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How to kill time during an airport layover?

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So, I’m looking at a 4-hour layover in the Frankfurt airport in early June. Which leads me to wonder: how best should I fill those hours? Perhaps an airport spa?

I’ve been noticing these spas cropping up – a small O2 spa in Calgary’s airport; one in Zurich; and now I see that Frankfurt has 2 spas from this interesting chain called “be relax” (I’m trying hard to not “be judgmental” about the bad grammar used in “be relax.”)

The prices also prevent me from “be(ing) relax.” Are these good value? I’m not sure.

The “Be Back” chair massage, covering back, neck, legs isn’t too bad – a 30 minute massage is 29 euros. “Description : The massage chair: enjoy the moment on our fully customizable massage chairs. Listen to the music of your choice, wear a sleep mask. Let go…and you’re ready to fly!!”

Sounds promising.

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But I’m especially intrigued by the “Be Feet” legs and feet massage (although I keep reading “Big Feet” every time I see this, and that evokes an unrelaxed response. So, I have big feet. Is that a crime? Will they charge more per square inch of foot surface?)

Anyway, the Big Feet massage is pricier – 30 minutes runs 52 euros, or about $70Cdn. Yikes – that’s roughly double the price I’d pay at a local spa. Still, the description is, um, seductive. “Our classic service: The bare foot massage with soothing oils. Experience the ultimate treat for your feet based on reflexology principles that will delight all those who wish to pleasure themselves of a moment of intense relaxation.”

Now, how bad could this be? I’d likely fill at least an hour, maybe more (and maybe “be relax” would have a nice locker room where guests could change, maybe "tidy up" after a long flight – that would "be nice." And now, I'll stop with all the quotations marks, which can "be irritating.")

I realize a four-hour airport layover isn’t that long. And indeed, this is a pretty happy problem to have (happier than having big feet.)

My flight from Canada will arrive in Frankfurt at 6:30 a.m. and I’ll leave again about 10:30 -- for Rome! So, this will not be any real hardship. And I really prefer to have some extra padding in terms of flight connections.

I find few things as nerve-wracking as a tight connection, where you’re sitting for half the flight, gnawing your fingernails, worried about missing your connection. A few years ago, I had a long and stressful flight to Edmonton. We were due to land at 10:30 p.m., and I’d have just enough time to pick up a rental car from an outlet that closed at 11 p.m. I really needed that car for the 2-hour drive through rural Alberta to reach my family’s home. Naturally, the flight left 90 minutes late and I worried the entire trip that the rental car agency would close before I got there. Amazingly, the National agent waited there until I picked up my car sometime after midnight.

But that sort of thing makes me uncomfortable.

The price I pay for my caution is somewhat long layovers. Now, four hours really isn’t bad, especially in European airports. I find them kind of fun, even exotic (I am Canadian, most things are exotic to me) and therefore, I can run out the clock to a certain degree, just looking at shops, enjoying good coffee and small portions in their airport restaurants.

However, I’m too efficient for my own good and after about two hours of eating, drinking, window-shopping, I get bored. And very, very tired after the overseas flight.

Any opinions on airport spas? Waste of money, waste of time or a relaxing experience?

Comments (12)

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Sandra, another very entertaining post. :) I love your accompanying graphics too. I don't blame you for worrying about making connections and/or appointments. That can very stressful. I tend to side with a longer stayover rather than stressing on making a short connection as well myself.

I think the Be Back chair massage sounds good but make sure someone wakes you up before your flight in case you get too relaxed and doze off. I nearly missed my connecting flight in Frankfurt in 2008, because I dozed off in one of those long curvy chairs. :) They started announcing my name. I was very embarrassed.

Hope you are enjoying your trip planning.

So amusing. I have always been tempted by these treatments during layovers but have never given in to the temptation. However, each time I say, "I WILL next time".

June, with only May inbetween, seems close all of a sudden. I love the feeling of coming out of winter.

Happy planning!

I've noticed these things too. I was tempted to go into one last year but ended up deciding to save the money for something else. I think it would be worth the splurge though in certain circumstances.

I am the same as you...I'd rather have a long layover than be frantically rushing from one terminal to another. Too stressful!

sandrac:

Kathy, that would be a bit startling, to hear the airline paging you -- but at least they woke you up! Unfortunately, that wouldn't happen to me -- I'm not a good sleeper and have never been able to doze off in a public place, even on very long flights, I'm bolt upright, wide awake and all too aware of everything around me. Alas. It would be wonderful to be able to sleep a little.

Hello Mary, I'm beginning to get very excited about June coming up. As you say, it's so close, only May in between us now!

I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who has been tempted by these spa services. I wouldn't ever get a manicure or pedicure, because the risk of infection is so high if their tools are not scrupulously clean. That wouldn't be a concern with a massage, but I'm still trying to decide if it would be worth the cost.

Annie, you're right, there are so many other things that I could spend that money on. Maybe I'll just decide on the spot, depending on how badly I ache after the flight!

Kathryn:

Last time we connected through the Frankfurt airport, we had to walk about 1km turn around, go through security and walk the 1km back. I don't remember anything else. Have fun!

These reflexology spas were quite popular in SE Asia but I never tried them. I kinda regret it since it wasn't that much money in Asia. I wouldn't try it for that cost. I usually like to relax and have something to eat. I know... airport food sometimes isn't any better than airline food. I also like to walk a bit.

If I know the city and there is easy transportation - I have gone into the city for a walk.

Greatly entertaining post!

Oh-I like the challenge of dashing through foreign airports - pleading with others in the customs lines so one can make a tight connection:-)

Last time I was in Hawaii I opted for an hour-long lomi-lomi (Hawaiian massage using elbows and forearms) from a lomi-lomi expert, and I still dream about this soothing and relaxing feeling. I'd definitely go for the foot massage, but not sure about someone touching my neck or my back unless I was sure they knew what they were doing.

sandrac:

Hi Kathryn, you really can a lot of exercise in a large airport! Which is welcome after a long flight (so long as you have time between connections.)

Marta, I, too, like to stretch my legs a fair bit after being cooped up for about 8 hours on the flight. That will probably be more relaxing than a foot massage!

Thanks menehune -- I feel the same way about back and neck work. Very delicate areas. I wouldn't want to let a stranger start working on those areas, especially at the beginning of a long trip!

When I fly to Italy, I have a 6 hour layover in Newark. I now have the usual spots I go to - Bon Appetit for a cranberry cream cheese turnover, the technology type store (forget the name) to check up the latest gadgets, a few bookstores, etc. It keeps me busy. I am always so afraid I will fall asleep if I stop and sit too long.

I have heard good things about reflexology. It sounds expensive though. I probably would save my money and use it in Italy.

I always go for the longer connection, even when making train reservations. I agree that the stress is not worth it when dealing with short connections.

sandrac:

Hi Girasoli, yeah, I'm thinking now that I won't want to waste the money on a foot massage, even if it does break up the layover a bit. I do like exploring airports and haven't yet stopped in Frankfurt, so I'll likely just wander.

But six hours in Newark, yikes! That's painful. I wonder if there are any internet cafes -- that's a guaranteed way to pass a few hours fairly painlessly!

I just saw tonight when checking on a flight that a friend of mine who has already had to deal with the volcanic ash (canceling or postponing her trip to Rome while in England visiting her daughter) may now be stuck in Frankfurt heading back to Hawaii! Hope it is a good airport to keep her occupied! She is NOT a traveler and is not an internet person. Not sure what is happening and she does not check email, etc. so I am sure the flight change was a surprise to her (forcing her to miss her connecting flight).

sandrac:

Girasoli, I wonder how long your friend might be stuck at the Frankfurt airport? I've actually been looking into how much time I would need if I wanted to leave the airport and go into Frankfurt's city centre!

The consensus seems to be that 4 hours isn't quite enough (which is the length of my layover.) But if she has a longer period than that, maybe it would be worth her while to take the train downtown and visit an art gallery or an outdoor market. At least she won't be jet-lagged at that point, if she's returning from London.

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