How to make airports more efficient

You stare at your watch.

Why didn’t I leave earlier?

This car can’t go fast enough.

You make a quick internal calculation. If I sprint rather than walk from my car to the shuttle bus, I might save one minute.

Wait. What if there’s no shuttle bus there?

One airport can make a minor change to make our lives easier.

Oh, brother; this is going to be cutting it close. Why did I keep hitting the snooze button?

The frenetic race from car to runway is one that many of us have endured. It’s an episode that introduces stress, panic and accelerated heart rates.

So why are airports doing something to worsen this process? It’s their signs: obtuse rather than helpful.

As you speed to the airport, you are greeted with two overhead signage options if you are dropping someone off or picking them up:

  1. Ticketing Curb – Checkin
  2. Passenger Pick up – Baggage Claim

Wouldn’t an image of a plane landing or a plane taking off be more straightforward?

Or the common: Arrivals and Departures?

Why make me think more than I need to during a potentially harried time?

I love airports. I find it fascinating, mesmerizing to wonder where people are going and why they are going there. I’ve had some of the most interesting conversations with people that I’ve met in airports.

Airports, however, are a place where loved ones leave their mates. Children fly off without their parents. Job seekers nervously interview at places far away from home. These are separation moments filled with anxiety, tension.

Sure, it’s a small thing to change a sign. What will it matter? Focusing on the small things will yield big things. A change here, a tweak there, and voila: a tireless focus on the customer.

Meet the customer where he or she is: tired, busy, overworked. Show them pictures to communicate messages in the simplest of terms.

And try to get to the airport just a few minutes earlier next time!

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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