Up until recently, airport boarding gates were crowded, noisy rows of uncomfortable seats, far from the nearest restaurant, restroom, or gift shop. And travelers who needed to work, or recharge phones or laptops had to fight for carpet space next to a power outlet. But airports across North America are now working hard to make boarding areas more comfortable, passenger-friendly, and even fun. 

A lot of airports have already added free Wi-Fi, and power poles, studded with outlets to charge multiple phones and computers. But some have gone further, and added cushy chairs with pullout footrests for napping, which are especially helpful when bad weather or other delays leave travelers stuck for hours. And some airports are adding bar-style seating, so passengers can put their bags under the table. That means, fewer people sprawling out, and more space for everyone. 

At LaGuardia Airport in New York, they’ve even installed free-to-use iPads. You can play games or surf the Internet. You can enter your flight number, and it’ll alert you if they’re starting to board.

And you can even get deliveries at the gate of everything from burgers to beer to a newspaper. That service alone has led to double-digit increases in food and beverage sales. And it’s especially helpful for single travelers who’d lose their seat if they got up to find food or information, or for parents traveling alone with kids, like one mom we read about who called the free iPads a lifesaver. She was able to keep all 4 of her kids entertained during a long layover, and get chicken fingers and fries for the whole family.