5 Ways to Make the Airport a More Pleasant Place

[Note from the editor: This post was originally posted on NickLoper.com]

Airports should re-stake their claim as the most glamorous and interesting places we’ve invented. You’ve got people coming and going from all over the world, transported halfway around the globe in a matter of hours.

It’s the closest thing we have to a teleportation hub, and it should be awesome.

But more often it’s depressing.

Mired in bureaucracy and procedure, the inherent excitement is lost.

Here are 5 small ways to help.

1. Kill Noise Pollution

The airport is filled with unnecessary noise pollution. The building-wide announcement I would kill first:

The TSA has limited the items that can be transported through the security checkpoint…

First of all, 95% of the people hearing this are already PAST the security checkpoint. It’s irrelevant. And for the remaining 5%, they already know.

If you’re planning on carrying on that full tube of toothpaste, you lose. You’re already at the airport. It doesn’t matter.

And if you’re planning on carrying on a concealed weapon, you don’t care.

It’s pointless.

And the second building-wide announcement to die a much-belated death:

Unattended luggage is subject to search, inspection, and removal…

No one is leaving their stuff unattended (at least on purpose)! We don’t trust our fellow passengers enough to go to the drinking fountain without hauling our luggage with us.

And for the would-be suitcase bombers, they don’t care.

It’s pointless.

2. Streamline Security

We’ve invested millions (billions?) in improving airport security, but are we really any safer?

Let people keep their laptops in their bags.

Let people keep their shoes on.

Let people keeps their belts on.

Security is unnecessarily slow and de-humanizing. Fix it.

3. Improve the Waiting Area

Hook it up with the WiFi. SFO has this figured out.

Where are the outlets? There are like 2 power outlets for every 200 passengers and they’re nowhere near the seats.

Which brings us to the seats. When you have 100 seats for a 300 passenger plane, you can’t help but to have people “puppy guard” the gate.  They have no other option.

Then you tell them not to crowd the boarding area. Which leads to my next point.

4. Kill Boarding Anxiety

I understand this is more up to the individual airline than to the airport itself.

I’m admittedly a reluctant convert to the Southwest system of boarding. With every other airline though, you get people crowding the gate, eagerly awaiting their turn to board.

Jostling for position for no apparent reason. We’re all getting to the same place at the same time, right?

Bryn theory is it’s a competition for overhead bin space.

Southwest effectively kills this anxiety by assigning people a spot in line based on the time they checked in. Of course they’re not that egalitarian; if you want to pay them for cuts you can.

5. Quit Pretending a Kindle Can Crash a Place

Show me one documented instance of an electronic device causing any sort of problem, and I’ll be the first to admit I was wrong.

But in the meantime, what’s the point of pretending a cell phone or a Kindle or a Gameboy (or whatever kids these days play with) can bring down a plane?

Just like the joke goes, Al Qaeda went through an awful lot of unnecessary trouble if all they needed to do was leave their phone on.

So those are my 5 tips for making the airport a more pleasant place. What would you add?

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Nick Loper

Nick is an amateur swimmer, skier, business student, softball player, golfer, dog walker, mountain climber and Mariners fan. By day you can find him walking at his treadmill desk, blogging at nickloper.com, selling shoes, and helping people reclaim their time by hiring virtual assistants.

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  • Amen, Amen, Amen! Especially the constant noise of announcements. I would add this-why is it that airport chairs are designed so that it is impossible to rest your head and nap? Can’t they make a some high-backed chairs?