Airport (n.) A large building designed to be as inconvenient and unpleasant as possible for passengers departing on, or arriving from, aircraft.
The modern air travel experience has been described as "a bunch of tired, frustrated, and hungry people fighting it out over a handful of power sockets". It is notable how the modern air travel experience resembles a low-grade torture facility. The victims, also called "pax", are stripped of their personal dignity through a series of searches "for their own security". They are removed from contact with the outside world, often for hours. All communications, entertainment, leisure, and comfort are removed from common spaces, so that "VIP Lounges" can sell these back to "business class travelers" at a premium. Some airports have successfully combined the ersatz comforts of a shopping mall with the mechanical business of processing pax, but most rely on shock and awe to keep the pax under control and compliantly close to the gate.
It would be relatively simple to make airports even pleasant places to travel in: free wi-fi and free Internet kiosks; comfortable seats to relax or doze in; SMS alarms for boarding; better design in which walking distances are minimized; pleasant seating areas decorated with plants and separators; more and cheaper food and drink; television areas; areas for children to play; many more power sockets; proper shops with decent choices; sports facilities with swimming pool, roller rink, shooting stand, and ping-pong tables.
Airports are a classic example of planning based on irrational expectations of growth. Just as countries around the world replace older, less shiny airports with new glass and metal behemoths, oil starts to run out and the global air travel industry collapses.