Just as Dubai is in the news for replacing airport security checkpoints with digital face-scanning fish, South Korea has snatched the spotlight with an outlandish transit story of its own.
Airports are in a constant contest to develop new ways to occupy your time. The competition is fierce to woo travellers with the prospect of butterfly gardens, yoga studios, golf courses, mini museums, and rooftop swimming pools – but if Incheon International Airport has its way, it will soon wear the crown for insane airport amenities.
The South Korean airport recently announced plans to open a 2,500-square-foot cosmetic surgery centre in its soon-to-be-completed transit terminal. The unusual undertaking is a response to the popularity of medical tourism in the country, which is growing at an astonishing rate thanks to promotion from the country’s official tourism board and government-approved medical travel agencies.
Incheon envisions the surgery centre as a way to attract more foreign patients, giving them access to South Korea’s stellar surgeons without needing to formally enter the country. Unfortunately for Incheon, everyone else views it as an outrageous liability.
The Incheon International Airport Corporation faced immediate backlash from the medical community. The Korean Association of Plastic Surgeons (KAPS) and the Korean Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons publicly condemned the plans, noting the potential dangers of flying immediately after going under the knife or needle. Other medical professionals expressed concern about patients making snap decisions on invasive procedures, complications that could lead to missed flights, subpar plane hygiene, and access to local hospitals.
To date, no doctors have expressed interest in using the space, despite applications being open since mid-September. Your layover brotox may be a pipe dream, but at least Singapore can rest easy knowing it will probably still have the world’s best airport next year.