travels the mile-long-distance, dropping off passengers at four stations spread throughout the terminal. While the airport itself can be frustrating at times, especially when going through passport control and customs, the new three-level international arrivals facility -- finished just this year -- is smoothing things out for travelers arriving from Latin America and the Caribbean. There's now a 72-lane passport control hall that has 30 automated kiosks and 12 Global Entry kiosks, so hopefully wait times should be cut down significantly.

T3E at San Francisco International Airport: Want a zen moment before boarding? The new Terminal 3 Boarding Area East has everything from soothing natural light, coming in from its floor-to-ceiling windows, to the airport's second yoga room, complete with a star-studded ceiling. Travelers will also love the free Wi-Fi (yes!), water bottle filling stations, cozy Fritz Hansen egg chairs, and technology upgrades like Flight Deck "infotainment" touchscreen areas. And for those who leave souvenir shopping to the last minute, a new stores offers up local art from Bay area artists -- a breath of fresh air from the typical T-shirts and magnets.

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