⊕ Viewpoint: Halt the trend of trendier airports

Liz headshotI don’t know about ya’ll, but sometimes I get the travel bug. And bad. The list of cities and countries on my must-see bucket list is ever expanding (even though the time allotted to see them is not), and I got to knock out one in particular a mere few months ago.

NYC for NYE was about as jam- packed an adventure I’ve had in years. Empire State buildings, 30 Rock tours, Times Squaring. And so it’s only understandable that whenit came about to depart for home, all I really wanted was a comfy chair (well, as comfortable a chair as airport accommodations can allow), my novel-in-progress (something cheesy and easy to read, of course) and some super junky junk food that I can only indulge in whilst traveling (those New York black and white cookies? Um, yes, please). But, boy, was I in for a big surprise.

I approached my gate and much to my dismay, there was a ghastly amount of seating. I realize this is not likely a new complaint, but I’m sorry, if an airplane holds roughly 500 people, there should be roughly 500 seating options in the adjacent, surrounding boarding area. Am I right? Or am I right? I mean, there were enough table-mounted iPads to entertain about 2,000 passersby, but chairs, it seemed, were at the most ultimate premium. Backless high-top barstools, by the way, do.not.count. I don’t care how fast your Wi-Fi connection is.

Besides being bewildered, it made me wonder, is this the latest trend in travel? Sure, there’s a definite push to make airports techno-savvy (cue the iPads) and an upswing toward the upscale – wine bars, fire pits and yoga studios (seriously, fly through San Fran, it’s true) – but is comfortable seating the next to go? Maybe, maybe not. There’s not exactly ample research on the topic. And I haven’t logged enough terminal time to consider myself an expert on the topic. It would be easier to say there’s a bigger push for more well-equipped seating – with unlimited electrical outlets, a casino-type ploy so you’ll spend more money while in wait – and airlines have historically paid little attention, at least in the past, to their respective terminal areas. So maybe a hint of change wouldn’t be all that bad. Southwest Airlines, mind you, is actually adding cushy seats in its terminal areas. Maybe I should check them out next time I fly. Because, in my eyes, limiting my seating options only adds insult to that $20 McDonalds-quality burger you serve on a platter with a side of $7 French fries.

I’ll take my recliner any day. But, then again, I’d miss the joys of the airport experience. I mean, the people watching was at least worth it. And that blazing fast Wi-Fi…it was free.

 

Liz Engel Clark is the editor of the Upper Cumberland Business Journal. She can be reached at liz@ucbjournal.com.