11 Weird and Wonderful Things You’ll Find in Airports

Airports don’t have to be boring pit-stops before getting to your destination.

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Updated May 28, 2024
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All around the world, airports are including some unexpected features these days. There are elements and decor that might seem a bit odd if you're seeing them for the first time, but they are great additions to help make layovers or delayed flights a little less annoying.

If you're spending your hard-earned money on traveling, why not enjoy the added bonus of weird and wonderful things you’ll find in airports?

A therapy pig

Courtesy of San Francisco International Airport Pig in costume

San Francisco International Airport already has its own yoga room, but it also has its own therapy pig. LiLou the pig is part of the Wag Brigade — she’s there to help passengers relax and stay calm while waiting for their plane.

The world’s first airport therapy pig, LiLou wears a flight cap and plays a tiny piano. She has other costumes as well.

On-site brewery

Courtesy of Munich Airport Brewery inside Munich Airport

Many airports offer spaces for relaxation, some even have gyms. Do they have an on-site brewery though? Munich Airport does. 

Originally founded in 1999, Airbrau has three brews on draft all year, plus rotating seasonal ones. There are also brewery tours available, in case your layover gives you enough time.

Pro tip: Traveling to airports that don't have their own breweries? Be sure to read about the best airport lounges. And use one of the best travel credit cards to pay for the expenses.

A history lesson

Courtesy of Hartsfield-Jackson Airport Atlanta airport history art exhibitons

Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport is the busiest airport in the world, with more than 100 million people traveling through it each year. It also has several art exhibitions set up between its terminals. 

Travelers who decide to walk between Terminals B and C can catch Gary Moss' “A Walk Through Atlanta History.” Stretching more than 400 feet, the permanent exhibit uses multimedia to trace the city's origins to its growth, and the role it played during the Civil Rights Movement. 

The installation is on both sides of the hallway, so traveling both ways down the connecting path can let you catch the full scale of the exhibition. Getting a vital history lesson like this isn’t weird, but it’s certainly unexpectedly wonderful to see at an airport.

Neon guitar bus stop

Courtesy of Austin Bergstrom Airport Austin airport guitar shaped bus stop

Austin is known for being “weird” and you could call the guitar-shaped bus shelter outside the Austin–Bergstrom International Airport a bit strange. The neon blue bus stop structure covers multiple benches, while the “neck” of the guitar juts out, casting neon light around waiting travelers.

Live music

Courtesy of flymsy.com Jazz stage in New Orleans airport

New Orleans has a lot to offer as a city to live in or visit, beyond Mardi Gras. The city has a reputation for its live music scene, and travelers at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans Airport can get a touch of that as well.

The Jazz Garden Stage next to the baggage claim in the arrivals area plays host to local musicians. Catch a NOLA brass band, some jazz, or other performances while waiting to see if that suitcase is yours or someone else's.

Futuristic escalators

Courtesy of Gilles Erhmann via Paul-Andreu.com Charles de Gaulle airport escalators

Escalators at airports aren't unusual, but usually, they're lined up and parallel, without crisscrossing. That's not the case at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. 

Inside Terminal 1, there is a large open atrium with multiple tubes of escalators operating above ground. They connect passengers to the terminal's third, fourth, and fifth floors. Glass walls and ceilings in the tubes let riders look down, around, and into other routes.

If by some chance these tubes look familiar, they were on the cover of an Alan Parsons Project album.

Controversial art

Courtesy of Denver International Airport Denver Airport wall mural

Denver International Airport is home to some wild conspiracy theories thanks to the public art exhibitions. The hallways in the terminals are filled with murals, and there is a light installation in the underground rail system.

The bright and beautiful pieces are very thought-provoking and some feel they have messages that range from mass extinction to peace and harmony. One of the murals, the iconic “Children of the World Dream Peace,” is in storage during the construction period.

Magic tricks

Courtesy of seatac.stqry.app Airport magic show

The Seattle-Tacoma International Airport isn't the only airport to have some art. It might be the only one to have a magical illusion as part of its exhibitions. 

If you're walking by Concourse D, look for High Wire, a 180-foot depiction of a vaudevillian magician. Artist Michael Fajans' 11-panel piece is designed in such a way that it creates a “magic trick” no matter which direction people are walking by it.

Cultural gardens

Courtesy of Honolulu International Airport Airport garden in Hawaii

Flying is in part sitting in a crowded tube through the sky breathing some recycled air. Sometimes you need to see some plants and get some fresh oxygen. 

The Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu, Hawaii, has three nature gardens — a Hawaiian, Chinese, and Japanese nature paradise, each with its own plant life. All are linked by waterways and have plenty of benches to sit and enjoy the green space.

Indie movie theater

Courtesy of Mark Shimahara Movie theater in Portland airport

If you've flown on a plane for more than an hour, chances are you've watched a movie on the flight. What about inside the airport? 

Portland's airport has its own movie theater — complete with a flashy marquee — that's free and open to travelers around the clock.

The theater screens a series of short films made by local filmmakers, so it might be one of the only chances you have to see these movies. The only catch is that there are only 17 seats, so there's a chance a screening might be full.

Giant flamingo

Courtesy of Tampa International Airport Giant flamingo statue in airport

You're probably familiar with the many flamingos in Florida. Do you know about the giant fake flamingo in the Tampa International Airport? It was installed earlier this year, standing 21 feet in the airport's central terminal. 

The installation isn’t fully complete and will be set up to make travelers feel as if they’re underwater, with a faux waterline on the ceiling.

Bottom line

JenkoAtaman/Adobe young woman goes at airport at window with suitcase waiting for plane

These wild and wonderful things prove that airports aren’t all boring. Being able to check out any of these attractions helps pass the time if you have hours to spare between connecting flights. 

You're already spending your hard-earned money on trips. The ability to take in some art, see a movie, enjoy a local beer, or be in nature is a treat anytime but feels especially great when traveling (and all before you reach your destination).

If you’re heading to any one of these airports, you may even want to bake some time in to catch these sights.

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Nicholas Slayton

Nicholas Slayton is a journalist and editor based in Los Angeles. His writing can be found at The Daily Beast, Paste Magazine, Architectural Digest, Shelterforce, and other outlets.