From spas to massages, airports offer stress relief on the fly

— -- One sure-bet souvenir of air travel these days is stress. That's probably why airport concourses are dotted with bars, and why those bars always are always full of cranky road warriors.

But those seeking relief from the tensions of travel have an expanding choice of more soothing options: In addition to sports bars and wine bars, more and more airports are now home to massage bars, oxygen bars and places to get pampered.

Here's a snapshot of just some of what's out there:

New terminals; new spa services

When the new Indianapolis International Airport officially opens on November 12th, travelers will find fresh artwork, new restaurants and shops, and an expanded menu of holistic services at the airport spa. The post-security Enroute Massage and Spa (formerly Passport Travel Spa) will offer manicures and pedicures, chair and table massages, and a new 20-minute, three-technician, three-service treatment (the "3 in 20") that offers time-pressed travelers a neck and shoulder massage as well as hand and foot treatments — all at the same time.

While the Elemis Travel Spa in Terminal 7 at John F. Kennedy International Airport offers complimentary massages only to British Airways' top-tier travelers, passengers will find pay-as-you-go services ranging from head, foot, leg, back and shoulder massages to manicures, pedicures and facials at the new XpresSpa in JetBlue's new Terminal 5. XpresSpa recently opened another branch at New York's LaGuardia Airport, bringing to 25 the number of airports in the United States, Mexico, and Europe with on-site XpresSpas, with eleven more branches set to open within the next six months.

Airport spas battle travel blahs

XpresSpa may be the largest airport spa chain, but it's certainly not the only one. The Jetsetter Mini Spa, with branches in Boston Logan and Miami International airports, offers chair and table massages, manicures, pedicures and facials. (The Miami branch also has a sleep pod for napping). The Massage Bar, which started seated massage services at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport back in 1993, now has branches in five other airports, including Dulles, Nashville, Newark, Sacramento, and Columbus, Ohio. In addition to heat therapy, foot massages and a variety of seated massage services, the Massage Bar offers happy hour discounts.

At the d_parture Spa, which operates two branches at Newark Liberty International Airport and one at Orlando International Airport, the menu includes hair and nail services, as well as waxing, chair and foot massages, and facials.

A full-range of massage services, plus ear candling, showers and oxygen sessions, are offered at OraOxygen's shops at the Detroit Wayne County International Airport and the Calgary International Airport. Oxygen treatments are also available at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, where there are three Oxygen Bar locations.

Even, Smarte Carte, the company best known for renting airport luggage carts, is getting in on the airport massage action. The company maintains self-service, automated massage chairs in about 30 airports, including Anchorage, Cincinnati, Dallas-Fort Worth, Reno and Pittsburgh.

In addition to the spas mentioned above, travelers with nails in need can also visit one of the thirteen airport locations of 10 Minute Manicure or stop in at one of the three airport locations (Seattle, Sacramento and Dulles) of butter LONDON, a nail salon with a non-toxic product line.

On their own

Folks in need of some gentle kneading at airports in Austin, Baltimore, Chicago and Denver are also in luck. Knot Anymore offers chair massages at Austin- Bergstrom International Airport; Destination Relaxation is at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport; the Back Rub Hub makes its home at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport; and A Massage provides services at Denver International Airport.

This list is by no means exhaustive. Poke around and at many airports you'll discover local vendors offering nail services, a massage therapist on duty in an airport barbershop, or a hotel at or near an airport with a full-service spa. For example, the pre-security Relax Station at Oregon's Portland International Airport offers hair care, massages and shoe-shines. And the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport has two branches of XpresSpa as well as an appointment-only spa on the top floor of the Grand Hyatt DFW, which is connected to International Terminal D. One of the DFW barbershops, Jet Cuts in Terminal B, also offers massages, manicure and pedicure services.

Don't forget the holidays

It's a good bet that if you travel a lot you know lots of other tensed-up travelers. So when you're sitting down to make up your holiday gift list this year, remember that most all the spas and vendors listed here will happily issue easy-to-carry gift certificates for products and services.

And while you're shopping, go ahead and get a little something for yourself. After all, traveling is never going to be stress-free.

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Harriet Baskas writes about travel etiquette for and is the author of the airport guidebook Stuck at the Airport and a blog of the same name.