Very, very little of airport designs are arbitrary. Everything, from the floors to even empty space, serves a deeper purpose by playing at your subconscious.
Airport walkways are usually curved to the left. Why? Most of us are right-handed, which means two things: we pull our suitcases with our right hand, and will involuntarily walk to the left – into the shops – because of the weight imbalance; we also look to the right – again, into the shops along the right-hand side corridor – more often.
NEXT: Strategically-placed shops →
And it’s no surprise that the first shop you see after the hassle of clearing the customs and getting through security is usually the duty-free shop. After that huge weight is lifted off your shoulder, you feel invincible! Of course you deserve a designer perfume. Plus, it’s tax-free. This enticing factor is a play on your feeling of empowerment to get you to spend, spend, spend.
NEXT: Wayfinding →
They’re just signs, right? Wrong. You might not notice it, but different signs adhere to different shapes or colour schemes to subliminally guide you in the right direction. Floor-to-ceiling windows, too, give you full view of the tarmac, where the planes are waiting. In design lingo, it’s called “wayfinding” – a manner in which you’re subconsciously led to where you’re supposed to go.
NEXT: Easy readability →
According to research, every inch of letter height adds about 12 metres of viewing distance. So, a 5-inch font size means you’ll be able to read the signs from a good 60 metres away. Which lets you know where you’re headed right from the get-go. Imagine walking to one end of the terminal only to realize you’ve gone the wrong way, only having to walk back. Gah!
NEXT: Departures and arrivals →
You’ll find that in most airports, the departure hall is on the floor above arrivals. The reason is simple: Gravity. It’s much easier to move luggages downwards from the plane to the ground, rather than up to a higher floor.
NEXT: Spacious departure halls →
But that’s not the only reason. It’s likely you’ll spend more time in the departure hall than the arrival hall, and the liberty to extend upwards with higher ceilings create a sense of space, which improves mood. Oh, and did we mention relaxed, happy travelers spend an average of 7% more money in airports?
NEXT: Open-concept designs →
That said, airports in general are spacious with wide open spaces, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find obscure corners or tiny corridors. This way, everyone’s under the security cameras’ constant surveillance, as well as each other’s, making it hard for anyone with malicious intent to do something and not be spotted.
NEXT: Floors →
Designated waiting areas at airport lounges and departure gates are often carpeted to evoke feelings of relaxation. Conversely, more often than not, the walkways are concrete to subtly hint at a sense of purpose, so you walk along quickly without getting in the way of others.
NEXT: World-class facilities →
Of the many things we can be proud of, our Changi Airport is one of them. It’s got themed gardens, a movie theatre, interactive exhibitions… All designed to make you want to spend more time around the airport before boarding your flight. It’s fun for you, but it’s also great for them – one study found that just one more hour at the airport equates to around $7 more spent per passenger.
NEXT: Single queues →
Geez, if they could just open up one more queue, they’d get things done so much quicker. Ever get annoyed waiting in a ridiculously long line of impatient passengers? Apparently, that might stress you out even more, as you always think the queue you’re not in is moving quicker, whereas implementing a one-queue system creates a perceived sense of fairness, even if it means you take slightly longer to board the plane.
NEXT: Curved walkways →
By Pinky Chng, July 2017
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