I have been to several international airports, and I must say I was totally impressed with the Terminal 3 of Beijing Capital International Airport. It is a huge and wonderful structure, full of light and space with strategically-placed posts that draw your eyes upwards. Walking under the humongous dome gave me a feeling of being under a star-filled sky.
Designed by British architectural firm Foster and Partners, the Terminal 3 is the second largest airport in the world, next only to Dubai. The architecture is amazing; I’ve seen the aerial photos before and had been impressed, but I was awed all the more when I had the chance to go inside.
The station for the Beijing Express is also inside. It serves not only Terminal 3 but Terminal 2 as well, and it goes into the city for around 20RMB. What fascinated me though, was the ancient celestial sphere built by Chinese astronomer Zhang Heng in 117 AD. It was a revolutionary invention, as it successfully showed the movement of the sun and the stars that became the basis for later studies in astronomy.
There is an indoor garden, too, and there were a lot of flowers especially near the train station. The flowers were quite colorful and abundant, and I was surprised, given that it was just the beginning of spring when I went there. When I came closer to the flowers, though, I realized that there was a very good reason why they looked so colorful from afar; they were made of plastic! (Hmm…why would you want to put plastic flowers in the airport, or anywhere at all, for that matter?)
I haven’t had the chance to check if the service here is as good as its appearance, although the Beijing Capital International Airport did win the “Best Airport in the World” accolade from the Condé Nast Traveler magazine in 2009. I just wish that our own Terminal 3 here in Manila would take a leaf out of Beijing’s book and improve not only its appearance, but its services as well!