Recently I mentioned one of the business surprises of the greater Burlington, Vermont area: a newspaper, called Seven Days, that has larger in-print circulation, a bigger staff, and higher revenues (including from classified ads) than ever before. Now here's another oddity of the north: a commercial airport whose stated goal is to take the stress, anxiety, hassle, and overall misery out of the modern air-travel experience.
True, the Burlington International Airport -- international because of flights to Canada -- has its share of challenges. A recent story in this same Seven Days pointed out the main ones. Previous expansion projects have left a big debt load to pay off; traffic has suffered in Burlington as in many other non-hub cities as airlines boil down their route maps; Burlington is in a constant fight with Plattsburgh, New York, on the other side of Lake Champlain, to attract travelers from across the border in Canada. And the commercial air terminal relies on an Air National Guard unit at the same airport to underwrite the several-million-dollar annual cost of fire and emergency-rescue services -- which matters because of a controversy about the future of that unit. (This turns on whether the city will allow the ANG's current F-16s to be replaced by F-35s. More anon.)
But recently Burlington's traffic has been going up, along with its revenues, and last Friday the airport's new director, Gene Richards, showed us some features I wish other airports had.
For instance, a yoga room, whose insides are shown in the picture at the top of this post. Like most of the other amenities at the airport -- Wi-fi, luggage carts, computer work stations -- it's offered free to travelers, with costs underwritten by local sponsors. Here is an AP photo of a special concourse yoga class held to celebrate the grand opening of the room a few months ago: