Design the Perfect Airport

As I sit here at Gate 22 in Terminal 2 of JFK, I’m thinking about what would make an airport experience as pleasant as possible.  Between layovers and the inevitable early arrivals (after all, you never know if security will take two minutes or two hours) most people who travel semi-frequently spend a good deal of time sitting at the gate, waiting.

I’m thinking about the ideal airport because right now, I’m enjoying something that I think should be standard at every airport–a single seater booth with two outlets for your electrnoics, free wifi, and–if you didn’t bring your own–an iPad at every station.  I am not making this up.  Please see the photo at the top of this post, taken with my iPhone while it was still plugged into the outlet.

This is not a special little area reserved for the few people able to snag one–every single seating area has outlets, a desk area, and an iPad. It doesn’t really take up any more room than a standard waiting room seat, but it enables people to get work done, play Words with Friends, or watch Netflix.  It’s actually quiet in here.  Wild.

So this got me thinking–if I could design my own airport terminal, what would I include?  That is, aside from awesome little booths like this one.  Based on things I’ve seen in airports–and things I wish I’d seen but never or rarely have seen–here’s my shortlist:

A place to buy quality food. In London’s Gatwick Airport, there’s a Marks and Spencer (which, for those of you who don’t know, is by American standards a really nice gourmet grocery).  I was able to buy a bottle of wine, quinoa salad, and chocolate mousse.  That beats the heck out of the dry, likely days-old sub I just had for lunch at JFK.

A gym.  Yes, a gym.  The worst part about long travel days is all of the sitting.  After spending a long time getting to the airport–or between two long flights–wouldn’t it be nice to get some exercise?  And maybe even a shower?  I’d gladly give up room in my carry on for sneakers and sweats if I could spend a two hour layover on an ellipical rather than spending yet more time sitting on my ass.  And I’d also gladly pay for the privledge.

A Reasonable Hotel.  Again, Lodon’s Gatwick got something right.  The Yotel concept–tiny pod-style ‘hotel rooms’ that can be rented by the hour (with a minium of 4 hours I believe) are the single best airport concept I’ve ever seen.  Perfect for early morning flights or extra long layovers, they offer a cheap (ish) place to recline, nap, enjoy some crappy television, and if you’d like, shower in the in-room shower compartment. Thanks to Gatwick’s Yotel, I arrived in NYC refreshed after a super early morning flight out of London.

So there you have it–my short list of ‘things airports need to have’.  It would be a longer list, but honestly many airports have been stepping up to the challenge and providing things–like this charging station I’m  currently sitting at–that would have made the top of my list a few years ago.  Thanks airport market research people!  What would be on your list? Please share in the comments section below!



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