As any frequent flyer knows, airports can be terrible and boring places. On long layovers, you’re often stuck for something to do. Surely, they should have movie theatres and bowling alleys in order to capitalize on all that dead time we spend in them?
In some cities, however, you may discover unexpected airport perks! We polled the aloSIM team, and here are six Canadian airports that have added attractions that make a welcome distraction when you’re in transit. From spa treatments and cute animals to insider tours and fresh lobster, here’s what we’ve rounded up …
Art, aquariums, and high tea at YVR
Vancouver International Airport has held the title of the best airport in North America for the past 10 years, and it’s easy to see why!
There’s beautiful First Nations art throughout the airport, as well as many pieces by local artists. The Vancouver Aquarium is worth a trip itself, but if you can’t make it they’ve set up an aquarium housing 20,000 marine plants and animals in the (with a smaller tank full of jellyfish too) as airport exhibits. At the Fairmont Vancouver Airport (located above the U.S. departures terminal) you can enjoy a few drinks at their plush bar, or take high tea complete with tiny sandwiches and pastries.
Lobster and local spirits at YHZ
Just before you go through security at Halifax Stanfield International Airport, there’s a lobster pound where you can buy live lobster to take with you (they package it up so you can have it as hand luggage), as well as a range of cooked lobster and other packaged local seafood products.
Once you’re through security, stop at Liquid Assets. It’s an indie liquor store that stocks local spirits, wines, and beer for some excellent boozy souvenirs. There’s an exciting craft beer and spirits scene in Nova Scotia and whatever you’re into, someone there is probably making it. Look out for great beers from Boxing Rock (and many other brewers), ciders from the Annapolis Valley, and a variety of gins from Ironworks Distillery.
Spa treatments at YUL
Luxury spa Balnea has three outlets dispersed about Montreal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (formerly Dorval). Forget those chair massages you see at airports everywhere, Balnea offers the real deal: proper facials, massages, and body treatments (if you have the time). Or you can indulge yourself with one of their express treatments designed for travelers on the go.
Pet a puppy at EIA
The pet therapy program at Edmonton International Airport was designed to calm nerves and spread cheer. There are more than 60 animals and their humans who volunteer as part of this program, and besides puppies you may also encounter therapy rabbits and cats roaming the terminals. Handlers carry collectible trading cards of the therapy pets, each giving the names and details of the animals. It’s an excellent way to keep children occupied during long layovers.
Go behind the scenes at YYZ
If you’re interested in knowing more about how airports work and you have a long layover at Toronto’s Lester B. Pearson International Airport, you might luck into an Airside Tour. The tours were paused when COVID-19 hit, but plane-lovers are hoping they resume soon so they can check out the fire hall, the air control tower, and other areas not usually available to the general public.
Sample beers from Canada’s first brewpub at YYJ
Victoria International Airport has an outpost of the fantastic local Spinnakers gastro brewpub (the first brewpub in Canada, which opened in 1984). There you can sample 12 of their beers on tap, and grab a bite from their inspired menu of locally sourced cuisine (with a number of to-go options that you can take on the plane with you).
Airports with added attractions like these make layovers a lot more tolerable, don’t they? Whether you’re learning something new, released a bit of travel-related stress, or simply making the time between flights pass more quickly, we hope you enjoyed these Canadian airport perks!