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Are We Focusing on the Wrong Airport Experiences? December 2, 2014

Posted by Peter Varhol in Uncategorized.
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Unlike many people, I enjoy traveling, especially by airplane. We have no other service that can get you to almost anywhere in the world within a day, and usually within a few hours.

Certainly there are some less-than-comfortable aspects of this process, but it’s generally just for a few hours, so it’s not usually onerous. And I am experienced enough so that I do some of the little things that make it easier. I am a Delta Platinum Medallion (for the next year anyway), and get to choose seats with better legroom, and board early. Thanks to a long term investment years ago, and a free offer by my bank, I have entry to many airport lounges.

I’ve experienced plenty of delays and cancellations for various reasons in my travels, and all I really need is help in rescheduling. If I get ready service, I can tolerate delays.

So I’m always interested when articles talk about the future of air travel, especially from the standpoint of the airports. This particular article talks about the future of airports. In this case, CNN Money talks about a prospective airport under early development in Mexico City.

Many say that the US has lagged in building major infrastructure such as airports. While it’s true that the US hasn’t built a major airport since Denver International (and before that DFW and IAD, back in the 1960s), many of the major cities are land-constrained, more so even than their counterparts in Europe.

And that’s not to say that major construction hasn’t been occurring – new runways in Atlanta, new terminal buildings in Detroit, Las Vegas, JFK, and much more. But it is true that some airports are emotionally depressing, including all of the NYC airports, Midway, O’Hare, and LAX, to choose a few. Some people don’t care for security lines, but it is a sign of the times.

But airports, even major international airports, aren’t intended to be destinations in and of themselves. If everything goes right, you shouldn’t be spending more than 3-4 hours total in airports, even when making connections. The goal shouldn’t be to build architecturally majestic shopping destinations, but rather to move people in and out quickly.

There are some really great new airports in the world. From all accounts, Hong Kong and Incheon look really nice. I’ve been to Zurich multiple times, and I think they have modernized very well. But that’s not really the purpose of an airport. Give me something that gets me in and out fast, and I will be happy with dour surroundings and limited shopping opportunities.

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