By Wendy Hageman, CID, LEED AP, DBIA, and John Trupiano, Corgan, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP
We live in a world of abundant conveniences. As time goes on, technological advancements will continue to provide us with more simplicity and luxury. For airports, this means keeping up with the changes and attempting to provide the public with the experiences they have come to expect.
The concept of convenience is subjective. This is the issue when determining the features that matter most to airport travelers. Some desire shorter lines or the ease of exiting a flight, picking up their bags and getting to the curb for pickup. For others, airport convenience begins in the parking lot, relying on airport ground transportation to bring them to the terminal.
Part of the trouble in attempting to define convenience within the confines of public transportation is technology's effect on the public's perception of travel. Smart devices create instant gratification, causing airport travelers to expect the same results — to be where they need to be immediately. Because of this, airports must be prepared to provide conveniences that cater to this perception, implementing solutions that accommodate frequent travelers and those who only travel once a year.
Discussed more on page 10, biometric technology is making the check-in, baggage drop and security processes more bearable for passengers.
Connecting to a passenger’s profile and the airport's Wi-Fi, wearable technology provides real-time updates on gate locations, distances and wait times.
Offering surprisingly simple conveniences, such as a variety of seating options and entertainment, allows passengers to feel more at home in the terminal.
Many airports have been in operation for more than 50 years, adapting outdated designs to function in the new high-security environment. This often means drastically altering spaces to accommodate the needs of a modern airport, giving the impression of convenience — short walking distance from entrance to gate and perceived shorter wait times — but the reality is an airport that is inconvenient and insecure in many fundamental ways.
Considering this, airports should aim to provide continued convenience to their passengers, rethinking the flexibility of old spaces. Such an approach will prepare airports for changes in technology, aircraft, passenger expectations and future capacity forecasts.