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From flight changes and the seemingly endless crowds of people, airports can be pretty hectic. Fortunately, there are ways to ease the stress and tension of traveling, one of the lesser-known ones being a visit to the airport chapel.
Yes, there are actual chapels in airports—and believe it or not, they’ve been around for quite some time. In fact, there’s a good chance you’ve been to one or more of the airports that have one. Since Our Lady of the Airways opened in 1951 at Boston’s Logan International Airport, the rest of the major airports around the nation started catching on.
Surprisingly, the first airport chapels weren’t intended for their fliers. Rather, the areas of prayer and worship were established by Catholic leaders for the airport staff, Smithsonianmag.com reports. This way, parishioners could still attend mass. Four years later, Idlewild (now known as John F. Kennedy Airport in New York) constructed the second Catholic airport chapel, Our Lady of the Skies, and later added a Protestant chapel and a synagogue. Airports in Atlanta and Dallas were the next to welcomed their share of Protestant chapels. By the turn of the 21st century, more and more single-faith chapels began to convert into interfaith chapels.
Today, more than half of the U.S.’ “large hubs” (airports that cater to 1 percent or more of the nation’s annual passenger boardings) now offer one or more chapels for their busy fliers and staff, the Pew Research Center found. The majority of large hubs offer an interfaith chapel, but others continue to offer specific religious services. In fact, JFK, Washington Dulles International, and Ronald Reagan Washington National all offer a Catholic chapel, a Protestant chapel, a mosque, and a synagogue.
Chapels aren’t the only surprising amenity that airports offer, though. Check out these gorgeous airport pools you should visit during your next layover.