Airports as the new cathedrals of travel

By SETH J. FRANTZMAN

I’m at another airport this Sunday. Newark’s Liberty airport isn’t exactly the best. It’s several terminals are divided from one another. There is no Priority Pass lounge in Terminal C. Also the section of Terminal C I seem to be in is the most meagre section. But it is still impressive in terms of how food choices have increased and also how they have become more upscale. There is a nice well-appointed bar here. The decor is what is impressive.

It seeks to transform the airport experience into another world. I’m not at an airport, but at a fun bar. I could be on vacation. On a beach. It has fake trees and a whole wall of greenery. It’s not the only sort like this. Everything has been well designed to take away from this sterile machine-like hospital airport feel. That feel of standing in endless TSA lines and being put through a conveyor belt.

This is an example of how airports have become the new cathedrals of travel. It is a semi-religious experience of being moved from the civilian world to that of the transportation world. We know we will be put into some kind of airline that is not ideal. We know the travel experience has become more compact. But for that short time from the check-in to the security to the plane, we can have a moment of pleasure, of being taken away from the slow moving boredom.

In contrast to the lounges, which can be a mix of good and bad, the overall attempt to increase the food opportunities at airports is a welcome change. In contrast the overall reduction of choices in the book shops show that the public is less interested in reading and more interested in social media and other  items. But  everything is more user-friendly. The order form at this bar has a tablet to order from. Good. That’s an advance. Now I must go from the enjoyment of the bar to the long corridor to the plan. But for this short period at least I’ve enjoyed a moment of vacation.

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