SPOT­LIGHT

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Insight - BY DE­BRA KAMIN

AIR­PORTS BEEF UP AMENI­TIES TO MAKE LAYOVERS MORE EN­JOY­ABLE

You’ve been in this sit­u­a­tion be­fore: Af­ter ar­riv­ing at Chicago O’Hare, or Dal­las/Fort Worth, or Bos­ton Lo­gan, your con­nect­ing flight is de­layed by sev­eral hours. Or maybe you have a long lay­over, and want to make bet­ter use of your down time. Sure, you could win­dow shop at Hud­son News, or nurse a venti soy latte at the con­course Star­bucks. But de­pend­ing on where you find your­self, you can now also get a quick work­out, take in some world-renowned art, or even grab a shower and 40 winks.

Air­ports in the United States – ea­ger to lure trav­el­ers as air­lines con­sol­i­date – are in­creas­ing ameni­ties to in­clude cul­ture, fit­ness and even the op­por­tu­nity to com­mune with a lit­tle na­ture. And since most trav­el­ers pass­ing through will shell out for at least a cup of cof­fee, many of these added ameni­ties are de­signed to in­flu­ence trav­el­ers to choose to fly, say, via Kennedy Air­port in­stead of Ne­wark, or into San Fran­cisco In­ter­na­tional rather than Oak­land.

“A lot of this is be­ing driven by rev­enue,” said Scott Mayerowitz, ex­ec­u­tive ed­i­to­rial ed­i­tor of travel news site The Points Guy. “If air­ports can in­crease sales even marginally, there’s mil­lions of dol­lars at stake.”

It’s a wel­come shift for do­mes­tic fly­ers, since when it comes to a de­lay or a long break be­tween flights in the United States, you’re gen­er­ally stuck in­side the air­port’s walls.

“Most of the ma­jor con­nect­ing air­ports in the U.S. are not near the city cen­ter, so it’s rarely go­ing to be worth your time to try to leave the air­port and go some­where,” Mayerowitz said. “So pas­sen­gers have a lot of time at the ter­mi­nal.”

The Points Guy re­cently crowned San Diego In­ter­na­tional Air­port the best in the United States in its an­nual rank­ing of Amer­i­can air­ports, not­ing both the am­ple ameni­ties like mul­ti­ple on-site craft brew­eries as well as the air­port’s prox­im­ity – a mere seven min­utes by car – to that city’s down­town.

And while Amer­ica’s Finest City may have Amer­ica’s Finest Air­port, at least ac­cord­ing to this sur­vey, there are perks on of­fer around the coun­try to make time fly – even as a grounded trav­eler.

WORK OUT: San Fran­cisco In­ter­na­tional made head­lines in 2012 when it opened the world’s first air­port yoga room. Since then, Dal­las/ Fort Worth, Mi­ami In­ter­na­tional, Chicago Mid­way, Chicago O’Hare, and Burlington In­ter­na­tional have also un­veiled serene spa­ces where you can take a down­ward dog while de­layed.

For a car­dio fix, a day pass to Roam Fit­ness at Bal­ti­more-Wash­ing­ton In­ter­na­tional costs $25 and in­cludes cloth­ing and shoe rental. At Chicago O’Hare, trav­el­ers can pur­chase a day pass to the health club at the on-site Hil­ton; the same strat­egy works in Detroit for the fit­ness stu­dio at the on­site Westin.

There are also well­marked in­door walk­ing trails at Phoenix Sky Har­bor; Min­neapo­lis-St. Paul; Cleve­land Hop­kins; and In­di­anapo­lis.

GET CUL­TURED: Art lovers might want to linger at Seat­tle-Ta­coma, where there’s a rich per­ma­nent col­lec­tion of more than 65 con­tem­po­rary pieces of art. At Las Ve­gas’ McCar­ren air­port, head past the slot ma­chines and into the on-site avi­a­tion mu­seum. Den­ver’s air­port boasts an ex­ten­sive public art col­lec­tion, while San Fran­cisco has both an avi­a­tion mu­seum as well as the ex­cel­lent SFO Mu­seum, with ro­tat­ing ex­hi­bi­tions of cul­ture and art.

GO GREEN: In 2011, Chicago O’Hare cre­ated the first air­port aero­ponic gar­den in the world, which pas­sen­gers can view from the lounge area. Chard, basil and beans are among the good things grown here, which are then sup­plied to many of the air­port restau­rants. At JetBlue’s Ter­mi­nal 5 at Kennedy, there’s a rooftop lounge with green space and a dog walk. And at Honolulu In­ter­na­tional, there are mul­ti­ple out­door gar­dens fea­tur­ing bam­boo trees, bridges and koi.

TAKE A NAP: When all else fails, sleep it off. In At­lanta, Bal­ti­more, Dal­las, Char­lotte and Philadel­phia, tired trav­el­ers can check into the Minute Suites, which can be rented for $42 an hour. These pri­vate rooms are sound­proofed and of­fer so­fas that con­vert into beds. Many also have pri­vate show­ers.

At Wash­ing­ton Dulles, a cap­sule room at the mi­cro-ho­tel Sleep­box starts at $25 an hour. And at Kennedy’s Ter­mi­nal 5, thriftier trav­el­ers can try to catch some shut-eye in one of the four free JetNap En­ergy Pods.

IF AIR­PORTS CAN IN­CREASE SALES EVEN MARGINALLY, THERE’S MIL­LIONS OF DOL­LARS AT STAKE. Scott Mayerowitz, of travel news site The Points Guy

San Fran­cisco In­ter­na­tional Air­port via NYT

The San Fran­cisco air­port has a li­brary and avi­a­tion mu­seum, free to the public, in its in­ter­na­tional ter­mi­nal.

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