Killing Time in Congonhas Airport

By | Category: Travel destinations

Sao Paulo, Congonhas airport from the air

Sao Paulo, Congonhas airport from the air

Airport time is dead time. There’s nothing much to do other than wait and lose hours flying through time zones – or gain more depending on which direction round the earth you’re flying. But in the end, it’s all dead time. My time was lost flying to Brazil from Heathrow. If the 11 hours to Sao Paulo was not bad enough, spending eight hours in Congonhas airport waiting for the connection to Florianopolis could test anybody’s patience. But actually it’s not as bad as it sounds depending on how quickly your patience wears thin. There are probably worse flights around the world – and worse airports. So if you ever find yourself killing time in Congonhas airport – or any other airport for that matter, here are ten things you can do to make dead time for more alive.

1. Have a shoeshine

Young boys no older than 14 years-old hang around the airport sheepishly approaching people to ask for money. The problem they have is if they are caught “begging” security will eject them by their shell-like. So they carry a wooden step with them, together with a cloth and some shoe polish. If they ask you for money, ask for a shoeshine and they will be happy to oblige.

2. Eat

Eating is an obvious option as much as it is a necessity. But when food pictured on menus doesn’t look appetising you know you are in trouble. Since getting food poisoning from a display-case pizza in a Spanish airport, I’ve had a rule to avoid fast-food restaurants in tropically warm countries, though a hot croissant or toasted sandwich from one of the cafés might just be about edible. If you are prepared to spend a little more than a fiver the sushi bar has a small choice of dishes. Alternatively, try the Brazilian gourmet buffet from the upstairs restaurant. Open Monday to Friday 7am to 7pm.

3. Relax with a Beer

Congonhas airport has several bars serving Davassa, a local brew popular with Brazilian beer drinkers of which there are many. Served cold straight from the tap it’s just what you need to take the edge of the mid-afternoon humidity. Go to Frontier bar on the second floor and take in the views overlooking Sao Paulo.

Sao Paulo, Congonhas airport interior

Sao Paulo, Congonhas airport interior

4. Duty Free

Buy a gift for a beau, friend or family member from the gift shop. It’s only small but there is a relatively good selection of designer perfumes, bags and clothes. Be careful not to accept any unwrapped boxes straight from the shelf though – there’s nothing in them. Normal custom is to collect your purchase at the gate just before boarding.

5. Laselva Bookstore

The equivalent to W H Smith, the Laselva bookstore could be considered an ideal way to pass time browsing the shelves. The problem for most is the books are in Portuguese so you may be limited to just looking at the pictures. But don’t let that put you off, both men and woman, are very attractive. Also, there are several English print magazines such as Newsweek, The Economist, The International Herald, and, ahem, Penthouse.

6. Lounge Congonhas

For the majority of the year Brazil is stiflingly hot and the humidity can zap your strength – particularly during long-haul journeys. Located up the stairs in the above-mentioned Laselva bookstore, Lounge Congonhas is an oasis of cool, air-conditioned, comfortable and quiet; the perfect retreat to relax and read.

7. Beauty Salon

Smarten yourself up in the unisex, Bella Pimenta with a hair cut, manicure or pedicure. With three attendants available waiting is rarely an option and, though they don’t speak English, they are polite and friendly. Girls can get their nails painted in a variety of startling colours and men can have a shave.

8. Surf the Net

For R$18 (£4.50) you can do a two-hour stint on a speedy wi-fi. Catapult yourself back into the outside world and find out what has been happening whilst you were suspended in time on a plane. For a small fee you can also make phone calls and send faxes.

9. Go Shopping

Again a relatively obvious option and once you pass through airport control into the waiting area there is a smattering of shops around the periphery just begging you to go and take a look. Don’t be surprised when you are drawn to a particularly stylish, yet quaint jewellery shop, and even less surprised when your jaw hits the floor having done a mental conversion check on prices. You may have more luck in the toy shop, chocolate store, tie rack or surfers paradise selling wetsuits and ray-bans. Be warned however that shopping in Congonhas is generally expensive so you will want to be equipped with a credit card. Not so conspicuous and tucked round the corner is a young lady with a small cart-stall selling hand-made dresses that may be of interest to ladies with a penchant for frills.

10. Photograph Departing Planes

Planes come and go around every 10 minutes or so at Congonhas and the waiting room looks out along the runway. You’ll see a plane trundling left to right along the runway. That’s your indicator to get a good position by the window and prepare your camera. Gate 4 in front of the shopping area offers the best views to get a shot of the take-off.

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