Lonely Planet Writer

What would you like to see at airports?

Airports. They’re that place you’ve often got an awkward amount of time to spend – not long enough for a trip into the city, but too long to just hang out drinking litre upon litre of bad coffee. So wouldn't it be nice if airports were destinations in themselves, places where you hoped your plane would be delayed, just so you could linger a little longer.

That’s why we liked this post on the Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree forum: Things I want to see in airports. N_rb, who started the thread, wants a barber shop and somewhere to buy clean socks and underwear.

What are the other most desired airport must-haves? We asked the Lonely Planet community of frequent travellers for their suggestions. It turns out that while airports have shown themselves willing to innovate with 4-storey slides, free spray tans, dance lessons and writers in residence, sometimes people are just keen for a really good version of the basics. Airports, take note:

A place to freshen up

Without doubt, a fresh change of clothes, a shower, maybe even a haircut and a shave, are exactly what’s required to freshen up between flights. ManchVegas suggests a push-cart style shop selling reasonably priced t-shirts, socks and underwear (rather than the leather gloves, cowboy hats and business ties that currently plague airports). And please, access to showers for us plebs who aren’t ‘special lounge club’ members.

A place to lie down

Sometimes all we want is a bit of a lie-down. And we don’t mean by trying to pretend that two hard plastic lounge seats maketh a bed. Rent-by-the-minute bedrooms sound good – thanks Pizza_Wheel for the idea – well, until you wake up and realise you have a bill coming to you for 700 minutes. A billing system that altered your rate depending on whether you’d stayed two days or two hours would fix that. Maybe the room could even be ‘aware’ of your flight number and wake you up when your flight is getting ready to board.

A place to recharge your batteries (literally)

We vote for ultra-compact, cubicle-style rooms that have free Wifi and ports to charge your phone, laptop, etc. That way you could leave your phone on charge somewhere secure if you wanted to roam the airport for a while.

A place to eat well

Food is a major bugbear for most time-stranded travellers. It seems what most of us want after consuming tray after tray of airplane food is not a palate-carpeting bucket of deep-fried chicken, an impotently deflated burger or some tepid yellow fries. Airports have a constant stream of customers who can’t really go anywhere else, so decent restaurants, using fresh produce to make tasty meals at affordable prices – as opposed to what you generally find in airports – shouldn’t be a rarity. Or, as one of our Facebookers Peg suggested, how about just somewhere that offered fresh fruit or ingredients to make your own sandwich with?

A place to stow the kids

For travellers with young children who have been 'enjoying each other's company' during a long-haul flight, Andrea on Facebook suggested 'safe play areas for children with child-sized bathrooms' – yeah, basically somewhere to leave the flight-crazed kids for a couple of hours before you lose your mind. But what do you do while the kids are living it up at Chez Enfant? N_rb mentioned the frustration at forgetting to take that book you’re in the middle of. It seems Taiwan airport is already looking to solve this problem, setting up the world’s first e-library and giving commuters the chance to curl up with a good rented device. Or how about a big, comfy airport cinema to while away the hours?

A place to work out

But maybe sitting down to read or watch a film for a few of hours isn’t what you’re looking for after being on a plane...sitting down for hours and hours. An in-airport gym was a popular idea, for those wanting to remind themselves that they’re a living, breathing, vital being and not just another drooling queue-zombie with an L-shaped spine. And how about a pool? Surely heated and outdoor would be the way to go here, so you could enjoy a lazy float around while taking in some much needed fresh air (and yes, alright, maybe with a dash of aviation-gas fumes, too).

Other suggestions included a laundromat, a place to meet other passengers and play board games, as well as somewhere to meet other passengers and ‘meet up’ more intimately. While some of us can’t think of anything worse than getting off a plane to do the washing or getting up close and personal with more strangers, perhaps these could all be taken care of with one big laundromatic-Ludo-love-lounge.

Surely the most innovative idea we received, however, was from our Facebook friend Paolo. It was a little out there, sure, but he suggested a concept which involved extra staff at airports. These extra staff would help lessen the enormous queues at baggage, check-in, security and immigration, thereby cutting down our hellish waits at the airport. Keep on dreamin’, Paolo. I think you’ll see the advent of the laundromatic-Ludo-love-lounge before that happens.