Getting stranded at an airport once meant enduring hours of boredom with nothing to eat but fast food. These days, it can seem more like passing through the gates of Shangri-la to find spas, yoga studios, luxury shopping and restaurant menus crafted by celebrity chefs.
Stung by airline bankruptcies and mergers, more U.S. airports are hunting for alternative revenue streams by hiring top design firms to transform terminals into places of luxury where people actually want to get stuck - and spend money.
Traveler Marty Rapp, passing through Chicago-O'Hare last week, delivered her verdict, calling its new Ice Bar venue "very classy."
According to Airports Council International-North America, revenue from food, beverage, retail and services at U.S. airports hit $1.5 billion in 2011, up 12 percent from the year before.