Skift Take

The travel industry is trying to offer more wellness-related services, so it’s no surprise that airlines and airports want in. But whether they can really make the flying experience more relaxing is another story.

The Skift Wellness newsletter is our  weekly dispatch focused on what’s happening in wellness from a global business standpoint. Skift Wellness lives where wellness meets commerce, mindfulness meets technology, the yoga studio meets the boardroom, and health meets business.

Ahh, the airport. Everyone’s favorite place to kick back and relax. Nope. For most people, airports are mostly sources of stress, anxiety, and frustration.

So when airlines and airports announce they’re taking strides to improve the well-being of their passengers, it sounds almost comical — especially in today’s era of air travel, when leg room is getting tighter, baggage fees are getting higher, and security is getting even more intense.

Still, that hasn’t stopped airlines such as Virgin Atlantic and American Airlines from partnering with apps like Headspace and Calm, which offer meditation content on the off chance you might be able to unwind after takeoff.

Others, such as Singapore Airlines, are trying to revamp their food and offer healthier fare — no frozen lasagna here. Airports themselves are getting wellness makeovers too, with relaxation pods and lactation rooms coming to a terminal near you.

The real question is if any of this investment is worth it. Will passengers truly feel calm after listening to a five-minute guided meditation when all they can really focus on is whether they’ll catch their connecting flight? And will airlines make changes that help the economy traveler, or will most of this only cater to the first and business classes?

Check out my story below as we start to post our own original Skift stories about wellness in travel.

In other relaxation news, Esqapes Immersive Relaxation aims to replicate the spa experience with a virtual reality headset. But can it really make people feel like they’re at a beachside cabana if they’re actually in a strip mall? Unlikely.

As more companies try to help consumers feel well, we’ll have to see if their initiatives really make an impact, or if they’re mostly just hoping for positive press.

For feedback or news tips, reach out via email at [email protected] or tweet me @lesliebarrie.

— Leslie Barrie, Wellness Editor


Can Wellness Find Its Way Into the Cramped Confines of Economy Class? There’s nowhere to go but up when it comes to the wellness services that airlines and airports offer passengers — and thankfully, companies are exploring new ideas, from healthy food and meditation apps to calming podcasts. If they’re able to make the experience even slightly less chaotic and anxiety-filled, passengers may take note and book with them again. Read more here.

Beauty & Spa

Virtual Reality Brings Customers to the Day Spa: If you can’t make it to a seaside spa, perhaps a virtual reality experience will do? That’s what the founders of the new virtual reality company Esqapes Immersive Relaxation are banking on. For a steep price, guests get whisked away — digitally, that is — to a beach, garden, or snowy cabin while sitting in a massage chair. What they don’t get? Vacation bragging rights. Read more here.

Mind & body

WW Causes Outrage by Acquiring Healthy Eating App for Kids: File this under “bad idea.” WW (formerly Weight Watchers) purchased Kurbo Health, an app designed to help children eat healthier and end childhood obesity. Many — rightly so — see it as a children’s diet app that could lead to seriously disordered eating. The company has already faced a rough year from a financial standpoint, and this PR nightmare probably won’t help matters. Read more here.


Flywheel Closes Some Studios, Signaling Struggles Ahead: You might think that Flywheel Sports would rejoice after the recent SoulCycle backlash, but instead it’s closing a quarter of its locations, including all four in Los Angeles and sites in Austin and the San Francisco area. The shuttering is likely due to the growing popularity of Peloton and an already crowded cycling space. Closures could also signal an end to, or at least a slowdown of, the boutique spin craze. Read more here.

Equinox Owner Raises $13 Million for Trump Reelection: The public outcry didn’t stop SoulCycle owner Stephen Ross from hosting a reelection fundraiser for President Donald Trump. In fact, the 500-person event in Bridgehampton, New York, raised $13 million while protests took place outside of the Equinox and SoulCycle locations in West Hollywood. It’s too soon to tell what impact the fallout will have, but judging by the bad press, it could be major. Read more here.

Skift Wellness Editor Leslie Barrie [[email protected]] curates the Skift Wellness newsletter. Skift emails the newsletter every Thursday.


The Daily Newsletter

Our daily coverage of the global travel industry. Written by editors and analysts from across Skift’s brands.

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Tags: airlines, airports, Equinox, permanxiety, Skift Wellness, virtual reality, wellness

Photo credit: A view of London is shown. Airlines and airports are taking strides to improve the well-being of their passengers. @fouldsmatt / Unsplash

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