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Killing Time In US Airports
By Lynne Christen

The news is filled with travel stories of flight delays and cancellations stranding travelers in airports for hours, sometimes days. Even when flights are on time, long layovers are common, especially when traveling internationally. If you shudder at the thought of being stuck in the airport, take heart.  Major airports have come a long way in recent years when it comes to food and fun for their captive guests.  Use these tips from a veteran flight attendant to make the most of airport hours.

Do your homework before being stranded.

Check out both domestic and international airport guides at www.worldtravelguide.net/ airport. Both www.airwise.com/airports and www.azworldairports.com also offer airport guides. Individual airport websites typically feature maps, indexes and special events calendars.

Go exploring.

Choose carry-on bags that are tugged along easily or a backpack that leaves hands free.  Airport lockers, once banned following the terrorist threats of 2001, are making a comeback in the U.S. and abroad. Smarte Carte has installed new bio metric identity lockers post-security in Las Vegas (LAS), Portland (PDX) and Minneapolis/St Paul (MSP) airports and storage facilities are planned for other major airports.

Treat yourself to a massage or manicure.

International airports led the way with pampering options; but, spa services are a growing trend in major U.S. airports. Baltimore-Washington International, Boston Logan International, Chicago O’Hare and Denver International are examples of U.S. airports with on-site spa services. 

Escape the maddening crowds.

Airline VIP lounges offer soothing respites from crowded gate areas and amenities like complimentary cocktails, snacks, large-screen television, personal flight assistance and a wide range of newspapers and magazines.  Although annual memberships typically exceed $400, many airlines offer day passes ranging from $25-$50.

Work off travel stress.

For a list of fitness facilities in or near airports visit www.airportgyms.com and airport websites.   Take the kids for their own workout at airport playgrounds like Kidports at Boston Logan International or Kids on the Fly at O’Hare International.

Artwork is becoming an integral part of interior design at U.S. airports.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International features more than 300 pieces of art ranging from paintings to sculptures throughout the airport. Phoenix Sky Harbor International boasts 500 art offerings.

Catch up on business.

Staffed business centers in many airports feature notary, fax, and copier services. Fire up the laptop with free Wi-Fi or head for airport Internet kiosks.  Data ports are available in virtually every airport.

Create your own entertainment.

Rent a personal DVD player and view a favorite movie from www.inmotionpictures.com, located in dozens of U.S. airports.  Tune out the world with your favorite music on an MP3 player and delve into the latest hot novel and trendy magazines.

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