SFO to offer travelers a chance to freshen up

For travelers at San Francisco International Airport, life is about to become less sweaty.

In addition to the airport’s two full service spas and luxury shopping, a shower service has been resurrected to serve the everyman at $11 a pop. While those traveling business or first class often have access to swanky airline lounge showers, “everyone needs to not be sweaty and stinky,” Airport Travel Agency manager Carol Feiner said.

It also will sell the essentials of feeling civilized after a long flight: clean underwear and toothpaste.

Feiner says she hopes to reopen the three-shower facility in the International Terminal byAug. 1. The facility was shuttered nine months ago after the hair salon that ran it moved to smaller digs in another part of the airport.

While the standard service buys the traveler a private room, towel and bar of soap, “we hope to have a little upgraded package with nice shampoos and towels — but that’s still in the planning stages,” Feiner said.

But not everyone thinks showering and flying are natural companions. Waiting at SFO on Tuesday, 32-year-old Baldev Sarin said he would feel funny scrubbing down in the terminal.

“I don’t think I’d want to do that,” the Menlo Park resident said. “Too many people coming through the airport. I wouldn’t think it was clean.”

Airport Travel Agency will run the service on a six-month trial basis from the north shoulder of the International Terminal, though it’s open to domestic travelers as well. Feiner said she has been inundated with requests to reopen the showers.

“One guy came in after a 36-hour hike and had to get on a plane,” she said. “Other people have been on 16-hour flights and need to go right to a business meeting.”

Kandace Bender, SFO’s deputy director of marketing and communications, said the showers are just one of a handful of services designed to make international travelers feel more comfortable at the airport, including live musicians and airport ambassadors.

“Ninety-nine percent of all the international flights in the Bay Area come out of San Francisco,” she said. “They’re starting their journey here, and we want to make it worthwhile.”

By the numbers

How much travelers spent at San Francisco International Airport in 2007.

26,354,276: Departing and arriving domestic passengers

8,962,965: Departing and arriving international passengers

$85,913,866: Retail sales (newsstands, gift shops, etc.)

$116,454,817: Food and beverage sales

$6.58: Average amount departing passengers spent on food and drinks

$4.86: Average amount departing passengers spent at retail stores

tbarak@sfexaminer.com

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