In recent weeks, I’ve been to more airports than I can remember. I’ve been covering election season politics, which means I’ve traveled to Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Colorado, Nevada, Georgia, and maybe a few others.
And during these travels I’ve noticed a curious trend: rocking chairs in airports.
The first time I noticed rocking chairs in an airport was in Charlotte, where they were scattered throughout the terminal.
Not long after that, I discovered that rocking chairs had also popped up at Jacksonville’s airport.
And then on a layover in Boston, I saw the same thing:
In journalism there’s a saying/cliche that three of anything makes a trend, so when I saw those last chairs I began to realize something was up. I’ve since seen rocking chairs at a few other airports, and Laura — who visits even more airports than I do — said she’s noticed the same thing.
It turns out the trend has been building for quite some time now. According to the Verge, it began in 1997 at Charlotte Douglas International Airport (coincidentally where I first noticed the rockers). By 2014, they had spread to about 40 airports and (at least some of them) come from Troutman Chairs, which the Verge describes as the “de facto supplier of airport rocking chairs.” The chairs themselves are called Kennedy Rockers — so named because JFK used them to alleviate back pain.
Rocking chairs in airports make a lot of sense. They’re relatively comfortable, easy to instal and move around, and have a kind of calming effect for many of us — something that’s nice in the stressful environment of an airport.
It’ll also be interesting to see how these chairs spread. Though the rockers have spread prolifically, there are still plenty of airports that don’t have them. Perhaps in the future that’ll change and we’ll be able to tell our grandchildren about how we remember travel in the era before airport rocking chairs.
— Jim Dalrymple II