HONG KONG, March 4 — Bored of waiting around at airports? How about catching a 3D movie, on a screen that’s as big as the plane you’re about to board?
Later this year, that’ll become a possibility, with Hong Kong International Airport set to become the first airport in the world to offer weary travellers a chance to rest in front of an IMAX cinema screen.
The screen, set to open within the next few months, will allow travellers to watch movies in a traditional IMAX theatre, which offers an ‘immersive’ cinema experience because of the height of the screen and proximity to the audience.
According to the airport, the new screen will open in Terminal 2 and will be able to accommodate 358 audience members, watching either 2D or 3D films.
As airport entertainment goes, it’s likely to be a winner for Hong Kong International, already considered by many to be among the world’s best travel experiences.
It is, however, a competitive market out there — SKYTRAX’s evaluation of the world’s best airports put number one Hong Kong above rivals Changi (Singapore) and Incheon (South Korea) last year, but in 2010 it trailed its contemporaries in third place — officials will be hoping that new services help it to hold top spot when the 2012 results are released later this year.
For decades, many planners and authorities just considered airports little more than waiting rooms and screening areas, preferring to provide the bare minimum in terms of comfort and entertainment in a bid to maximise revenue through handling as many aircraft as possible.
With security wait times longer than ever and an explosion in hub-based travel which requires layovers, all of that is gradually changing, resulting in the sort of airports that would have been unthinkable just a decade ago — witness the sleep pods in Dubai International, for instance, or the museum and libraries at Schiphol.
At Seoul’s Incheon airport, travellers can unwind in a spa, hit an ice skating rink or even play a round of golf, while Changi Airport has embraced open-air gardens for passengers to wander in, along with a Balinese-themed rooftop swimming pool.
Interestingly enough, Changi also offers movie theatres in two of its terminals, with free-of-charge films playing around the clock — faced with some serious IMAX competition, it will be interesting to see whether an upgrade is in the pipeline. — AFP/Relaxnews