airport spa

XpresSpa adds a stretching service to its menu

We all know travel can be stressful.

And XpresSpa, which offers massage, nail care and rejuvenation services in airports around the world, is now offering a stretching service at 15 of its U.S. airport locations.

Sessions range from 15 to 30 minutes and target travelers who deal with long flights and/or extensive delays. To combat those travel woes, the new stretching service focuses on enhanced blood circulation and reduced muscle fatigue.

For this service, XpresSpa is partnering with a company called Hyperice and makes use of that company’s Hypervolts 2 massage gun and a new heated attachment.

“As air travel enthusiasts and jet-setters prepare to embark on their next adventure, they often focus on packing their bags, checking flight itineraries, and ensuring all necessary documents are in order,” said XWELL CEO Scott Milford. “However, they often overlook the benefits of incorporating relaxing stretch into their travel routine to provide additional peace of mind as they make their way through the world.”

The new stretching sessions are offered in increments of 15 minutes, 20 minutes, and 30 minutes. And the sessions cost $45, $55, and $75 respectively.

Or you can try a do-it-yourself stretching and singing session with this vintage Romper Room song:

If you try the modern XpresSpa version, let us know if you recommend the service.

Amenities coming to your airport – maybe.



A major role of commercial airports is, of course, to provide the facilities where passengers can get on and off the airplanes that zip around the world.

But airports are also increasingly where travelers spend time (sometimes a very long time) eating, shopping, playing, socializing, getting pampered, sleeping, working out and taking care of personal and official business.

Even if you take just a few flights a year, you’ve surely noticed that airports large and small have been seriously upping their game, making terminals prettier and easier to maneuver and filling corridors with a wide range of welcome dining, retail and other conveniences.

The good news is that this push to upgrade continues. Airlines and airports are pouring millions of dollars into terminal improvements, and at a conference hosted by Airport Revenue News earlier this month, the talk was of strategies for making terminals even more customer-friendly. Here are some of the amenities and services spotted in the exhibition hall that may make their way to airports worldwide.

More self-serve shops

Thanks to Zoomsystems and other vending machine-style automated retailers, it’s no longer a novelty to purchase electronics or classy, travel-sized personal items from a kiosk at an airport.

Benefit Cosmetic kiosk_photo Harriet Baskas

In addition to Best Buy Express, Straight Talk Wireless and 3 FLOZ brands, Zoomsystems has been rolling out a fleet of Benefit Cosmetics kiosks for airports designed to look like pink, vintage buses. And an Amazon-branded kiosk now dispenses Kindles and Kindle-accessories at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Houston (IAH), Oakland and San Francisco. A Kindle kiosk should appear at the Atlanta airport by mid-April, said Melissa Jones of Zoomsystems.

And for travelers who wear glasses, Opticwash is hoping airports will install its automated kiosks that use ultraviolet light to wash and clean eyeglasses or sunglasses in about a minute for a suggested price of one dollar.

Opticwash kiosk for cleaning eyeglasses and sunglasses_photo Harriet Baskas

Catering to ‘gate huggers’

Because so many travelers like to get through security and make a beeline for their gates, airport hold rooms are getting makeovers.

With iPads and delivery service, OTG transformed hold rooms at airports in New York, Minneapolis, Toronto and several other cities into marketing zones. Now Paradies, which has shops in dozens of airports, has an “At Your Service” cart stocked with soft drinks, snacks, magazines, neck pillows and other newsstand bestsellers that can be easily rolled into busy hold areas before a flight.

“The cart service lets us serve the ‘gate huggers’ and is made possible by new technology and need,” said Justin Marlett, senior marketing manager for Paradies.

John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Calif., got the first, pushcart-style, version of the Paradies “At Your Service” cart and Florida’s Palm Beach International Airport is home to the first full-sized unit.

Expanding spas

Travel can be stressful no matter how customer friendly an airport appears to be, so spas offering everything from neck and foot massages to manicures, haircuts and facials continue to expand their presence in the nation’s terminals.

XpresSpa now has more than 50 locations, while Paris-based Be Relax, which currently has U.S. branches at Baltimore-Washington, Boston Logan, Detroit Metropolitan and San Diego, will be opening its full-service branch – with barbers and hair styling services – at the end of April at JetBlue’s Terminal 5 at JFK International Airport.

More to eat

Dining options at most airports have definitely been expanding and improving. And while many popular new “concepts” in airports are joint ventures between established concession management companies and local or national restaurateurs, a wide range of companies — from SONIC (known for its drive-ins) to Camille’s Hand-Dipped Ice Cream Bars and Luvo, whose healthy wraps and snacks are currently offered on some Delta Air Lines’ flights — are trying to break into the club.

“Being in an airport would give us a great platform for getting our brand into markets where we currently have little or no penetration,” said Greg Delks, vice president for franchise development for Firehouse Subs, which has almost 750 street-side branches but is hoping to get its first airport location.

Firehouse Subs hoping to move into airports_photo Harriet Baskas

“There’s a ceiling to how much some of these brands can grow on the street side,” said Ramon Lo, editorial director of Airport Revenue News, “so they’re trying to get ahead of the curve, diversify and find different avenues of growth.”


Another new amenity to begin looking for in domestic airports is the HappyOrNot customer feedback device already in use in at least 40 airports outside the United States.

HappyOrNotKiosk being tested at Greenville-Spartanburg Int'l Airport t_photo courtesy GSP Airport

The units have four, brightly-colored smiley face-based buttons that make it easy for passengers to give immediate feedback on the service they’ve received at checkpoints, gates, transfer desks and other spots. In some airports, travelers can use a similar device to rate the cleanliness and condition of the restrooms.

The first U.S. airport to install HappyOrNot machines is Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport in South Carolina, which currently has a few test units in the baggage claim area.

“We strive to improve the customer experience … and look for ways to measure the effectiveness of all these efforts,” said Rosylin Weston, GSP spokesperson. The HappyOrNot units are not only an effective overall measurement tool, said Weston, “but they can analyze data on a weekly, daily or even hourly basis.”

(My story about fresh airport amenities first appeared on my “At the Airport” column on

Spas at O’Hare & free ice-cream for Virgin America passengers

Good news for anyone who finds themselves stuck at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.

There are now full-service spas in the domestic terminals.


Terminal Getaway Spa, which already has a branch at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT), has opened two branches at O’Hare: one in Terminal 1 near Gate B14 and another in Terminal 3 near Gate H1.

A third branch is scheduled to open this spring in the H/K Corridor, near the American Airlines Admirals Club.

Services on the menu include manicures, pedicures, massages and more.

And, if you’re flying on Virgin America out of San Francisco between March 4- June 30, you can get free ice-cream – on the ground.

VIrgin America Ice cream

As part of a roll-out for the new menu for first-class passengers on the airline’s long-haul business flights between San Francisco and Los Angeles to Newark, New York, Boston and Washington National Airport, the airline is offering travelers in any cabin a free scoop of Humphry Slocombe’s ice cream.

The San Francisco-based ice-cream maker has whipped up three ice cream flavors for Virgin American – Butter By Moodlight, Red-Hot Banana and Coconut Blond Ambition – and Virgin America is inviting the public to vote via Twitter on which should be the airline’s signature flavor served on board.

Free tastings took place at San Francisco International Airport on Feb. 20, but from March 4 – June 30, anyone showing a Virgin America boarding pass at either of the Humphry Slocombe’s two San Francisco locations (The Ferry Building & Mission) can get a free scoop.

In addition to the new first-class menu, Virgin America is also updating its First Class service settings with hot towel and linen table service available on all flights.