If I ran an airport:
- People wishing to work security must be able to answer the following question without grimacing: Who is your favorite superhero? AND they must be able to produce a genuine smile for five consecutive minutes.
- I would have a gigantic two-sided clock hanging right in the middle of each terminal. And throughout the airport, I would post clocks displaying the time around the world. There would be a fun object on every second hand – something that represents the place, like a Statue of Liberty for NYC time or Big Ben for London; Jerry Lewis for France.
- I would play relaxing music on the loudspeakers until there was need for an announcement; all announcements would be made by Antonio Banderas or James McAvoy. With video accompaniment on giant ceiling-mounted screens.
- I would provide water fountains every 30 yards, with big sinks so people could fill their water bottles. People without their own water bottles could purchase one from a machine next to the fountains and the money would be donated to homeless programs.
- For every high-end expensive store I allow to rent space, I would invite two small local artists or booksellers or bakers to set up shop.
- Restaurants would pay lower rent if they give leftover/extra food to shelters each day.
- I would have recycling bins everywhere and give rent discounts to vendors who use eco-friendly supplies or limit their packaging.
- I would have a display of flyers (recycled paper!) detailing current & upcoming events in the area so people arriving could enjoy some local culture along with the popular tourist attractions. I would have a directory posted featuring smaller restaurants, art galleries, bookstores, and other interesting off-the-beaten-path venues for people to patronize; I would also list such necessities as Laundromats, grocery & convenience stores, antique & thrift stores (for unique souvenirs). These businesses would be encouraged to leave their cards for travelers to take.
- I would have a staff of smartly dressed individuals continually wiping seats & sweeping & checking bathrooms & smiling pleasantly at travelers. They would be smiling pleasantly because I would pay them a living wage with benefits and give them a free flight each year as long as no one complains about them. (Though I would certainly take into consideration the nature & validity of any complaints received; some people like to bitch about everything in order to make their lives complete. Not that I've ever run into anyone like that...).
- I would require all workers to know key phrases (“Hello,” “Welcome,” “How can I help?,” “Thank you,” “Would you like a cocktail?”) in numerous foreign languages, and they must be able to adroitly direct travelers to important places within the airport (bathrooms, restaurants, gates, bars).
- Airlines would be mandated to give chocolate bars (or bags of chips for the crazy people in the world who actually do not like chocolate [hi, Jen, miss you!]) to all passengers of flights delayed more than half an hour. They would have to give drink vouchers when flights are delayed past an hour.
- Artwork & poetry created by local teens would be on display throughout.
- In-chair neck or arm massages would be offered to those who inquire politely and make a donation to a charity of their choice.
And the world would be a happier place.