Five Cures For Terminal Boredom

A long layover is most travelers' worst nightmare. Here are some airports that could -- almost -- serve as destinations

FRANKFURT

PROFLIGHT FLIGHT SIMULATOR

The life-size simulators at Frankfurt (and at Berlin and Bremen) are identical to the ones used by Lufthansa pilots. For a steep fee of 325 euros for a three-hour session, a ProFlight instructor will first brief you on aerodynamic principles and the cockpit's controls before firing up the simulator. The hydraulics can simulate bumps on the taxiway or severe turbulence. Taxi, take off, fly for a while and land, then collect your pilot wings and run to catch your flight.

SINGAPORE CHANGI INTERNATIONAL

The POOL AT TERMINAL 1

Buy yourself a swimsuit in duty free if you haven't packed one and slip into the open-air rooftop pool just above the gates and tarmac. Nine dollars buys you the use of a locker, a towel, and a poolside chaise, where the bartender will deliver rounds of Singapore slings. The only sounds are the peaceful lapping of the water and the whine of jet engines idling below.

ABU DHABI INTERNATIONAL

AL GHAZAL GOLF CLUB

In a way, the entire 18-hole course is a sand trap. There are "browns" instead of greens, made of treated, compacted sand, and the real hazards are the burrows dug by "dhubs," the local variety of desert lizards. The clubhouse could have been airlifted from St. Andrews, with its cozy sofas and leather club chairs. A round costs $33 on weekends, $28 during the week.

SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL

THE AVIATION LIBRARY & LOUIS A. TURPEN AVIATION MUSEUM

Tucked inside the new international terminal on the near side of the security gates, the free museum is showing an exhibit of Pan Am memorabilia, while upstairs the rare-book library featuring vintage aviation manuals is one of the largest of its kind. The room itself is the real draw--it's a 90% scale model of the airport's original Spanish Mission-style passenger terminal, built in 1937. Today's airport terminals also display fine pieces of art. Rupert Garcia's Bird Technology, made of hand-painted ceramic tile, can be seen in Boarding Area G.

NEW YORK JFK

THE AIRPORT CHAPELS OF TERMINAL 4

In case you need a Mass or a marriage ceremony before your flight, JFK has been home to Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish chapels for more than 40 years. Our Lady Of The Skies and Christ For The World Chapel host regular services for a smattering of travelers and congregants from neighbhooring Queens, the International Synagogue is a popular haven for El Al passengers. Muslims travelers often stop to pray in a multi-denominational space just a few doors away.

By Greg Lindsay

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