Courtesy of Virgin Atlantic Airways
Nikki Ekstein
March 31, 2015

Facials, massages, and bliss are not really words you associate with airports, but that may soon be changing. Hot on the heels of another travel trend—hotel wellness—airports are beginning to capitalize on pampering their passengers.

Take Abu Dhabi, for example: a trio of big openings has upped the ante for in-terminal pampering. Six Senses, the five-star wellness resort brand, has opened up its first "airport experience" in Etihad’s First and Business Class Lounges, complete with 15-minute realignment massages and “cooling legs” treatments.

Not flying first class? You can still find a full-service TOSA Spa (a brand known for its partnerships with high-end hotels around the world) in Terminal 3, along with an express treatments center in Terminal 1.

Similarly, JetBlue has devoted an entire 1,000 square feet in New York’s JFK for a spa all its own, where any passenger with 15 minutes to spare can pop in for Swedish massages, acupuncture, manicures, or a blow-out.

In fact, many of the latest airport wellness efforts have been championed by airlines—see, for example, the beauty bars at Delta’s Centurion Lounges (in San Francisco, Vegas, New York LaGuardia, and Dallas), the British Airways’-led Elemis Skincare-branded spa at London Heathrow Terminal 5, or the ultra-lush Aurora Spa in Qantas’ First Class terminal at Sydney International.

And of course there's the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, also in New York’s JFK. It features a menu of Dr. Haushka skincare treatments, Bumble & Bumble salon services, and even hot stone massages—some of which are complimentary for “upper class” passengers.

All this development is thanks to two companies that have long dedicated themselves to airport wellness—U.S.-based Xpress Spa and French company BeRelax—both of which are expanding rapidly throughout airports worldwide. Now you can even order Xpress Spa’s ‘Pampering on Demand’ and ‘Massage on the Move’ treatments via mobile app at over 50 locations, and their aestheticians will roll up to your gate with a special spa cart in tow.

It’s good to know that no matter how painful TSA’s policies may get, there’s a increasingly pleasant outlook waiting on the opposite side of the security gate.

Nikki Ekstein is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.

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