Waiting for a flight is something we all dread, but these seven lesser-known airports know how to convert a ‘waiting’ period into a worthwhile and unforgettable experience. By Smrithi Suresh

1. Heydar Aliyev International Airport – Baku, Azerbaijan


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Whether you are planning to relax or shop before your flight, this airport in Baku, Azerbaijan has great options for each traveller — from luxury stores to cafes. Its major attraction is its bespoke architecture. In the passenger spaces, you can spot custom-made cocoons, covered in natural latticeworkcreated to provide comfort and privacy to passengers. You can also enjoy a spa treatment, rest at the lounge, or take a stroll near the cocoon. The airport is sure to please your sight with its lighting system, which is fixed in a way that it reflects on the furnishings to illuminate a soft colourful glow.

2. Denver International Airport – Denver, Colorado


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Denver International Airport, which was opened in 1995, has some of the most eye-turning apocalyptic murals, sculptures and artworks on display, leading to various theories about Illuminati and underground bunkers. However, the airport officials used to earlier deny these conspiracies but later adapted it as a marketing tool, in order to attract passengers. The airport is constructed with glowing tented roofs, which project a view similar to snow-clad mountains during the dayAs you wait for your flight here, you can try out the local cuisine in the restaurants or take a skywalk between Jeppesen Terminal and Concourse A to spot a giant blue horse structure with demonic eyes, also known as the Blue Mustang.

3. Kansai International Airport – Osaka, Japan


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Situated off the coast of Osaka Bay, iis considered to be the world’s first offshore airport built on a man-made islandWhile experts say that the structure suffers from two to four centimetres of gradual sinking every year, the airport is considered as a modern engineering marvel from the 90s. It has two terminals – While Terminal 1 provides space for multiple eateries and shopsTerminal 2 has passenger gates. The airport also has Sky Museum and an observation hall to help you take a close look at aircrafts.

4. Madeira Airport – Santa Cruz, Portugal

This airport in Portugal is also popularly known as Cristiano Ronaldo International AirportLocated between the rocky shorelines and the mountains, it is considered as one of the scariest airports in the world. However, lately, it has witnessed an increase in the number of passengers and demand for flights, which has, therefore, paved the way for a runway extension. Due to the lack of land space, the runway was earlier built on a platform, partly extending over the ocean with 180 columns for support. The terminals here are mostly built underground. If you have a connecting flight from Madeira Airport, make sure to enjoy the spectacular view of the Atlantic Ocean.

5. Gibraltar International Airport, UK


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Have you ever heard of a road crossing over with a runway? At Gibraltar Airport, you can walk across the runway to reach the Winston Churchill Avenue road, which is the only connecting road to Spain. The runway was laid during World War II by the British military to extend to the centre of Gibraltar. So, every time a flight departs or arrives, the roads are blocked with barriers and traffic lights to clear the runway. The airport is located very close to the Rock of Gibraltar and extends to the beautiful stretch of the Bay of Gibraltar. When you are at the airport, you can pause to observe the terrifying experience of take-offs.

6. Hamad International Airport – Doha, Qatar 


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One of the most luxurious airports in the worldHamad International Airport in Qatar, has a 100-room hotel, with a swimming pool, a squash court and a gym. There are also lounges and museums, and a wide-stretch of outlets resembling a shopping mall. Other attractions include its outstanding architecture, and a 23-feetall yellow teddy bear sculpture named Lamp Bear seated right at the centre of the duty-free hall. If this doesn’t define luxury then we don’t know what else does. 

7. Svalbard Airport – Longyear, Norway


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Svalbard Airport is the world’s northernmost airport with public scheduled flights. It was built during World War II, amidst the enchanting snow-capped mountains. The runways of this airport are built directly on the layer of ice, due to which insulations need to be added in order to keep them stable. As your flight is about to land, you can see snow encompassing the city. There is not much to do at the airport but if you are lucky, you might come across some polar bears as well. However, it is often feared that the runway is likely to melt faster in future, and if it happens the authorities will be left with no other option but to close it. 

Related: Undertourism: Travellers Are Ditching Popular Destinations For Lesser-Known Places