Though airports have long been home to a few branded spa chains, this segment is taking flight with an influx of new companies and spas, and many airports are adopting healthier alternatives for travelers, employees, and more, making them new and exciting wellness destinations. “Travelers are more tuned into wellness than ever before and understand the benefit of looking after the body and mind at the airport and also onboard,” says Oriele Frank, cofounder and chief marketing officer of Elemis, which has partnered with British Airways for a variety of spa and amenity programs for its first- and business-class passengers at London’s Heathrow and New York’s JFK airports. “We are seeing more demand than ever for pre- and post-flight treatments in our travel spas.”
New on the airport scene are many spa names that have traditionally been associated with hotel, destination, and day spas. For example, SHA Wellness Clinic (Alicante, Spain) recently opened Esenza by SHA at the Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport, while Six Senses opened its first airport spa in Abu Dhabi as part of Etihad Airways’s First and Business Class Lounges. Clarins recently partnered with Air France to exclusively offer 20-minute facial treatments in the Air France Lounge at JFK, introducing the brand’s world-renowned skincare services to clients in need of pampering. “Many people don’t realize the tremendous toll that traveling can take on one’s skin,” says Milana Knowles, senior director of spa development for Clarins USA. “Being in an airplane up in the skies for many hours can cause the skin to undergo changes, such as dehydration and puffiness. Having the opportunity to pamper oneself prior to embarking upon a long flight prepares the skin for harsh traveling conditions, making an incredible difference to the complexion.”
The airports themselves are also getting healthier, providing travelers with better options for food, rest, relaxation, and more. Several airports, including Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, and San Francisco International Airport offer yoga rooms. A few airports include walking paths and workout areas, while still others, like the airports in Atlanta, Dallas, and Philadelphia feature Minute Suites, which are private retreats within the terminal where travelers can nap, relax, or work. Each suite comes equipped with a comfortable daybed sofa, pillows, fresh blankets, and a sound-masking system.
And it’s not just frequent fliers who can partake in airport wellness. Airport staff is getting in on the action too. Delta is planning to open SkySpas this year at three hubs—Atlanta, Detroit, and Salt Lake City—to help flight attendants, customer service agents, and other employees look and feel their best. The spas, created in partnership with XpresSpa, will feature discounted massages, skin- and nailcare services, hair styling, makeup application, and uniform alterations. “When our employees feel great, it’s reflected in the experience they provide our customers,” says Allison Ausband, Delta’s senior vice president of in-flight service. “Making sure our employees are well taken care of and have the tools to look and perform their best is something we’re proud to do for our people. We know working at the airport or onboard can take a toll, and offering the SkySpa at some of our busiest hubs helps address that.”
What’s next? As part of a recent promotion, Air Malta debuted free in-flight hand, foot, and neck massages on a limited number of flights and is considering making it a long-term offering. Knowles says she sees larger-scale in-flight services and relaxation exercises on the horizon, and Frank agrees. “I think if we were able to make it work logistically, it would be brilliant to deliver certain treatments onboard long-haul flights,” she says. “You have a captive audience, and if we can deliver wellness benefits in that space of time, the benefit to the passenger for not only the skin but also the mind and the body could be huge.”