3 U.S. Airports That Offer New and Noteworthy Experiences

3 U.S. Airports That Offer New and Noteworthy Experiences

These airports in Baltimore, Denver and Portland are easing travel stress and boredom with unique amenities By: Heather Mundt
<p>Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall now has a gym that features amenities specifically intended for travelers. // © 2017...

Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall now has a gym that features amenities specifically intended for travelers. // © 2017 iStock

Feature image (above): Denver International Airport’s event programming included a temporary ice-skating rink in winter 2016. // © 2017 Denver International Airport

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Just as international airports are tempting travelers with a wealth of in-house entertainment features — from golf courses to beer gardens and aquariums — U.S. airports are beginning to join in the fun.

“We are seeing that more airports are offering a number of activities in the country and around the world,” said Daria Serna, communications specialist for Colorado’s Denver International Airport (DIA). “And that’s something that DIA wants to provide to the communities and to the passengers. We want people to enjoy their experience at the airport.”

Kama Simonds, spokesperson for Portland International Airport (PDX), adds that since travel is often stressful for everyone, why not provide a facility and amenities that help make the experience more comfortable and enjoyable for all?

“People take a lot of pride in PDX — all those who work here and all those who use it,” she said. “As the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression; we want your first impression of our city/region to begin with a welcoming airport experience.”

Following are U.S. airports putting their best first impressions forward.   

Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) for Fitness
Travelers needing to squeeze in a workout before boarding a plane can now get their sweat on post-security at BWI. Featuring a first-of-its-kind airport gym and shower facility, Roam Fitness opened in January between Concourses D and E. 

Outfitted with a range of Technogym cardio equipment, free weights, stretching space with yoga mats and private showers with towel service, members will have access to state-of-the-art equipment; Lululemon athletic clothing and Brooks running shoes available for rent (included in the price of pass) or purchase; and healthy food and beverage items. 

And this isn’t just a regular gym — features have been considered for travelers specifically. The shower service operates via a reservation system to ensure members are at their gate on time, and Roam offers to vacuum seal used workout clothing so odor won’t seep into luggage. 

Current prices are $25 for a day, $100 for a month and $350 for a year. 

Memberships can be purchased in the facility or ahead of time online. 


Denver International Airport (DIA) for Outdoor Entertainment
When The Westin Denver International Airport opened in November 2015, travelers at DIA were given a more convenient hotel option. But it also allowed for the creation of a new space between the hotel and DIA’s Jeppesen Terminal: an 82,000-square-foot, open-air plaza. Translation? The perfect outdoor-entertainment venue.       

Since June 2016, the airport has launched a full line of programming called “Events at DEN,” starting with Putt-Putt on the Plaza, a nine-hole, Denver-themed miniature golf course. Other events have included a bike celebration featuring loaner bikes to use on a bike-skills course; a Spirit of Colorado celebration with music, stuntmen, gold mining for kids, a photo booth with an Old West theme and tastings from local distilleries; and a film series featuring classics such as “Top Gun” and “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.” Also, to kick off the holiday season, DIA offered an ice-skating rink from Nov. 25 to Jan. 1, 2017, as well as a holiday market, music performances and screenings of “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” that included an “ugly sweater” contest.

All “Events at DEN” are free to travelers and the public. More “Events at DEN” are expected to be scheduled at DIA in 2017. 


Portland International Airport (PDX) for the Arts
In addition to offering an active art and entertainment program, a kids’ play area, lactation rooms and a post-security pet relief area, PDX has added another unique airport amenity this February: a “microcinema.” 

Located in a former business center on Concourse C, the 880-square-foot movie theater is a partnership between PDX and Portland's iconic not-for-profit Hollywood Theatre to bring free short-format programs to ticketed passengers. 

Offering seats for 17 guests with standing room for up to 20 additional people, as well as space for live performances, the theater will spotlight Portland artists and films about Portland and Oregon. Presenting hour-long programs on a looping reel — including documentaries, animations, short fiction and music videos, updated quarterly — the theater will be open to travelers 24 hours daily. The microcinema will also feature occasional live performances and special events.


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