J.D. Power's Gaz applauds such moves. "It's smart for airports to think outside the box." But in an era when "time is the new currency, and all people want to do at airports is get in and out as quickly as possible," their missions are tougher than ever.
"When I ask people about their experiences in airports," says Gaz, "I don't hear a lot of advocates. But I do hear comments like, 'I'd rather sit in a dentist's chair for 45 minutes.'"
And for cost-conscious travelers, free booties and Wi-Fi go only so far.
In an effort to lower fares and attract more fliers, airports are spending millions to woo and promote low-cost carriers -- at the same time many older, so-called legacy airlines are using smaller aircraft and cutting unprofitable routes, thus reducing airport revenue from landing and passenger fees.
"By the end of this year, low-cost carriers will control an estimated 28% of the market, more than double since 2001," says airport consultant Loney. "That speaks volumes. For most passengers, fares count way ahead of free amenities and comfortable terminal seating."