Every facet of the modern airport is designed with a goal in mind: to maximize efficiency, reduce problems, and to make you spend more money. Even the smallest detail is based on research to maximize these goals.
4. They herd you with art
That big sculpture in your terminal isn’t just there to look pretty. It’s another tool to help travelers navigate. “We like to use things like artwork as kind of placemakers that create points of reference through an airport terminal,” says [consulting firm executive Stanis] Smith. “For example, in Vancouver International Airport we have a spectacular 16-foot high sculpture at the center of the pre-security retail area. People say, ‘Meet you at the sculpture.’ It acts as a point of orientation.”
Art also serves to create a sense of place, transforming the airport from a sterile people-mover to a unique atmosphere where people want to spend time (and money!). In one survey, 56% of participants said “a more culturally sensitive and authentic experience tied to the location” is something they’d like to see more in airports by 2025.
5. They use carpeting
In many airports, the long walk from check-in to gate is paved in linoleum (or some other hard-surface). But you’ll notice that the gate waiting area is carpeted. This is an attempt to make holding areas more relaxing by giving them a soft, cozy feeling, like you might find in your own living room. Happy, relaxed travelers spend 7% more money on average on retail and 10% more on Duty Free items. And it doesn’t stop with a layer of carpeting. Yoga rooms, spas, and even airport therapy dogs are becoming more common as airports look for new ways to relax travelers and encourage spending.
There’s more about airport design, with a reason behind everything from the sign fonts to TSA chat, at mental_floss.