Airports can be much more than just where you go to board your flight; they are bustling hubs of services and amenities designed to cater to the needs of all types of travelers.
From parking and transportation to shopping and dining options, lounges and relaxation areas, and more, airports offer a wide range of services.
Table of Contents
- 1 Parking and Transportation
- 2 Baggage Services and Storage
- 3 Food and Drink Options
- 4 Retail and Duty-Free Shopping
- 5 Lounges and Relaxation Areas
- 6 Accessibility Services
- 7 Business and Conference Facilities
- 8 Information and Customer Service Desks
- 9 Wi-Fi and Charging Stations
- 10 Family and Child-Friendly Services
- 11 Pet Services
Parking and Transportation
Convenient and efficient parking and transportation are essential aspects of air travel.
You have several parking and transportation options to choose from for how to get to the airport.
Airports offer on-site parking, including both short-term and long-term parking facilities, with varying rates, locations, security measures, and availability.
If you’re thinking about parking at the airport, make sure that you consider factors such as your travel needs, duration, and budget.
Keep in mind that pre-booking is often your best bet to guarantee availability, and booking in advance may come with discounts or promotions, too.
Off-site parking is another viable option, including parking lots or garages, especially as it will almost always be a more cost-effective alternative to on-site parking.
Be sure to research not only the cost of parking, but also your options to get to the airport once you have parked, as well as security measures.
We recommend researching reputable off-site parking options, reading customer reviews, and comparing prices to find the best deal.
Even valet parking is an option whereby you drop off your vehicle at a designated location, and the valet staff will park it for you.
Valet parking will typically be a more expensive option, but it can be worth it for its convenience.
Be sure to check for valet service hours and locations, ensure proper documentation for your vehicle, and securely store valuables before handing over your keys.
Airport shuttle services, either provided by airports or private companies, can be a great option, especially for larger groups traveling together, as they are very cost-effective and convenient.
Shuttles typically have designated routes, schedules, rates, pick-up/drop-off locations, and accessibility options, but you should be able to find a service that works for you.
Taxis and rideshare services like Uber or Lyft are available at most airports, providing quick and convenient transportation options
Typically, taxis and rideshare services have designated pick-up/drop-off locations and rates, and are a very popular option due to their ease of use, though definitely won’t be the cheapest option.
Many airports are well-connected to public transportation, such as buses, trains, or trams, offering you a cost-effective option.
The only thing we will say is to be careful when using public transportation services; if you’re in an unfamiliar city, late at night, it might be worth paying more for a different transportation option.
Otherwise, be sure to research the public transportation options available at the airport, including routes, schedules, fares, and accessibility options – preferably in advance.
Baggage Services and Storage
Dealing with luggage at the airport can be a hassle, especially if your luggage is heavy, you are traveling with special items, such as sporting equipment or musical instruments, or have a long layover and don’t want to lug around your luggage while you explore the city.
At the airport, you can expect to find several baggage services to make your life easier.
Baggage services include:
- Baggage wrapping – so you can wrap your luggage in a protective film to safeguard it from damage
- Baggage carts – to conveniently transport your luggage around the airport
- Baggage scales – for weighing luggage to ensure your baggage meets the airline’s weight requirements, so you can avoid additional fees.
If you would like to temporarily store your luggage during a layover, so you can explore the city before your flight or for any other reason, you may be able to store your luggage at the airport.
Baggage storage facilities typically have different sized lockers or storage units to accommodate various types of luggage, and provide a safe and secure place to store your luggage for a few hours or even days.
Food and Drink Options
Depending on the size of the airport, you may have a wide array of food and beverage options to choose from, or just a few.
For dining options, in the best case scenario, such as in the biggest airports in the world, you will be able to choose from quick bites, cafes, and eateries to sometimes even fine dining experiences.
When it comes to drinking options, you will often be able to choose from coffee shops, juice bars, craft beer pubs, wine bars, or even buying something from one of the duty-free shops.
Either way, if you want to grab a bite to eat or something to drink before your flight, you will be able to.
Retail and Duty-Free Shopping
Whether you need to buy a souvenir for your friends and family, or are looking to buy something for yourself, airports provide a wide range of retail and duty-free shopping options.
Airports have come a long way since their inception, boasting an extensive range of retail shops, including:
- Luxury Brands: Many airports feature high-end luxury brands, giving you the opportunity to shop for premium fashion, accessories, cosmetics, and more.
- Travel Essentials: If you forgot to pack certain essentials, you should be able to find them at the airport. These items may include travel-sized toiletries, electronics, travel accessories, and more.
- Souvenirs and Gifts: If you need to buy a souvenir or gift for your family and friends, the airport will have you covered. From local crafts to artwork and food, you will be able to find something that makes it clear that you just traveled from your destination. You are also allowed to bring wrapped gifts on a plane.
- Fashion and Apparel: Many airports feature popular fashion brands, giving you the option to buy clothing, footwear, and accessories.
Arguably the best thing about airports is the opportunity to do some duty-free shopping.
If you’re unsure what duty-free at airports is, in short, it is the shops where travelers can enjoy tax-free prices on various products.
These products may include:
- Alcohol and Tobacco: Spirits, wines, beers, cigars, and cigarettes
- Fragrances and Cosmetics: Fragrances, cosmetics, and skincare products from popular brands
- Electronics and Gadgets: Smartphones, tablets, cameras, headphones, and more
- Confectionery and Gourmet Foods: Confectionery, chocolates, gourmet foods, local delicacies
One of the things that what makes an airport international, is its duty-free shopping.
Lounges and Relaxation Areas
Airports are inevitably busy and bustling places, with travelers rushing to catch flights, navigating security checks, and dealing with the stress of travel.
But amidst the hustle and bustle, airports offer places to unwind and relax, with many amenities and services to take advantage of.
They can often be warm and cozy, as airports can be cold.
Amenities and Services
- Comfortable Seating: From plush chairs and sofas to workstations, there are seating options for everyone, whether you want to relax or get some work done.
- Charging Stations and Wi-Fi: If your phone has ever died on a flight, or you forgot to buy data for your destination, you wouldn’t be the first. Thankfully, lounges have charging stations and free Wi-Fi.
- Showers and Restrooms: Some lounges are equipped with showers and restrooms, so you can freshen up during those layovers or long flights. Note that it’s always a good idea to shower after your flight.
- Food and Beverage Options: Lounges often provide a range of complimentary food and beverage options, including snacks, hot and cold beverages, and sometimes even full meals.
- Additional Services: If you’re lucky, you might find yourself in an airport lounge that features spa treatments, massage chairs, business facilities, and even nap pods.
So whether you have a long layover, are facing a delay, or simply want to relax before your flight, it’s often worth paying to take advantage of one of the lounges or relaxation areas.
Accessing Lounges and Relaxation Areas
Access to lounges and relaxation areas can vary depending on the airport, airline, and your status or membership.
- Airline Status and Class of Travel: If you have elite status, or are flying business or first class, you will have access to lounges.
- Membership Programs: Several airlines and independent lounge operators offer membership programs that provide access to their lounges at various airports worldwide. These memberships may require an annual fee or a fee per visit.
- Day Passes and Paid Access: If you do not have airline status or lounge membership, you’ll be pleased to hear that some lounges offer day passes or paid access options.
Accessibility is a crucial aspect of travel, and airports around the world are thankfully committed to being inclusive for all travelers, including those with disabilities or special needs.
Accessibility services include:
- Terminal Accessibility: Terminals feature ramps, elevators, wide corridors, and designated accessible parking spaces close to the terminal entrance. Airports may also provide signage with braille and large print for travelers with visual impairments, and auditory announcements or visual displays for travelers with hearing impairments.
- Assistance Services: Assistance services include wheelchair assistance, service animal support, special boarding assistance, as well as personal assistance when it comes to check in, security screening, and navigation through the airport. Note that you should tip wheelchair attendants if you need assistance.
- Facilities: Facilities include accessible restrooms with wider doors, and grab bars, as well as changing rooms. Some airports may also include sensory rooms, and visual and tactile information.
Business and Conference Facilities
With business travelers typically making up approximately 12% of all flyers, it’s inevitable that airports have recognized the need to provide business and conference facilities.
These facilities give business flyers the chance to conduct business meetings, catch up on work, or connect with colleagues and clients.
- Meeting Rooms: Many airports offer meeting rooms that can be rented by the hour or for longer durations, and are equipped with modern amenities, such as audiovisual equipment, conference call capabilities, and comfortable seating arrangements
- Workstations and Business Centers: So business flyers can catch up on work or hold impromptu meetings, airports may provide workstations and business centers, complete with power outlets, internet access, printing/scanning services, and office supplies.
- Lounge Facilities: Even if there is no dedicated business and conference room, lounge access will often provide dedicated workspaces, with amenities including high-speed Wi-Fi, charging stations, and ergonomic seating.
Information and Customer Service Desks
Navigating through an airport can be a daunting task, especially if you have never been to the airport before and are therefore unfamiliar with the layout or processes.
This is where Information and Customer Service Desks come in, providing assistance and resolving queries related to flights, baggage, transportation, security procedures, and other airport-related services.
It’s easy to spot Information and Customer Service Desks because they are strategically located at prominent points within the terminal
Wi-Fi and Charging Stations
Today, having access to the internet and staying connected to others is non-negotiable for travelers, which is why airports do their best to provide reliable Wi-Fi and convenient charging stations.
Many airports offer free Wi-Fi access throughout their terminals, which is much appreciated by travelers who may not have access to mobile data or want to avoid expensive roaming charges.
Additionally, some airports also offer premium Wi-Fi options if you’re looking for faster internet speeds or need to perform bandwidth-intensive tasks such as streaming videos.
With the increasing reliance on smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other electronic devices, keeping your devices charged is a must before, during, and after those long flights and layovers.
While it can vary depending on the airport, charging options include traditional power outlets, USB ports, and wireless charging stations.
They can be found at different parts of the airport, such as gate areas, waiting lounges, and seating areas.
Just keep in mind that it might not be safe to using an airport’s charging ports.
Family and Child-Friendly Services
Traveling with children can be stressful, which is why airports offer a range of family and child-friendly services to make flying more convenient, enjoyable, and stress-free.
These services may include amenities such as designated family security lanes, stroller-friendly pathways, family restrooms, and nursing rooms for breastfeeding.
Child-friendly facilities such as play areas, children’s lounges may also be present.
Additionally, airports offer family-friendly dining options, such as kid-friendly menus, high chairs, and family seating areas in restaurants.
Airports provide services that are designed to cater to the needs of travelers who wish to bring their pets along, including pet relief areas, and pet-friendly amenities.
Pet relief areas are designated areas in the airport that allow pets to stretch their legs, and relieve themselves in a safe and hygienic environment. These areas are typically equipped with waste disposal stations, cleaning supplies, and designated walking paths.
Some airports even provide pet care services such as grooming, boarding, and veterinary services.
Additionally, airports also provide information and assistance to pet owners about all the necessary travel regulations and requirements you must follow when flying with a pet.
This may include guidance on pet documentation, vaccinations, and airline-specific policies.
Ella Dunham, a Freelance Travel Journalist and Marketing Manager, boasts an impressive career spanning eight years in the travel and tourism sectors.
Honored as one of "30 Under 30" by TTG Media (the world’s very first weekly travel trade newspaper), a "Tour Operator Travel Guru" and "Legend Award" winner, Ella is also a Fellow of the Institute of Travel, a Member of the Association of Women Travel Executives, has completed over 250 travel modules, and hosts travel-focused segments on national radio shows where she provides insights on travel regulations and destinations.
Ella has visited over 40 countries (with 10 more planned this year).