Last updated: 01:00 AM ET, Mon November 21 2016

TravelPulse 100 Best US Airports: Experts Give 5 Ways To Make Airports Better

Airlines & Airports Rich Thomaselli November 21, 2016

TravelPulse 100 Best US Airports: Experts Give 5 Ways To Make Airports Better

At any given point during the day, there are a half a million people in the air flying from Point A to Point B.

At any given point.

10:13 a.m.


4:30 p.m.

9:28 p.m.

At any given point.

Which means that there are a half a million people going through U.S. airports at any given moment. That’s a staggering number, that makes for some, very uncomfortable situations at some of the larger airports.

So how can airports make the experience better?

* Start with the trip in. “Ease of access and egress from off-airport to on-aircraft, and vice versa,” says New York-based aviation consultant Robert Mann of R.W. Mann & Co.

Example? Ever try getting to John F. Kennedy International Airport by car? And how about navigating from the parking lot to the terminals?

* Make families first. Speaking of which, Heathrow Airport in London has a brilliant program in place for families traveling with children.

Not only does the airport employ Airporters that helps families with children get from the parking garages to the terminal, but has traditionally made its play areas thematic and has gone as far as to have Christmas-themed security lines.

* Focus on the passenger, not the airport. According to airport consultancy DKMA, “great airports make sure that they keep their priorities straight and focus on what matters to passengers. When an airport starts focusing first on what matters to itself the passenger experience always suffers.

Signage is a good example of this as some airports consistently assign the best spots in the terminal to advertising even if this makes it more complicated for passengers to find their way around.”

* Off-site baggage tagging. According to Future Travel Experience, an independent events and online media business dedicated to improving the end-to-end passenger experience, at least two companies have developed solutions “that can be installed either in the terminal or offsite, and allow passengers to identify themselves using their boarding pass and then print out their bag tags.

So, in theory, a passenger who has checked in online could park their car in an airport car park, print and attach their bag tags and then simply drop off their bag when they reach the terminal.”

* Get the basics right. According to DKMA, “Before trying to be special, great airports make sure that they get the basics right. A spotlessly clean terminal and washrooms. Comfortable gate areas. Warm and friendly staff. Simple wayfinding.

Why are these the basics? Because every passenger sees and feels these aspects of the airport experience. These may not be what make an airport sexy but they are what make an airport great.”