For many travelers, airports are places to pass through as swiftly as possible, not places to savor. The incessant drone of announcements, the frustration of being shut out of increasingly exclusive lounges, the overpriced food, the serpentine lines and the fruitless search for an electrical outlet, all can make for a hellish experience.
But every now and then an airport can offer unexpected and delightful amenities that ease travel’s pain points.
For Bill Tsutsui, 60, it was the vending machine at Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport in eastern Washington that sells canned cheese.
“You get really jaded going through airports. Oh, yawn, another yoga room,” said Mr. Tsutsui, of Ottawa, Kan. “There was something so beautiful and uncorporate and local about it.”
Mr. Tsutsui was one of more than 1,300 people who responded when we asked readers to tell us about their favorite airport amenities. Their suggestions included, yes, yoga rooms (at San Francisco International Airport, Chicago Midway International Airport, and Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, among others) but also short-story dispensers, tranquil gardens, even a swimming pool.
Here’s a list that might make your next layover actually enjoyable.
Read a book, catch a movie
Some airports offer a dose of art, music and literature. Linda Norris, of Treadwell, N.Y., singled out Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport for its library and branch of the acclaimed national museum, both located after security on Holland Boulevard, the airport’s cultural zone. These spaces are “oases of calm” that highlight Dutch culture, she said.
“The library is never busy; it’s beautifully designed and has a variety of comfy seating,” added Ms. Norris, 68. “Sometimes I look at their books, sometimes not, but it’s a part of the airport that never feels rushed.”
Travelers can browse the library’s collection of Dutch literature translated into some 40 languages (sorry, no borrowing).
At Chicago O’Hare International Airport, a tunnel of neon lights and mirrors by the artist Michael Hayden and the architect Helmut Jahn enlivens a subterranean passageway (located after security in Terminal 1 between Concourses B and C).
At Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport, there’s a branch of Renaissance Books, a beloved local used-book…