thoughts in my own, personal opinion
eMail: ddanto@IMCCA.org Follow Industry News: @NJDavidD
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We REALLY Want At The Airport?”
I read another news story
this morning about
an airport that was “beautifying and modernizing” to improve the passenger
experience. I’ve written before about how
the airline industry has a culture of lying, but now we have to add airports to
the list of entities pretending to do work in the passengers’ interest as they
actually meet their greedy self-interest.
Just about every ‘improvement’ I’ve seen in every US airport I’ve been
to has been something I’d never ask for in a million years. The entire airline industry – including
airport management and planning authorities – seems to have no clue what we
frequent travelers actually want out of business travel. Believe me, a very expensive, sit-down, ‘farm-to-table’ restaurant doesn’t crack the top
100 on the list, much less the top 10. I
don’t know how the people in charge could be so out of touch, but here I am to
offer my thoughts about what’s needed (as a public service of course) so we can
close the gap.
pretty clear that the basic mission of the business traveler is completely
foreign to these airport planners. To be
crystal clear, when traveling, our whole mission is to get from the airport
entrance to the airplane seat as rapidly and hassle free as possible. We don’t like airports. No matter how many restaurants, stores or
pretty, electronic sculptures you put into them, we still won’t like
airports. The best you can shoot for is
minimizing the pain. The steps below
would be the best way to achieve that.
or minimize the obstacles that prevent us from getting into the airport in the
first place. There’s nothing more frustrating than
arriving at the airport road, seeing the entrance, then still being stuck in
your taxi for 5-10-15-20 or more minutes.
Get rid of the cones, barriers, double-parked police cars, construction
vehicles, etc. Make the path to the
departure entrance clear. Give $500
tickets to Lyft/Uber/Taxi drivers that try to pick-up arrivals at the departure
gate. Revoke the drivers’ license from
the drivers that drop off passengers in the middle of the bus or pass-through
lanes. Any non-emergency construction
that can’t be done between 11pm and 5am shouldn’t be done.
all the security check-points equal.
The TSA is inconsistent at too many airports. They “don’t offer pre-check” at some gates /
terminals / airlines in the same way that they do at others. Some checkpoints have separate entrances /
lanes, some have no separate lanes but then separate people mid-line, some have
nothing and will give you a laminated pass that permits you to keep your shoes
on. I realize this is more of an issue
with the TSA, but that is a big part of the airport experience. Airport managers should use the money they
wanted to spend on an electric piece of art to make the lanes wide enough to
accommodate a single standard. It’s
totally ridiculous for a passenger to pay to complete a full background check,
be approved as a trusted traveler, have that effort ‘recognized’ when entering Airport
‘A’ Terminal ‘X’, but then have that trusted status ignored/denied when
entering Airport ‘A” Terminal ‘Y.’
3. Let us
grab a quick, simple, PLAIN snack.
There was absolutely no reason to have ‘gone gourmet’ at most US
airports. I want a simple bag of
pretzels or chips, a standard bottle of water, maybe a sandwich. I don’t need twelve brands of gourmet water
to choose from. One, standard 16.9 ounce
bottle of water from a nationally known brand is just fine. You’re already charging me twenty times more
than that bottle of water should cost at a standard store, there’s no need to
have even more expensive brands of water available. I don’t need that and I don’t need a gourmet
brand of bagged snack that I’ve never heard of.
And then there’s those sandwiches – ugh!
DON’T put the condiments on them – just include them in the
package. SOME PEOPLE DON’T LIKE OR CAN’T
putting stuff in our way to the gate.
Whoever is in charge of all of the new pop-up stores, restaurants and
bars (the ones where you can buy stuff with cash or frequent flyer miles) seems
to have forgotten what airports are all about – getting from one place to
another rapidly and without hassle.
Sure, build restaurants, bars, or even spas and gyms to your hearts
content, but GET THEM THE HECK OUT OF OUR WAY!
All we usually want to do is get to the gate – sometimes in a huge hurry
– to catch a flight and/or connection.
These stupid pop-up stores and bars located in what used to be the
walkway create massive choke-points where people can’t pass through the
bottlenecks. If we’re stuck in a five
hour layover, don’t worry, we know how to find the restaurant or bar. But all that these new places make me want me
to do is rent a bulldozer to plow them down.
I’ll NEVER give them my money.
5. Let me
sit. Flying is exhausting. I’m usually either up earlier than I want to
be, or tired at the end of a long day, and just want to rest. How does anyone think it’s OK when the
aircraft has ~200 seats and the gate area has only 50 chairs…or less. What genius
building a bar in the middle of the walkway can’t figure that simple math
out? Just give us a place to sit and
wait out the inevitable delays (that
come in 15 minute increments as I’ve discussed before.)
6. If you’ve
built me a table, let me move the chair.
Some airports are adding high stools and long tables for us to use at
the gate – ostensibly to do work and/or plug in and charge. What a nice thought – something to help us be
productive and make the wait less useless – thank you. The problem with these however is that the
chairs don’t move. Maybe an 11 year old
can slide into the chair to sit, but a typical adult male in the US can’t
really do it. And, what if we want to
turn around and look at the gate – again, the chairs don’t move. (The ones
pictured here are an example, but many others have backs and side armrests and
are completely welded to the floor.)
Here’s another example of an airport facility designed and built by
7. Let me
connect. Airports nowadays should have either free WiFi, or at the very least, decent cellular coverage. Most have neither. I can’t tell you how many times I try to
connect to an airport’s WiFi signal and get little or
no bandwidth, or stupid restrictions about which pages I can go to and which I
can’t. If the airport doesn’t want to
have good WiFi, fine, but then it’s their obligation
to make sure there is decent coverage for mobile phones to connect. That doesn’t just happen by itself. The airport has to spend some money adding
components and infrastructure to make it work.
This is money that would be MUCH better spent than on silly artwork or a
bar that’s in my way going to the gate.
8. Let me
go to the bathroom and wash my face.
Finally, I would have hoped the need for decent bathrooms at an airport
would be obvious, but sadly, it’s clearly not.
These facilities are sometimes the first ones passengers can use after
flights of 5 hours, 10 hours, or even more.
There are some basic requirements a traveler should be able to
expect. For one, hot water would be
nice. After a 10+ hour flight, being
able to get a bit freshened-up kind-of requires that. And, to dry off your face, an
‘environmentally friendly’ hand blower is just not adequate (not
to mention it’s a confirmed health hazard.)
PLEASE provide some paper towels to dry faces, and more hygienically dry
our hands – but not the kind where you have to hold both sides of a paper towel
with wet hands and loudly curse as the now wet towel falls apart when you try
to pull it down. That design came straight
from hell – where all who choose it for bathroom installations will eventually
these needs would be obvious to anyone who has frequently traveled, so clearly,
the people designing and managing airports haven’t. For them it’s apparently a game of how much
money they can squeeze out of passengers that are trapped in their space. Hopefully these suggestions will open some
eyes for those in charge of the designs and projects. If not, they’ll have a special place reserved
for them next to the designer of the break-away paper towel dispensers.
This article was written by David Danto and
contains solely his own, personal opinions.
All image and links provided above as reference under prevailing
fair use statutes.