Once upon a time, the airport was where you waited to take a plane to go somewhere. Now it's a place where you can make yourself at home, and live for years, if you're so inclined.
In the old days, you might be hungry or thirsty while you awaited your boarding call, and so you ate or drank. Sometimes you read, or chatted, or, eventually, listened to iPods, talked on the phone, worked on your computer, or watched TV. When you could smoke without being confined to a horrible little smoking room filled with a cloud of carcinogens, you smoked. A whole subset of businesses grew to take advantage of the ever-increasing time that you must wait for your flight to take you away from the airport to the place where you actually want to go. Those businesses have grown to include shopping for clothes, souvenirs, trinkets, perfume, alcohol, and, now, most amazingly, services.
Manicures and pedicures. Massages. Dry cleaners. Pet hotels. Churches, and/or meditation centers. Fancy VIP clubs for frequent travelers to meet and mingle. And, at San Francisco International, a 150-square-foot yoga room, open to ticketed passengers, that airport officials believe is the "world's first" airport yoga studio. The room used to be a storage area, reports the Associated Press' Terence Chea, and its conversion cost between $15,000 and $20,000.
In it, there are "a few chairs and yoga mats but no instructors or televisions." Signs ask for quiet. Essentially, it's your chance to go in, grab a mat, and do some yoga freestyle for a few minutes as you wait for your flight. (There's no mention of showers.)
Jokes about Northern California notwithstanding, is this really necessary? Sure, traveling is stressful. And stretching and all that jazz is good for you, especially when your legs have been pinched into a tiny space as you hurtle 30,000 feet above terra firma. But wouldn't it be better if airports spent more time finessing the travel experience to minimize our time spent in them, and less time adding "perks" to comfort us during our time there? And let's not even mention the recent debates about whether yoga is even good for you.
Perhaps we're just traditionalists, but we find the unhealthy environment of the airport, full of Us Weekly and bad pinot grigio and greasy snacks somehow soothing. That it lacks the added pressure of having to get up and exercise makes it even better. Still, if the aspiring yogis want to spend their waiting time sweating and doing downward dogs, we suppose that frees up bar space for the rest of us. Not that we want to sit next to them on the plane.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.