Airport Fitness and Wellness Trends for 2017

The latest airport fitness and wellness trends of 2017 will surely inspire. This year it’s all about getting fit, eating healthy and keeping your mind at peace. Who doesn’t want that?

Airport layovers have a bad rep for being boring, loud and without fail, confusing. Sometimes layovers could be short and sweet, and sometimes they can end up being unexpectedly long and exhausting. Those of you who have suffered from a lousy layover know exactly what we’re talking about. It’s just not chill.

To cater to the demands of wellness-oriented travelers, many airports are providing passengers a better experience via airport fitness and wellness options. Who even knows what all the options are? That’s why we started Vane in the first place: To empower travelers to be the healthiest during their layovers. After all, #itravelwell.

The future of betterment is everywhere, and the airport is no exception. Good health requires a holistic approach that takes into account various elements of the travel experience.  For example, airport design and ambiance, stress relieving services, and personalized customer service.

Now that 2017 is here, terminals are buzzing with airport fitness and wellness trends. In looking ahead, we’ve spoken with fitness and wellness experts, airports and concessions to identify the top 10 trends we’re confident will better shape your next travel experience.

Airport Fitness and Wellness Trends for 2017

PHOTO via Pexels


1. Yoga Rooms

Yoga can help passengers feel centered and help them move to their next destination in a refreshed, calm way. Several airports around the world already have yoga rooms where you can practice your best warrior pose or simply just stretch out. Currently, you can get flexible at Sydney Airport, Chicago O’Hare and Midway Airports, San Francisco International Airport, Dallas Fort Worth and Burlington International Airport in Vermont.

Last year, several international hubs experimented with providing yoga spaces and classes but had stopped short of a permanent commitment. For instance, JetBlue held free one-hour yoga classes at JFK International Airport to help passengers de-stress before their flights. Vancouver Airport was also the first airport in Canada to offer a yoga space!

Classes also offered at Charles de Gaulle Airport and Orly Airport in Paris. Further, in 2016 Miami Airport opened its official yoga room, while Santiago, Chile Airport became the first South American airport to offer free yoga twice a week (every Tuesday and Thursday in Gate 15) and Frankfurt International kicked off 2016 by opening two new yoga rooms in Terminals 1 and 2.

We expect to see more of your downward-facing dogs in 2017.

PHOTO via Pexels

2. Airport Therapy Dogs

There is ample evidence that petting dogs can help reduce stress and has been a growing trend in airports around the world. This past holiday season, United Airlines implemented their United Paws Initiative for the third year in a row at Terminal C at Newark Liberty International Airport – calming passengers down by giving them a lick!

Last year, many airports around the world incorporated therapy dogs service to help reduce passenger stress as well. California has six therapy dog programs, Canada has seven airports with therapy dog programs, and there are approximately 35 airports in the US that have airport therapy dog programs. There’s no excuse to be stressed at the airport ever again with these furry friends wandering around.

PHOTO via Pexels

3. Airport Spas

There are more spas opening at airports to help cool your jets. However, many seem empty. Why? Many passengers have rightfully debated that anyone could have a decent spa treatment during a layover, while some people strongly oppose it.

Airport spas are taking off- whether you’re for it or not.

Some of the top airport spa experiences are available through exclusive airport lounges. Most airline lounges seem to provide some superior spa services – such as Eric Rosen’s article points out. Some of the most luxurious spa services, come from such lounges. British Airways Galleries Club has four locations – one in Terminal 3 and three in Terminal 5. They use a sought-after anti-aging skin-care line, Elemis, and offers a whopping 13 treatments on their airport menus.

Last year I met with Alexandre Antuszewicz, Marketing Director and Partner & Co-Founder at Be Relax Spa, at their Toronto Pearson Airport location. They opened 9 locations worldwide in 2016 and plan to open a few locations new locations in 2017, plus a world premiere new concept at Heathrow Airport around April 2017.

Terminal Getaway Spa has 5 locations in Chicago O’Hare, Charlotte Douglas, and Orlando International Airports.

CEO and founder, Marko Iglendza of Terminal Getaway Spa told us they would be “opening four new spas 2017, 4 in Tampa International Airport (airsides A, C, E & F) and 2 in Seattle-Tacoma International Airport with the goal is to continue to expand nationally.”

4. Airport Healthy Food Options

Whether you’re traveling for business or vacation, airports can pose a challenge to healthy eating. Forget bad airport food and the stale pre-wrapped sandwich – there are better things to come in 2017.

PHOTO via OTG Management

Last year, OTG opened the world’s first airport restaurant where the entire menu changes DAILY. Hence, the concept embraces a seasonal-inspired menu sourced from nearby farmer’s markets. How cool is that?

The farm-to-table movement will continue to pop up in new airport locations thanks to its blend of two rising trends: wellness travel and healthy travel. A slew of celebrity chefs are also creating eateries featuring cuisine from around the world. Check out our guide of which celebrity chefs to visit at Pearson International Airport.




5. Airport Fitness

There are many fitness options at airports such as yoga rooms, walking routes inside terminals and airport gyms.

This year Roam Fitness is opening its first airport gym at Baltimore-Washington International. The fully staffed, 1,175-square-foot gym (located past security) will feature state of the art equipment to help you break a sweat during your layover. The gym will also provide showers that can be reserved in advance, and day passes that are $40 for the first-time visitor – monthly and yearly plans will be offered too.

Last year, ZEROlevel Fitness located inside McCarran Airport, opened its doors to passengers inside the airport. But if you’re looking for a modern, workout at a gym, check out airport hotels for their fitness center day passes.

PHOTO via media center.heathrow

6. Airport Green Spaces

Wellness is more than yoga and meditation – it’s a sensory experience. Airport design and ambiance have an impact on our overall well-being. Studies have shown that urban green spaces have value beyond their beauty and environmental importance.

At many airports around the world, we have seen green spaces on the rise. Last fall, London’s Heathrow airport installed a vertical garden of 1,680 plants at Gate 25, Terminal 3, in a bid to de-stress passengers.

In a study by the Nature Journal, they state that green spaces will provide a “natural high” while a cognitive psychologist at the University of Utah who specializes in attention, cites that “being in nature allows the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s command center, to dial down and rest, like an overused muscle.” There are many airport gardens in North America and internationally. 

We expect to see more green at airports in 2017 to make layovers less red. The airport of the future is here to relax you instead of stressing you out by providing more green spaces and natural surroundings.

7. Airports are getting more personal

PHOTO via London Stansted Airport

There is no same traveler alike – some are experienced road warriors, family travelers, those traveling with special needs, those traveling with pets. Just to name a few.

For example, travelers flying with children who have autism at London Stansted Airport can wear a wristband  #AutismAwareness wristbands.  There are over 15 airports in the US that offer flying rehearsal programs such as Boston Logan International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and Philadelphia International Airport.

CAA released new airport guidelines to support travelers with hidden disabilities. Among some recommendations laid out by the CAA, was the need for airports to provide staff with hidden disability awareness training and give disabled travelers the option of wearing a lanyard or bracelet quickly identifying them to staff when they were in need of assistance.

We anticipate that many airports will continue to assist travelers with autism and dementia. As well, we think there will be more nursing stations, and kids play areas.

Overall passengers’ needs will continue to become more personalized and less like you are stepping into foreign territory.

8. Airport Nap and Rest Zones

Taking a rest or nap or just hanging out in a quiet area has many positive health benefits.

Airports are designating nap or rest zones for passengers to kick back in. For instance, last year Frankfurt Airport introduced  “silent chairs” to help passengers get some calm.

PHOTO via Yotel. Image of Gatwick Airport premium cabin

Private pods accommodate short-stays and charge pay-by-the-hour for micro-spaces to unwind and relax in.

Sahrette Saayman from Yotel explained that “Bookings are made for a minimum of four hours and then by the hour, so our guests can plan their booking times for when they need it, whether it is an overnight stay before or after a flight or during a long transit.”

Last year, YOTELAIR opened its latest property in Paris, Charles de Gaulle. They also operate YOTELAIR hotels in London Heathrow, London Gatwick, and Amsterdam Schiphol airports. Their next YOTELAIR property to open will be in 2018 in Singapore Changi Airport.

Other trends for this year are that airport hotels are more frequently providing passengers with hourly or day rates to unwind in.

PHOTO via OTG Management

9. Airport Design

A great airport design takes into account passengers’ anxiety for the airport and takes it away. Some airports can be dark – and confusing. We love the innovative and award-winning design of OTG and its design partner ICrave.

The new designs unveiled this year for Heathrow Airport will include large open green spaces and vast expanses of glass.

We believe that the future of airport design will incorporate the needs of every passenger in an environment that is no longer depressing, stressful or anxiety-provoking. The airports of 2017 will have a pleasing visual model and be a place where you will feel relaxed and welcome.

10. Airlines and Wellness

You thought the airport was bad? You’re stepping into a metal tube for hours on end when you board an airplane. So what are they doing to help soothe the minds of the wellness-oriented travelers?

Singapore Airline has debuted a new lighting system in-flight that mimics the sun’s glow to reduce passengers’ jet-lag. We hope other airlines hop on board for this trend in 2017 too!

A Heathrow Airport study done in 2016 shows that travelers are craving healthier eating options even while flying. Forget the pre-wrapped sandwich, the most popular vote was for on-flight sushi.

RECOMMENDED:  Five Ways Airlines Are Making Flying Healthier In 2017

Healthy living continues to inspire the world – and airports too.

Whatever your goals are for the New Year, there’s no time like now. Eat well, don’t compromise your health, do some meditation and stretch out – and smile despite your second flight delay.

Cheers to a New Year of travel, no matter where your layover may be. We hope that these airport fitness and wellness trends help layovers suck less!

Cristina Alcivar

Founder and Editor of Vane Airport Magazine. Passionate about everything well-being, love travel, the ocean, and the sun.


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