Friday, March 24, 2006

The Perfect Airport 

USA Today has an artcicle today: Piecing together the perfect airport - 10 amenities every terminal should have. I consider this list interesting, because I agree and disagree:

Here the proposed amenties, in order:

1.Live Music
2.Rocking chairs
3.Wine bars
4.Art galleries
5.Napping pods
6.Free wireless Internet
7.Laptop chargers
8.Day spas
10.Convenience stores

Since I basically consider an airport as a place I want to leave as soon as possible and if I have to wait I want to have it as quiet and relaxing as possible, I do not need live music. Rocking chairs, napping pods, wine bars, art gallieries and day spas are nice to have, but I consider them not important. Instead of booties I would it consider better not to be required to put my shoes off at security, and have instead a baggie to put the metal items in (as some do).

I agree with free wireless Internet, of course and also power outlets. It is really funny to see women in business dress sit on the floor beside the men's toilet because there is the only power outlet of the terminal.

Convenience stores are very useful (Vienna Airport has one, although somewhat hidden under the arival hall and now moved somewhere else because the termial is rebuilt).

But what I consider top priority for an airport is no delays, no lost luggage and short (or fast) access to the gates, especially if you change planes. Especially large and new built airports have walking times up to and over 20 minutus from the central lounge to the gates. I have no problem walking this distances, particularly after a long flight, but if you have to change planes and a stopover of one hour, 40 minutes simple walking time is a problem, especially if you have a delay.

Here I come to another issue I have with changing planes: arrival time (and the stopover time calculated from this) is given by touch-down time. At least all pilot of all airlines brag about being on-time if they touchdown at arrival time. Given that they then taxi around on some airports for 10 to 20 minutes, then have eventually to wait for a gate, then another 10 minutes until the doors open and if you are at the end of the plane, you have to wait 10-15 minutes until your fellow passengers get their act together (depending on nationality), you may end up with 30 to 40 minutes until you are at your arrival gate after touch-down. Add now 30 minutes time finding your way on a foreign airport and walk, you will have a problem.

I therefore request airlines in future to define arrival time = my arrival time at the gate.

BTW, with railways the arrival time say in Vienna is also the stop at the main station and not crossing the city borders (although this is only 10 minutes and would improve timeliness of the Austrian Railway substantially)

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