Sometimes, the airport just has to be a home away from home.
There are delays and cancellations to contend with, layovers to navigate, and, well, there are those of us paranoid about missing a flight who would rather arrive at the gate area three hours early.
What’s to keep us from going batty?
Food. Shopping. Entertainment. Personal well-being stations.
“It’s no longer just about getting travelers from Point A to Point B as efficiently as possible; it’s about making the airport experience enjoyable,” Rick Garlick, global travel and hospitality practice lead at J.D. Power, said in a statement. J.D. Power does an annual survey of airport satisfaction.
In the end, it all makes for a better passenger experience and some airports do it better than others. In fact, according to our own TravelPulse survey seeking the best and worst U.S. airports, Atlanta-Hartsfield and Denver International do it as well as anybody.
“Atlanta is a huge airport, but it has a great variety of stores and restaurants, plenty to keep you busy during layovers,” said one survey respondent.
It goes beyond that, of course.
Atlanta also has Minute Suites, which offers travelers what is akin to a private retreat to work, sleep and in some cases even take a shower. You can rent them for an hour, three hours, or even overnight.
Denver came in just two points behind Atlanta, and in addition to the array of food and entertainment it offers something unique – pet therapy. Travelers nervous about flying can visit with dogs at the airport as part of the Canine Airport Therapy Squad, ironically referred to as C.A.T.S.
Denver also is one of several airports offering massages.
Charlotte came in third in the amenities category.
”Most often I'm going through the airports on a layover, and barely have time to get from one flight to the next,” another respondent wrote. “However, I truly did enjoy Charlotte and the ease of getting around. It provided me plenty of time to stop in some of the fantastic shops they have to offer.”
After Charlotte there was a four-way tie after that between Minneapolis-St. Paul, Seattle, Chicago-O’Hare and San Francisco.
“Sea-Tac has a nail salon, which is so fantastic!” one respondent said.
San Francisco was actually one of the first airports to incorporate yoga into its airport offerings, opening a 150-square-foot yoga room in Terminal 2. In addition to the 24-hour complimentary yoga room, passengers can also chill out in the airport’s reflection room. And they can even get a massage, a mani- or pedicure, and a facial.
Some airports have indeed come a long way.