NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Airline travel can involve unpleasant moments, from going through security to waiting out bad weather to watching thoughtless passengers with too much baggage.
One way airlines and airports can enhance the experience is by making terminals pleasant places to be.
These are multi-billion dollar projects that take many years, so they involve major bets on the economy. For airlines, it can be difficult to quantify the financial benefit, but it is easy to make the case that gorgeous terminals like American's (Stock Quote: AMR) Terminal Eight at New York's Kennedy Airport provide a competitive advantage, given that international travelers in the New York area have a broad array of choices.
Similarly, because it replaced an antiquated facility, JetBlue's (Stock Quote: JBLU) Terminal Five at JFK vastly eased baggage handling and passenger traffic flow, making the operation far more efficient.
Hub airports also complete with other airports for passengers who must connect, so Delta (Stock Quote: DAL) and United (Stock Quote: UAL) gain advantages from upgrades at Detroit and Houston.
Read on for our choices for the nation's four most beautiful airport terminals.