Laid-back layovers

These are not those stops where we look for ways to kill time. These places are being transformed to hand an experience to the traveller, writes Sudha Subramanian

Jaya He Museum, Mumbai

Many years ago, when I entered the airport for the first time in Bengaluru, I remember seeing dull walls and creaky doors. There were no restaurants or coffee shops.  It was just a small concrete building with a runway. Over time, though, the space has evolved.

Airports, world over are no longer the place where you alight from a flight or wait to get into one.  These are not those stops where we look for ways to kill time. These places are being transformed to hand an experience to the traveller — even if it is just for a short time. Today, apart from the usual duty-free shops and a variety of restaurants, there are specialised areas for relaxation and entertainment. Think gym, spa, gardens, concerts, hotels or even a museum — they are all possible in a place where flights are meant to just land and take off.

Recently, on my way to Dubai, I discovered that my flight from Delhi was delayed. I was left with more than six hours to kill. The Delhi International Airport is a sprawling place and with my flight many hours away, I decided to don my walking shoes to reach my target quota of “steps” for the day. As I walked from one end to the other, I was in for not one but many surprises.  

The airport has a spa with many package deals that include a foot massage, body massage or even a bit of beauty treatment. But, what I loved the most was the hotel — after the security check. Here, you can book yourself in for the night or for a few hours.  And the best part? You can check out just 15 minutes before boarding. They are open 24/7 and have comfortable beds with a nice shower attached. Stretch yourself, catch a few winks before long gruelling flights.  There are also sleeping pods available that are more or less like a room. You can book for a family or a single/double occupancy. They come with TV and wifi too. But then, airports in India have seen a sea of change. If you are wondering what I am talking about, you should download the Mumbai T2 App. This is an app for the T2 terminal of the Mumbai International Airport. With this app, you can experience augmented reality, where you can see with your phone camera, navigate through the airport, get flight updates and also browse through all the shops.

While Mumbai also has a hotel inside the terminal, what is special about this airport is its beautiful museum. Yes, a museum.  It is called the Jaya He Museum with 5,500 artefacts by 100 odd artists and more than 1,000 artisans. This is spread over 3.2 km and has three sections.

The first section is a wall called ‘Thresholds of India’ which basically directs passengers through the terminal.

The second section is in the arrivals area and the third is near the baggage collection area. The whole museum reflects the multicultural essence and the rich heritage that is India.


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