Yoga at O'Hare or retail therapy at Dulles: Airports tackle stress

Special to The Times

WITH about 72 hours to go, it's time to sharpen those elbows and get ready to jockey for position in the airport security line.

You'll have plenty of company if you take to the skies for Thanksgiving travel this year, according to American Automobile Assn. forecasts. About 4.6 million Americans are expected to fly this holiday, an increase of about 1% from last year.

Here's a take-along guide for finding some relief at major airports:

* Atlanta: You can pray, meditate or just relax in the solitude of the Interfaith Airport Chapel in the Atrium behind the banking center at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The decor is heavenly, with light aqua walls and plexiglass clouds making up a false ceiling. Open 24 hours daily.

* Chicago: In the middle of O'Hare Airport at the end of Terminal 2 is the Hilton Chicago O'Hare, which allows passengers, even if they are not hotel guests, access to its health club, including lockers, towels and showers. Non-hotel guests pay $10 for an all-day pass. The club is open 4:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 4:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Full-body massages cost $40 for half an hour. (773) 601-1723.

In Terminal 3 there's the Backrub Hub, open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. For a chair massage, a 10-minute session is $13.50; a 30-minute session is $33. Walk-ins. (773) 601-0630.

* Denver: At Denver Stapleton International Airport, A Haircut, A Massage and A Massage II (on the B concourse, in the main terminal, and on the B concourse, respectively) can fix you up with a haircut, waxing, shave, hand massage, foot massage, chair massage (back and upper shoulder and neck muscles) and table massage (full body, clothed or unclothed). Prices vary. A one-hour full-body table massage costs $66. Hours vary. Walk-ins only. A Haircut, (303) 317-1020; A Massage, (303) 342-7485; and A Massage II, (303) 317-0185.

* New York: At JFK Airport, the Ramada Plaza Hotel at the airport entrance has a health club, but it is only for hotel guests. (718) 995-9000.

* St. Louis: At Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, massage services from A Backrub Co. have recently expanded, with three airport locations: one in the hallway between B and C concourses; one in A concourse by the A-17 Gate; one in the East Terminal. Massages last 10 to 30 minutes and cost $15 to $32. Foot rubs are $22 for 15 minutes or, when on special, $10 for 10 minutes. Hours vary. Walk-ins. (314) 427-5110 (the store between B and C) or (314) 426-5810 for information on the stores in the East Terminal and at A-17.

* San Francisco: Stuck at San Francisco International and feeling gritty? The SFO Hairport is a hair salon that also sells hot showers; three private rooms are available. For $11, you get soap, shampoo, hot water, towels and a blow dryer. In the international terminal on the departure level, before the security area. Walk-ins only. Open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. (650) 876-1741.

* Washington, D.C.: Brookstone, which sells furniture, gadgets and gifts, displays massage chairs in its stores at Ronald Reagan Washington National and Washington Dulles International and doesn't mind if stressed-out passengers sit a spell. At National, the store is between A and B terminals and open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekends. (703) 418-1023. At Dulles, Brookstone is in the B terminal and is open 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily. (703) 661-0733.

Healthy Traveler appears every other week. Kathleen Doheny can be reached at kathleen

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