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Airlines, airports trying to minimize holiday stress in small ways

Do you hate airports as much as I do?

It’s a combination of the smells, the temperature (freezing), the bad food, the uncomfortable chairs and the germs that are part of the reason for my dislike. The other part is the airlines and their lack of communication, but that is the subject of another post.

Now that we are well into the holiday travel season, you should be aware that there are a few things some airports are doing to help with the dislike and the stress that comes with travel.

While at the airport, I have been known to look at my husband and say “Why don’t more airports have massage or mani/pedi places like in JFK? Or how about gyms? Better yet, why not a simple little play place for kids to run off their energy before getting on a plane?” Some may read this and think there is no need for these but those are the lucky few that have not been stuck for HOURS because of layovers, cancelled flights or delays!

Not all of my ideas have been turned into reality but here are a few things that airports and airlines are doing to help with the travel stress.

Zen rooms are popping up. These are smaller yoga or mediation rooms where you can relax, unwind and maybe even get in a small workout. Granted, you may have to pay a pretty penny to enter these areas but I think it is a great idea for those business travelers that do not always have a chance to get to the gym at home.

There is now, at least until the end of the year, a security checkpoint lounge at the Dalls-Fort Worth airport. Springhill Suites by Marriott and TSA have teamed up to bring this to fliers. Something similar has been set up in Terminal 4 at Sky Harbor in Phoenix. You can sit, relax and charge your devices, which is very handy. Now all they need to do is serve refreshments!

Even dogs are getting in on the act. Los Angeles International and San Jose International are using therapy dogs to help calm nerves. The dogs walk around the airports seeking pats and giving love. It has been scientifically proven that pets can raise your spirits and bring smiles to your face and now the airports/airlines are tapping into this bright idea.

When it comes to food, you are often stuck with bar food, fast food or pre-packaged food. Whatever it is, it’s often not as healthy and flavorful as you would like.

Now, according to the Huffington Post, 76 percent of airports offer healthier dishes that are cholesterol-free and reduced fat. This may not affect your casual travelers but it is good news for those frequent business travelers.

Speaking of frequent travelers, have you ever gone into one of the airlines “lounges?” I was shocked to learn that you could not bring food in these and they do not serve food! Sure, there are little snacks and the like but there are no dishes that can actually satisfy you when you are hungry. This is one thing the lounges definitely need to change.

I have only seen one kid play area by the gates, but apparently kid-free zones are popping up on the actual planes. Even though kids on planes do not bother me (because I have two little ones), I completely understand why some are bothered by them. Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia and Scoot Airlines have kid-free zones. They’re a great idea and I wish an airline could try a “kid-friendly” zone.

This would be a zone where people know there are kids that might kick the back of the seats, cry, giggle, talk loud or want to get up. That sure would take some stress off the parents. Along these lines we are seeing the creation of in-flight nannies! The idea of an in-flight nanny is now realistic. Trained nannies are on the flight to help families with entertaining the kids, which allows the parents to take a nap (yeah, right) or go to the restroom. What a great idea!

Lastly, nap rooms at the airports are showing up. I think this is BRILLIANT! A little secure room that you can rest and get some shut eye. I hope that there is someone that keeps track of your flight info and will notify you if anything changes that you need to be aware of.

In reality, most of us are casual travelers and probably will not see or take advantage of these new developments, but they might be there in the event you find yourself in back-to-back four hour delays (like I was this fall — ugh!) It will likely be another couple years before these ideas are mainstream but try to keep your eyes open and your stress low until then.

Happy holiday travels!