Joy on the Jetway: How Traveler Comfort is Evolving

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If you find yourself kicking off this holiday travel season in the security lines of many of the United States’ airports, your 21st century travel experience might feel downright last century.

You’re not alone in feeling this way.

Over the last several years, industry conversations say the US airport system is overstressed and underfunded. It is also struggling to keep pace with the growing number of travelers in America, as well as the record growth of international travelers.

Increasingly, like many other forms of mass transit, airports are working hard to raise the bar on customer service without compromising the integrity of safety and reliability of the national aviation infrastructure.

In the upcoming years, we will likely see more and more creative partnerships between airports and their private sector partners to improve the customer experience, enhance overall airport functionality and simply inject a little bit of fun and personality into the airport experience.

In the battle for the hearts and wallets of air travelers, designers have been enlisted to solve everything from nifty self-service kiosks to pre-ordering smartphone apps with airport concessionaires.

RMU2Airports in the United States that are not in the process of modernizing their passenger terminals are scrutinizing every square inch of their existing terminals to elevate the travel experience. From the moment you enter the airport roadway to the moment you enter the jetway, airport operators are exploring every viable option to make the journey an incredible one.

At Populous, we’ve been collaborating over the last two years with airport operators, air carriers and vendors to meet the challenge of doing more within our means at airports around the country. In many of our client meetings, we are witnessing a change in the way operators are re-imagining dwell time productivity in the airport gate hold room spaces.

From portable kiosks that deliver last minute miscellaneous items or light food and beverage to the gate, to the outright removal of seating and replacement with generous work table solutions that are equipped with iPads to expedite food orders and service requests, we have clearly come a long way since the days of coin-operated TVs in airport seating.

In the quest to continue improving the passenger experience at gate hold rooms across the country and around the world, Populous’ aviation and product design team have developed a seating concept intended to maximize comfort, flexibility and productivity for the individual traveler. Our FLIP seating concept was awarded first place in the bi-annual 2016 Airport Design Challenge sponsored by Passenger Terminal World Magazine. As part of the competition, Dubai Airport Company intends to install prototypes of the first FLIP seating units in the newly completed Concourse D at Dubai International Airport.

This award is just the beginning of our pursuit to fundamentally transform the airport traveler experience. As planners and designers, we focus on every touchpoint from doorway to jetway and back again to bring unique memories to life through experiential and authentic design solutions. This results in enhanced revenue streams, operational efficiency and satisfied passengers.



Derrick Choi leads Populous’ aviation efforts with 15 years of experience in complex public infrastructure and transport planning. To continue the discussion on the airport experience or learn more about Populous’ FLIP seating concept, contact Derrick.

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