Airport cart

So I’m sitting in the Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport in Barranquilla, Colombia near the warm Caribbean sea. The airline’s gate hostess just made a squawky announcement. And judging by the groans of the people around me, our flight’s been delayed for the second time this morning.

There is a bright side to the wait: Colombia’s national airline, Avianca, has thoughtfully left us some free snacks and soft drinks. Nice touch. Why don’t more airlines do this (and not just in the business lounges)?

Let’s face it: modern airports are glorified shopping malls. So how come airports don’t offer us the kind of entertainment and amenities you get when you’re shopping?

We need an airport-improvement manifesto.

In other words, here are:


#16) TV/movie theatres

Theatres are a great way to make airports feel more like home. Let us choose from different entertainment rooms like the Action Film theatre, Comedy theatre, or Sports theatre featuring multiple screens playing games from around the world. You could watch your game with surround-sound or with headphones that translate the play-by-play into your language. And to avoid missed flights, just pre-program your flight number into your headphones, so you receive a red alert when it’s time to board.

#15) Hot tubs & clawfoot bathtubs with candles

#14) Billiards tables 

All I ask is one bar per airport where I can do something with my body other than pour shots and french fries down my gullet. Don’t worry, the pool table will be safe. I highly doubt they’ll lead to gambling and other vices…much. And unlike the pool tables in American roadhouse bars, airport bar pool tables probably won’t attract hot drunk farm girls who’ll get you into fights with the local biker gang.

#13) Go-kart racing

Go karting
Don’t tell me airports don’t have room for go-kart racetracks. Houston’s international airport, George Bush Intercontinental, is HUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE. This airport is like its own country…a very large, very bland, very sad country because it doesn’t (yet) have a go-kart racetrack. 

#12) Sherpas/butlers

Some airports are so enormous, you need a sherpa/butler to help you trek from distant terminals. So let’s boost the economy, get North Americans working again, and offer butlers/sherpas for hire in every major airport.

#11) Free champagne / scotch tastings

Best way to convince me to buy your Duty Free booze is if you pour a little down my throat and tell me how/why I’m experiencing Nirvana in liquid form.

#10) Waterslides

#9) Speed dating

#8) High tea

There are five ‘restaurants’ in every major American airport: Fuddrucker’s, T.G.I. Friday’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut, and some greasy rib joint that ends in ‘______ Bayou Grill’. Come on, America, you’re better than that. Give us alternatives. Give us exotic restaurants serving delicious Ethiopian and Caribbean dishes. And while you’re at it, honour your British origins by serving High Tea with three-tiered trays of miniature pastries, sweets, sweet scones, Devon cream, raspberry jam, and sandwiches.

#7) Wheels

To help me make those brutally-long treks between connecting flights, give me the chance to rent a Segway, scooter, skateboard, or adult-sized trike.

#6) Kiddy fun for adults

Airports will automatically be more fun if you build kiddy ball rooms and inflatable bouncy castles for stressed-out adults.

#5) Sports

Let us pass the time with batting cages,  wrestling, feats of strength competitions, shuffleboard courts,  and driving ranges.

#4) Nap rooms

A good sleep = a happy traveller. London’s Heathrow airport has nap beds in hidden alcoves. We should expand on that idea and have dedicated nap rooms with comfortable beds, light-blocking curtains, and soothing music. Plus there should be a concierge to wake us up so we don’t miss our flights.

#3) Map room

For a refreshing change, I’d like to learn about the country I’m visiting before I even get there.

#2) Public libraries…with really, really short lending periods.

#1) Adult education classrooms

  Karate class

If you’re facing a 4-hour layover or longer, you could take a class in massage, cooking, pickpocket prevention, or how to karate chop a terrorist in the neck.

How would you make airports more fun?

— Ken Hegan

BING: world’s best airports?

Read all of Ken’s MSN travel posts here and follow Ken to victory on Twitter