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Services at International Airports

Sure, international airports are known for the access they offer to locations around the world, but many offer so much more than that.

Here is a list of services offered by many international airports. Note that some services are basic and almost universal, while others will only be available in certain locations.

If travelers are interested in using a particular service, they should check the airport/s they plan to travel through to see if they offer that service.

Parking Options

Most international airports offer a wide variety of parking options.

These start with a simple drop off version. This is an area where people can drop off travelers who are leaving on a flight.

These areas do not allow people to store cars, but they do allow them to park long enough for the traveler to exit the vehicle and retrieve their baggage, too.

Many airports also offer both short-term and long-term parking.  

Short-term parking is usually paid by the hour. It is made for picking people up from the airport, though some travelers taking short trips use it so their vehicle is close when they get home.

Short-term parking is often more expensive than other options, but the vehicles are close and easy to get to.

Long-term parking is usually well away from the main part of the airport. These extensive lots are often open to the elements, though a few offer protection.

Travelers usually need to take a shuttle or a tram from the lot to the airport, then back again when they get home.

Many airports also have other companies that offer long-term parking nearby. These rates may or may not be better than parking at the airport itself.

These lots are usually even further out than airport long-term parking, but may offer features like additional security, covered parking, snow removal from cars, etc. 

Travelers can choose the best parking option for them based on their specific needs.

Flight Check-In

International airports always offer places where travelers can check in for their flights. These may be counters, electronic kiosks, or a combination of those two options.

Flight check-in is often the first thing that travelers will see when they enter the airport. They should find the check-in location for their particular airline.

Some airlines allow people to check in online. Travelers who have done this and who have an electronic or printed boarding pass in hand may be able to bypass check in entirely. 

However, the check-in location usually also handles baggage for the flight. Travelers planning to check bags will need to visit check-in even if they already have their tickets. 

The check-in counter can also answer questions about a flight, help travelers get transport around the airport, and more.

They can reschedule travelers with canceled flights, put travelers on a standby list, etc. However, many of these services can also be performed on the concourse, too.

Luggage Service

There are usually several different types of luggage service offered at international airports. Travelers may not need to take advantage of these, but they should know what is available.

The first kind of luggage service is porter service. This involves paying someone to transport bags from one location to another so that the traveler does not have to do so themselves. 

The second involves renting a luggage cart of some sort. This makes transportation of bags easier and is usually cheaper than a porter.

Luggage check-in is another service at international airports. Travelers should contact their individual airline for more information on this.

Finally, many airports offer something like a coat check, except for bags. Travelers can check their bag in, then retrieve it right before they get on their plane.

This helps them move around the concourse unencumbered.

Restrooms

Nearly all international airports offer restrooms. There are usually restrooms for males and separate facilities for females.

It is also becoming more common to have family restrooms, where travelers can close and lock a door and bring multiple children in with them at once.

Some airports now have non-gendered restrooms, too. These help serve transgendered and non-binary passengers.

Airports usually have high standards for cleanliness in their restrooms. If travelers find that a restroom is dirty, they should report it to any airport staff they can find.

Water Fountains

Airports also need to provide access to clean water. This usually comes in the form of water fountains and/or water bottle filling stations.

Travelers should make sure that a water fountain is clean and free of debris before they use it. They may also want to ensure that the water runs clear.

In some locations, the water that comes out of the fountains may not be clean enough to drink. In these situations, travelers can almost always purchase bottled water nearby.

Travelers who are concerned about water quality in an airport can bring a variety of filtration devices and/or tablets. However, there are usually other, safe ways to get clean water.

Medical Assistance

Sometimes, travelers need medical assistance while they are in an airport.

If they need assistance but it is not urgent, travelers can usually find the equivalent of a nurse’s office or a medical station somewhere in the airport.

Any airport employee should be able to give them direction and even help them get transport, if they need it.

The medical assistance at international airports varies widely depending on the airport. Some have fully-staffed urgent care centers, while others only have a nurse or an EMT on duty.

No matter what, though, travelers should be able to either get the care they need or get transported to a place where they can get care.

Many of these locations offer immunizations, walk-in clinic options, pharmacies, and more. A few airports even have dentists on hand!

Travelers who need emergency medical assistance should contact emergency services, covered below.

Emergency Services

International airports offer a wide variety of emergency services, from EMTs and paramedics to fire fighting staff and even police.

No matter what emergency occurs in an airport, there should be people there to help travelers out.

Travelers may need to find an internal phone (often red) and call or connect to an operator to get help. However, there are usually enough people around that someone else can do this.

A traveler who needs emergency help usually only needs to ask or scream and someone will come aid them. Airport staff can find the right emergency personnel for the particular situation. 

Restaurants and Food/Drink Service

International airports usually offer a wide variety of eating and drinking options. There are usually snacks that travelers can easily grab and sit-down dining options.

These options range from fast food to high-class dining, depending on what each traveler needs. In fact, sometimes people will visit an airport simply to experience dining there.

There are also a variety of drinks available. Travelers can purchase bottled water before their flight leaves, or they can get juice, soft drinks, iced tea, and more.

Many international airports also offer alcoholic beverages. These usually need to be finished in designated areas and cannot be carried around the airport or taken onto planes.

Convenience Stores

International airports usually have convenience stores available for travelers. Here, they can purchase everything from snacks to magazines to headphones and more.

These stores are a one-stop-shop for most of the items that travelers might want to have on the plane with them.

They are a great place to stop if travelers realize they left an important item at home. If it’s an essential that is usually used aboard aircraft, the convenience stores are likely to carry it. 

Many convenience stores will also offer merchandise featuring local places and attractions. If travelers need last-minute souvenirs, they can rely on these stores to carry them.

Supermarkets

Some international airports also offer basic supermarkets. These sell mostly food items, but offer a more extensive selection than travelers will find in convenience stores.

Travelers who want fresh produce or canned goods to eat aboard their flight should see if the airport they are flying out of has one of these supermarkets in the concourse. 

Sometimes, these supermarkets feature meals that are easy to cook at home or in any location with basic kitchen equipment.

These meals are designed for travelers who have just arrived at a destination or who are arriving home and want to cook for themselves, but haven’t gone shopping and won’t have time.

Hotels & Other Places to Rest

Many international airports feature hotels or other sleeping options. 

The hotels are great for people who have overnight layovers, or whose flights get canceled last-minute and who won’t be able to fly out until the next morning.

Many times, these intra-airport hotels have relationships with the airlines that serve the airport. If a flight is canceled, the hotel will put up stranded guests for a fraction of the usual cost.

Other airports feature other sleeping options. Some offer sleeping pods, where travelers can rent a narrow, private pod with a bed and a place to store their bags. 

These are perfect for travelers who only plan to sleep in the airport for a few hours, or who are traveling alone and on a budget.

A few airports also feature hostels, where travelers can pay a minimal fee to sleep in a bunk in a dorm-style space. This won’t work for everyone but it is exactly what some travelers want.

Transportation

International airports offer access to a variety of modes of transportation (not just airplanes!). Many are served by taxis, buses, shuttles, trains, and more.

Travelers will need to make sure that the airport they are flying into offers access to the type of transportation they are looking for. They should get a map so they know where to go.

Travelers should also make transportation reservations ahead of time, when this is relevant. Some rental car agencies, buses, and trains will require pre-booking.

Play Areas

Travelers with children will be glad to know that many international airports now offer play areas. These areas offer a safe space where kids can get rid of some energy before they fly.

Many times, these areas are located in a specific concourse or area. Travelers should locate the play area before they fly and make sure they know how to get to their gate.

They should also watch the time. Kids can take longer to move between locations than adults do, and a longer playtime is not worth missing a flight for!

Adventure Opportunities

Some international airports now offer adventure opportunities. These include roller coasters and other rides, casinos, movies, golf, gardens, water slides, swimming pools, and more.

Note that many airports do not have these amenities yet and others may not advertise them. Travelers can research the airports they plan to pass through online and plan accordingly.

Travelers should know that these activities usually cost money, and may be more expensive than similar activities in other locations. When they research, they should note the cost, too.

Breastfeeding Stations

Most airports offer breastfeeding or pumping stations.

Breastfeeding stations are places where nursing mothers can take their infants to feed them in a place that is secure, quiet, and private.

Pumping stations are places where women can pump breast milk to give to their babies later. These also offer privacy and peace. 

These locations may not be noted on a map or on signs. Travelers who want to utilize them should ask an airport employee for their location or research ahead of time to find it.

Customs & Immigration

International airports will always have customs and immigration offices. This is where international travelers pass through in order to enter the country. 

These can take up an extensive space or may be very small, depending on the size of the airport and the number of international travelers it processes.

Regardless of size, though, an airport cannot be an international airport without these offices on site.

Cloakroom/Coat Check Services

Travelers with bulky coats who don’t want to carry those with them should search out the cloakroom or coat check service. 

This service allows them to check in their coat, pass time in the airport, then retrieve their coat at their leisure, before they board their flight.

Note that, sometimes, coat check service is only available in certain terminals or locations, which may be quite a distance from some gates.

Business Services

Most international airports offer business services. This is a place where travelers can print documents, use a fax machine, make photocopies, and more.

Sometimes, these are offered by the individual airlines. Other times, they are offered by the airport.

Once again, these services may not be on maps or listed anywhere, because the airport doesn’t want them to be overwhelmed.

These services are mostly designed for travelers who need them due to a canceled or delayed flight, or who are planning to be at the airport for a while because they are flying standby.

Mobile Workstations & Services

International airports are developing the infrastructure to make mobile work easier. Most of them now offer wifi, though it may not be secure.

They also have charging stations for mobile devices. Some offer work tables or even work carrels, where travelers can complete tasks while waiting for their flight to take off.

A few international airports have shared workspaces, where travelers can pay a fee to access the area for the day. 

These often have better ambiance than concourses and may have food and beverages available, too.

Art Installations & Exhibits

Many international airports offer both permanent and rotating art displays. After all, what better way to make walking a concourse more enjoyable than to line it with local art?

Permanent installations are usually part of the structure itself. They may be murals, sculptures, and more, and they will always be at the airport for viewing pleasure.

Rotating displays will only be displayed for a certain amount of time. In fact, some people visit certain airports specifically to see pieces of art while they are displayed there.

Art adds class and interest to an airport, and makes it more than simply a utilitarian structure.

Tastings & Product Demos

In many locations, international airports are becoming hubs for food and beverage tastings, as well as product demos.

Technology companies often offer demos in their airport stores, particularly of technology that might be useful to travelers.

Food and beverage companies may offer informal tastings, where they hand a sample to passersby, or formal ones, where travelers hear a presentation and sample multiple times. 

People in an airport are a captive audience, and now they can learn something at the airport, too!

Gyms or Workout Spaces

Many airports now offer gyms or other workout options, right in the airport itself. These are for travelers who get stranded or who have long layovers between flights. 

Sometimes, these are on a pay-to-play basis, while others may be included with status on a particular airline or the purchase of lounge access for the day. 

Many gyms offer basic equipment for cardio and weight training. Other gyms may offer specific classes, like CrossFit, yoga, weightlifting, zumba, and more. 

Travelers interested in working out at the airport should find out how to access the kind of workout they want before they arrive.

Shopping

Many international airports offer extensive shopping. Shops can range from high-end luxury goods to duty free goods to goods from local artisans.

Shoppers who want to access a specific shopping experience should make sure it’s available at the airport they are traveling through before they get there.

They should also make sure that they have a way to transport anything they buy. Some stores in airports will handle shipping items, but many require the traveler to carry items with them.

Shopping at an airport can be a great way to purchase gifts for friends and family back home, without having to lug them around throughout an entire trip.

Duty free shopping offers access to high-end goods without paying extra taxes. Travelers who know what they want can find great deals at duty free stores. 

International airports offer so many amenities and services. Travelers can take advantage of them all and enjoy their trip even more than they would have before!

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