Thank you to everyone who welcomed me to Dick's blog last month with your comments, if you missed it you can read how I introduced myself here.
We are now at that time of year when many people will be booking holidays, here are some tips for two regular airports for long haul layovers for those of us who enjoy a smoke.
If you travel to the west coast of America, it is possible you may stop at Newark airport along the way.
Newark airport. Ok, you cannot smoke anywhere in the airport. However, if you have a layover there and flying to Europe, the chances are that you will be going from terminal C. There are a couple of things to think about here. The first is duty free. If you are on a layover and get into terminal C, go buy the duty free before you do anything else. The beauty of this airport is that you buy the duty free and get a receipt. You will only get your goods at the gate when boarding so no need to worry about carrying it around with you. If you fly into terminal A, you can get a bus which will take you to terminal C, which again means you can take care of duty free before anything else.
OK, so you have duty free and you have a few hours to spare. You go out of departures to have a cigarette, cigar or whatever else takes your fancy. The first thing that will hit you is that there is nothing outside departures at Terminal C to entertain you. So, have your smoke then jump on the free airtrain (or walk, there are decent walkways and will help stretch the legs) and go to terminals A or B. my preference is Tony Romas at terminal A. You can have a drink, some food, then go have a cigarette after. In fact, on a four hour layover, I spoke to the staff and was able to pop out for a smoke between drinks!
It is also worth mentioning that although it may be publicised that you can only smoke outside Newark at one of the designated smoking areas, this is incorrect. Walk out the door and light up, everyone else does. There are also ashtrays everywhere outside.
On your return to terminal C, go upstairs, out of the doors and walk left. When you get to the end of the terminal, you will see steps on your left. This takes you to an outdoor smoking area with seats. It is also next to security and I usually find that one the quieter of the 3 security gates in that terminal. Note that the later it gets the quieter it is, but beware that they might also close some gates so make sure to ask if this might be the case to give yourself plenty of time to get to your flight.
If you are thinking of travelling to Australia, it is possible that you may have a stopover in Singapore.
The most important thing to remember about Singapore airport is that you are not allowed any ingoing duty free allowance on tobacco (you're also not allowed to bring chewing gum in either, it is banned!). They don't mess about either, please note that there is a large fine and prison sentence if you are caught smuggling tobacco in. This is not just with duty free, but even with those bought tax paid before you leave!
I had read you could buy duty free and pay the tax, however this is not the case. I tried to buy cigarettes once in Dubai and was refused as I was off to Singapore, even though I said I intended to declare them. Cigarettes in Singapore are S$12 per pack. However, on your way home you can get your duty free at around £15 for 200....go figure!
Note also that you can only take 50 cigarettes into Australia which is a new regulation. I have not seen it in other airports yet, but in Singapore you can buy 50 cigarettes (2x25 packs) especially for the purpose.
However, despite the country being one of the most vociferous against smoking, there are still various smoking rooms around the airport. Singapore has designated areas outside, usually one or the other end of this huge airport. People generally will not smoke out of these areas. Just get through to departures and you will find much nicer areas to smoke. Note too that dropping litter is a serious offence in Singapore. Do not take any chances.
In terminal 1 there is the Cactus Garden which is advertised as a beer garden and smoking area. This particular smoking area has been a source of amusement for me the past few years. There is a great bar and even outdoor air conditioning. However, you can no longer smoke at the bar or at the tables. There are other seats where you can freely take your drink and smoke, though. This results in quite an amusing scenario. Last time I was there, a lot of folks were taking advantage of what I call the 'cheap seats' where smoking is welcome, but only three people sat at the bar and none in the table area. Note that this is outdoors and there is only 3 yards at most separating the smoking and non smoking areas. It still makes me laugh. I remember when smoking was allowed at the bar and it was like a holiday resort - everyone sat at the bar chatting to strangers, having drinks, cigarettes and a good laugh. This is still the same experience, just moved a few yards away.
In terminal 2 there is Hari's Pub (don't confuse with Harry's bar, quite different). As you enter the bar, over to the right hand corner there is a small smoking room - yes, indoors! Order your drink at the bar and tell them you are going to the smoking room. Their waiter service will bring it for you and they will also come to you for further orders, you don't have to move a muscle. Simply pay at the bar on your way out. How very civilised.
As for hotel smoking rooms in Singapore or America. Yes, you can still get them - don't believe the hype! I manage to get quite a lot of smoking rooms. Check before booking the hotel and never assume, because of the country, that there is no chance of a smoking room. Places that would surprise you are the Waldorf and the Grand Hyatt in New York. Both have limited smoking rooms. Just don't book a Marriott in North America as they were the 'proud' pioneers of non smoking hotels. You can get smoking rooms with them in other parts of the world though.
I hope some of you might find this information useful, you can find my articles tagged as Bear Tripper on the right hand side. If you have any tips of your own, please add them to the comments. I will try to reply to as many as possible.