Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Paris Journal I: Airport Lounge

These days, when someone is looking for an airport, it usually just means they want to activate their Wi-Fi connection. One of the few refuges at real airports are the lounges that can be enjoyed by holding certain kinds of credit cards or upgrading to a business class ticket. A good lounge is far from the madding crowd, and frequently offers comforting snacks. For instance, the Alitalia lounge in Milan is noted for its seemingly infinite supply of nuts. The Lufthansa lounge at Kennedy didn’t have that many nuts a few years ago, but it served a rotating buffet of hot hors d’oeuvres. Open Skies and Jet Air share a lounge at Newark that is totally devoid of nuts, but potato chip friendly. There are bags of Lay's, both the classic and barbecue variety, along with a large bowl of far more substantive chips that look like they’ve been freshly cooked. The modern lounge of today, with all its ready amenities, including Wi-Fi, poses the question of why it’s actually necessary to go anywhere. If one goes to the Louvre, one is likely to be checking one’s Blackberry for emails. In today’s well equipped lounge, one can easily visit the Louvre or the Tate online, and have a far more intimate connection with the art than one might have navigating the crowds at some blockbuster, multi-media Picasso exhibit. Perhaps lounges should become destination points, since they provide the illusion of travel without the inevitable disappointments that transpire upon arrival at an actual destination. Remember Arthur Hailey’s Airport, and the Burt Lancaster movie it inspired?


  1. Your post about airport lounges as destinations brought to mind a NYT article about David Rockwell's collaboration with choreographer Jerry Mitchell in designing the JetBlue terminal (formerly TWA by Eero Saarinen). They were exploring movement through a public space as it affects the experience of travel and its associated emotions. But more to your point, Mr. Mitchell was quoted: "Is it an airport? Is it a Broadway show? What's the difference?"

  2. Check out Maureen Owen's No Travels Journal. This reminds me of being a kid in South Dakota, when for entertainment we would go out to the airport & watch the plane (probably not more than 1!) take off & land, & buy strange candy bars that weren't sold anywhere else.


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