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8 underrated amenities all airports should offer

March 28, 2021
7 min read
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.

I admit that I am an airport geek. I get to them early when I'm traveling to walk around and see what's new and interesting. One of the fascinating things I like to discover are the unusual services offered for passengers at airports. So as we shake off our pandemic captivity and slowly begin to travel again, I'm sharing this list of eight cool concessions I've seen in my travels.

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Light-up parking

Nothing is more frustrating than going into a daily or hourly airport parking lot and wandering around desperately searching for a parking spot, especially if you're short on time. At airports, including Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI), the daily and hourly lots not only tell you how many spaces are available, but they use an overhead light system to lead you to open ones. San Antonio International Airport offers s similar system in its hourly lot. Red means a space is occupied and green means it's open. Look for blue lights if you have a placard for disabled parking.


The Xpres Spa at JFK Airport. (Photo courtesy of Xpres Spa)
The XpresSpa at JFK Airport. (Photo courtesy of XpresSpa)

Currently, XpresSpas 56 locations in 23 airports are closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, on March 16, XpresSpa Group has inked a deal with Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) to open two XpresCheck COVID-19 testing centers at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) and Reagan National Airport (DCA). Travelers can get tested at Dulles at pre-security in the airport's main terminal baggage claim level or at the XpresSpa pre-security in National Hall near Terminal B.

But once XpresSpas are up and running again and you have time to kill, go in. If you're about to get on a long-haul flight, you may want to get a back or foot massage. You can get quick nail services, facials, waxing and hair services in certain locations. Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) even has shower rooms. In 2018, the wellness app Calm invested $3 million in XpresSpa, which means that if you're a subscriber, you can get a free Calm x XpresSpa luggage tag when you show the Calm app on your device to an XpresSpa employee. You also receive a free 10-minute relaxation lounger massage when you show the app's home screen with an unlocked Daily Calm.

Supersized cellphone lot

The Final Approach cell phone lot at Denver International Airport. (Photo courtesy of Denver International Airport)
The Final Approach cellphone lot at Denver International Airport. (Photo courtesy of Denver International Airport)

The cellphone lot at Denver International Airport (DEN) is the mother of all cellphone lots. There have been some changes at the Final Approach. It was previously open 24 hours a day, but the spot's four of the five eateries now have limited hours; Tia's Authentic New Mexican Eats is temporarily closed. The lot has 253 parking spaces, eight flight information display boards, free Wi-Fi and a gas station. However, the children’s seating area and indoor restrooms are closed.

Renaissance Books

Milwaukee Airport's (MKE) Renaissance Books (Photo courtesy of Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport)

Located in the Main Terminal at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport (MKE), this isn't the bookstore you're used to seeing. This gem has a fantastic mix of new and used books. If you're a collector, Renaissance even carries rare books.

Related: This airport now lets warm-weather travelers check their winter coats

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Animal relief areas

The Paw Pad at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport's Terminal 3.
The Paw Pad at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport's Terminal 3. (Photo by Benét J. Wilson/The Points Guy)

Dog owners who travel with Fido have access to nine pet parks at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. They all offer a grassy area, mitts and bags to pick up poop and a watering station. The Pet Patch is located just east of Terminal 2. The Paw Pad in Terminal 3 - Level 1 is located outside on the West End and features native Arizona plants. The Bone Yard is on the west side of Terminal 4 on Level 1, just outside of baggage claim.

There are animal relief areas located near the PHX Sky Train stations: the East Economy Park & Bark, located near the East Economy parking garages; and the Park 'n Play, located on the northwest corner of the 44th Street PHX Sky Train Station. Find more animal relief areas post-security at: Terminal 2 on the lower level near the family restroom; Terminal 3 on the South concourse; and Terminal 4 in the D1-D8 gates concourse near the Family Restroom and in the B1-B14 gates concourse near the restrooms at Gate B2.

Related: A comprehensive guide to traveling with pets


The Chase Sapphire Reserve card includes travel protections such as emergency medical and dental benefit. (Photo by Musketeer/Getty Images)
(Photo by Musketeer/Getty Images)

You have a dental emergency on the way to the airport or you want to kill two birds with one stone and get a cleaning before your flight. Thanks to Dr. Robert Trager, you can — if you're flying out of JFK Airport (JFK) or LaGuardia Airport (LGA). He has a full-service dental clinic that handles all common dental procedures, from filling cavities to tooth implants. The clinic accepts all forms of insurance.

Liquor store

The Bayou Spirits liquor store at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. (Photo by Benét J. Wilson/The Points Guy)
The Bayou Spirits liquor store at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. (Photo by Benét J. Wilson/The Points Guy)

Both Las Vegas and New Orleans are known as party cities. So it would only make sense to get the party started right after you land at the airport. McCarran International Airport (LAS) and Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) both have liquor stores near baggage claim where you can shop while waiting for your luggage. Bayou Spirits is located in the baggage claim area of Concourse B and in the new terminal. The Liquor Library at McCarran is located in the baggage claim area in Terminal 1.

Farmer's Fridge

The Farmer's Fridge Asian chopped salad. (Photo courtesy of Farmer's Fridge)
The Farmer's Fridge Asian chopped salad. (Photo courtesy of Farmer's Fridge)

You're at Chicago O'Hare (ORD), Indianapolis International Airport (IND) or MKE, you're hungry but you're short on time and want a healthy meal or snack. This vending machine is ready to serve you freshly made salads (including Asian chopped, Greek and Cobb), snacks (trail mix, spiced nut mix and cookie dough bites), breakfast (Greek yogurt and granola, oats bowl or hard-boiled eggs), bowls and wraps. The locations are:

Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)

  • Terminal 5, Gate M16
  • Terminal 5, Gate 5
  • Terminal 3, Gate K6
  • Terminal 3 Baggage Claim
  • Terminal 5 Arrivals
  • Terminal 1 Gate B20
  • Terminal 2 Gate F6

Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport (MKE)

  • Concourse C
  • Concourse D
  • Indianapolis Airport
  • Gate A14
  • Concourse A
  • Concourse B

Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)

  • C/D Link
  • Baggage Claim
  • A/B Link

Newark/Liberty International Airport (EWR)

  • International Departures
Featured image by (Photo courtesy of San Francisco International Airport)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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