Skip to main content

Cinemas in airports: Nice, but would you use them?

By James Durston, CNN
July 4, 2013 -- Updated 0937 GMT (1737 HKT)
This might make a good airport wish list entry, but would it work in reality?
This might make a good airport wish list entry, but would it work in reality?
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Nearly half of those surveyed say they would like a cinema in airports
  • But where airport cinemas already exist, few people reportedly use them
  • Hong Kong International Airport's IMAX cinema is the biggest in the city

(CNN) -- A new poll this week claims the thing people most want to see in an airport is a cinema.

Not automated, super-fast security checks, not complimentary Michelin-star dining options, not even Star Trek-style transporters to your destination (presumably those questioned could have chosen anything?).

No, it seems people are resigned to the fact that airports must be endured rather than enjoyed, and a good movie is the most we can even wish for, let alone expect.

Kudos to Hong Kong, Seoul and Singapore, which all have cinemas in their international airports already.

Flight comparison site Skyscanner asked 10,000 people what they would most like to see in an airport. Responses ranged "from a gym to a beach," the site said.

Nearly half chose cinemas as their top airport wish, followed by "sleep pods" (36%) and a library (32%). Other items included a park, a pool and a "vanity area."

But who has time for all these activities?

Changi Airport\'s cinemas are free. Luckily.
Changi Airport's cinemas are free. Luckily.

Can you have fun in an airport?

Aren't airports most often sites of flustered, sweaty travelers rushing between gates, or tense mothers squawking at their children to "sit still!" or irate latecomers having melt downs?

Perhaps these enjoyable amenities would make us all arrive earlier and feel happier.

No doubt frequent flyers spending several hours each month wondering what to do between Dallas/Fort Worth and Heathrow would appreciate the distraction.

Hong Kong International Airport was the first airport to have an IMAX cinema within. It's a behemoth 358-seater with a 22-meter-high screen.

But despite being open to the general public, not just fliers, up to 40% of the audience are airport and airline staff, says Kathe Lin, deputy marketing manager at UA Cinema Circuit, which operates the IMAX in Hong Kong.

And anecdotal evidence from travelers suggests the place is rarely full, or even close to it.

Singapore's Changi airport has two cinemas, only accessible to passengers, but they are relatively modest at 13 seats and 55 seats.

Hong Kong Airport\'s IMAX: Big, beautiful, but how popular?
Hong Kong Airport's IMAX: Big, beautiful, but how popular?

Korea's Incheon International Airport was built with a specific audience in mind: "We opened a theater at the airport to target the massive number of hallyu (Korean Wave) fans who come to the airport," says a CGV Theaters representative.

These include local residents as well as international travelers who flock to see their favorite K-Pop artists and Korean movie stars as they travel through the airport.

CGV is catering to an eager crowd, but the spokesperson admits days are usually pretty quiet.

Do we want what we say we want?

The evidence seems to suggest that despite the professed wishes of cinema-deprived travelers, where airport cinemas exist already, people aren't really that bothered.

Figure in the amount of space a cinema takes up, the logistics, the cost, the maintenance and other bits and pieces that go into managing the space, and it's probably just as well most airports concentrate on other things.

What do you think? Would you use an airport cinema if you had the time? Tell us below

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 2042 GMT (0442 HKT)
From Maastricht to Melbourne, these itineraries make bookish travelers look stylish.
July 29, 2014 -- Updated 0858 GMT (1658 HKT)
Good cocktails combine with spectacular views across rivers, cityscapes and oceans at these bird-level drinkeries.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1809 GMT (0209 HKT)
A California homeowner's nightmare has become a cautionary tale for those who rent their homes to strangers.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 0226 GMT (1026 HKT)
Cinema loves portraying the lives of expats. Sometimes it gets it right. Sometimes it casts Nick Nolte as a jungle king.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 0117 GMT (0917 HKT)
Don't be intimidated, says a local expert. Here's how to do China without the hassles
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1233 GMT (2033 HKT)
When your city has an unenviable reputation for insulting tourists and fleecing them for every cent, inviting hotel guests to pay what they want could be a risky move.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 0710 GMT (1510 HKT)
1937 Auto Union V16 Streamliner, Audi Museum, Germany
With factory tours and collections of stunning vintage prototypes, southern Germany is petrolhead paradise.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1344 GMT (2144 HKT)
Every tourist destination has a flip side, a season when prices go down and savvy, flexible travelers can score big savings.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 0711 GMT (1511 HKT)
A Marrakech lamp bazaar
Morocco's Red City is crammed with stunning gardens, shaded souks and steamy bath houses.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1652 GMT (0052 HKT)
Santo Stefano Island, Italy
Pristine beaches, unspoiled nature and few tourists -- a stretch on these former penal colonies is no longer a punishment.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 0923 GMT (1723 HKT)
Life in Joburg can be stressful. Luckily there are some exceedingly non-stressful places close by.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 0907 GMT (1707 HKT)
Istanbul skyline
CNN's Ivan Watson pays homage to the city he's called home for the past 12 years.
China notches up another superlative achievement as a Nanjing-based artist creates the world's largest and longest anamorphic painting.
July 20, 2014 -- Updated 2002 GMT (0402 HKT)
In what is undoubtedly the world's "coolest" surf video, photographer Chris Burkhard endures freezing temperatures, blizzards and injury to capture Arctic waves and their riders.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 0339 GMT (1139 HKT)
Few airline routes are as cutthroat as the one that travels between London and New York. It is the world's busiest route and there are few lengths airlines won't go to in the hopes of getting a piece of the action.
ADVERTISEMENT