Last updated: 05:00 PM ET, Wed September 23 2015

United Removing Moving Walkways At O'Hare

Airlines & Airports | United Airlines | Rich Thomaselli | September 23, 2015

United Removing Moving Walkways At O'Hare

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

No more free rides at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

At least not in the United terminal.

United Airlines has begun the process of removing all eight moving walkways in Concourse C of Terminal 1 at O'Hare, according to the Chicago Tribune. The carrier believes the walkways — ubiquitous at airports all over the world — are no longer a convenience but a hindrance to passengers.

"The walkways in C inhibit passenger flow across the concourse,'' United spokesperson Luke Punzenberger told the Tribune. “Removing the walkways will make it easier for customers to move both lengthwise and across the width of the concourse.''

Half of the moving walkways in Concourse C have already been closed, the paper noted, and United said all eight will be removed by spring.

Part of it may be convenience. The moving walkways don’t move all that quickly — 1.4 miles per hour if you’re just standing on them, obviously faster depending on how swiftly you walk along them — and they sometimes can get congested thanks to the number of people using them, how quickly they walk, whether they are following the mantra of stand right/walk left, and more.

And part of the reasoning is financial. The Tribune said the removal of the walkways could free up space for more retail stores, or at least aid the current stores and restaurants in place. Think about it — how many times have you gotten on the moving walkway only to see a place to buy a magazine or grab a sandwich, but can’t do so until you get to the end of the moving walkway and turn around and walk back?

Seth Young, director of the Center for Aviation Studies at Ohio State University, also told the Tribune that the moving walkways can sometimes slow down travelers.

"A good number of folks — about one-third of all pedestrians — just stand there and travel the 1.4 mph speed of the belt,'' Young said. "And eventually the 'walkers' get backed up behind the 'standers' and slow down as well.' So overall, the speed of those on the belt is less than if the belt wasn't there.”

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