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

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

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?

    Can you have fun in an airport?

    Changi Airport's cinemas are free. Luckily.

    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.

    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.

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

    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