We can handle taking off our shoes, getting our bags searched, and even giving involuntary peep shows to the dudes operating the full-body scanners. But the thing that really drives us bonkers about airport security nowadays is that we can't step outside for two seconds to catch a breath of fresh air. Lucky for us, the Netherlands has created the next best thing: an airport terminal that ushers the outdoors in.
Passengers beyond passport check at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport can now kick back at "Airport Park," a wacky, artificial landscape, complete with ivy-covered furniture, live trees (including one that's more than 100 years old), virtual butterflies projected onto the ground, and relaxing 'animal sounds' piped into the air. (Though are animal sounds relaxing? We'll assume they left out the "lion rips zebra to shreds" track.) Instead of gross airport food, the park has a cafe that sells organic food and fair trade coffee. And instead of standard recharge stations, the place features energy-generating stationary bikes that passengers can hop on to juice up their phones. The best part: There's an actual outdoor terrace. Fresh air, oh joy!
All of which is supposed to feel like a great big Xanax for weary travelers. According to Schiphol's press release: "Airport Park aims to mirror the peace and serenity... city parks provide amidst the hustle and bustle of their metropolitan environment."
That might be a bit of an overstatement. The place still looks more like a theme park than the next Central Park. But it sure is nice to see an airport try to introduce a humane environment into what's otherwise a thoroughly inhumane experience. Here's hoping the TSA is taking notes.