What makes an airline terminal awful?  What makes it great?  Patrick Smith writes a column called Ask the Pilot for Salon, and he polled his readers to find out.  He began with memories of Terminal 3 at JFK, where as a lad he embarked on a trip. Delta is the current owner of this decrepid terminal, which has been voted one of the all time dingiest and worst.  It is going to be renovated, so in this light, here are some of the things he found his traveling readers want.   Here are some highlights:

Free Wi-Fi. Boy I love flying out of Bradley because I can get my email, and even with delays I’m happy on my laptop. If airlines would follow JetBlue and just give it away, they could put ads on it and pacify us flyers.

Convenience stores.  Why not ask 7-11 to open up in an airport? We need that stuff, like notebooks, combs and a huge rack of toiletries…how about cheap sunscreen instead of overpriced luggage stores?

A Kids Play Area  Now this is a great idea. Why not create a fenced in area with one of those pits with styrofoam balls in it, or a little swingset and a slide? Why not make it fun for little kids and delight their parents too? Why not?

Showers and by-the-hour hotel rooms  Here’s another idea that the readers suggest that I’d jump on if I were Marriott or Motel6.  You should be able to buy a few hours of time and a shower for those long layovers. I got a hotel room at LAX but had to pay for an entire night.  Why not allow people to pay by the hour?

A Place to Mail letters.  Hey the USPS is always looking for more revenue, how about a few branch post offices right in the terminals?  People love sending their postcards and mailing back those big bottles that they can’t bring in their carry-on, right?

A Quiet Area   In Tehran’s Khomeini International and other Iranian airports, I saw prayer rooms with comfy matts and a sign directing people toward Mecca.  Why not put in a similar room for people who just want some peace and quiet away from ringing cellphones, CNN on TV and airport announcements. I feel mellow just thinking about it!