Friday, February 13, 2009

15 things airports should have

For some reason I love this kind of list: an industry specialist outlining 15 things that most American airports get wrong. Maybe I just love envisioning an airport that would have all of them. It doesn't hurt that airlines and airports seem to be among the most counterintuitive, quirkily run institutions in the country. In any case, it seems like there are a number of commercial institutions that still operate as if it's 1950, and could use some rethinking (ahem, *movie theaters*).

The first one:
1. A fast, efficient, low-cost public transportation link to downtown

Yeah, ya think? We usually use the Chicago airports when we fly, both of which have El stops in the airport. On the average 4-6 day long trip, those train stops save us about $80 in parking and gas, since we don't have to drive to the airport and leave the car parked there. That's also less car traffic at the airport, fewer occupied parking spots, more money for the Chicago Transit Authority, and less carbon emissions.

Meanwhile, in New York City, the home of the subway, the birthplace of public transportation, one of the major airports (LaGuardia) is served by a single bus route. And the buses don't have maps on the walls or comprehensible speaker systems, so you have to know which intersection the subway station is at, and what the area right before it looks like because you won't see or hear it coming. Great idea, New York.

There are a bunch of other great ideas, too, like free Wi-fi. I had no idea airports didn't already offer this, and I can't believe they don't. Jesus, even McDonald's offers free wi-fi nowadays! Also convenience stores, more seating, a quiet area, and a short-stay hotel where people could even just grab a shower before they leave. And yes, I agree, turn off the damn CNN. It's another loud voice yelling at us, it's distracting, and airports should be looking for things that calm people down rather than stress them out or rile them up. CNN is, uh, not the answer.

My personal advice? Think about an aesthetic other than "stainless steel and round like in the Jetsons." It's ugly and it evokes all the negative imagery and themes of science fiction.


TioChuy said...

Yeah I really miss USO's. They have these not so secret cubby holes for military travelers where you can: get a free book, a light meal, a bunk bed with a wakeup call, catch a flick on a big screen, grab a free coffee, get a quick shave (with a free razor and some shave cream) (maybe a shower in some, I never took one) and no CNN (we were usually participating in the stuff that would make others anxious anyway)

TioChuy said...
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Anonymous said...


One of my favorite things about the Dublin airport isn't the airport at all, it's the Aircoach that runs every 10 minutes or so, 7 euro straight through city center to the south side. You desperately need something that easy on the other side of a flight, long or short.

And as for power ports, it is positively shocking that the gate I usually leave from at O'Hare has only three or four, placed in areas where you have to sit on the floor to charge your phone or laptop.

el ranchero said...

Thanks, Grims. Can't believe I forgot that.