Travel, Made Easier

Who Won the Book? The winner of  Monday’s give-away of The Right-Brain Business Plan is Barbara Storey! Congratulations, Barbara! Drop me an email and let me know your address and the book will be on its way.

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Travel a lot? Then you know the experience of being made into sausage–squeezed, pushed, moved along an assembly line, till you finally plop, encased in ennui, into your seat. It could be far easier. Some airports (Houston’s Bush, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Detroit) already look like shopping malls. But the mall makes us into sausage, too. Here are my suggestions:

1. Make the baggage X-ray ground-level. Most airport have people-image_security_linesmovers–flat escalators that move you through the airport straightaways faster than you can walk. Use the same technology to keep passengers from lifting their suitcases, laptop bags, and shoes. The technicians can either be in pits (like a racing car team), or the machines can be lowered. Attached bins keep your wet shoes from dripping on your scarf and coat lining.

2. Color-code your ticket to the terminal. Many airports don’t label the terminal–the signs have numbers corresponding to airlines, but at the last minute, they abandon the terminal numbering system and leave you looking for small door signs. If you are changing planes, you often don’t know what terminal you are in. Color-coded signage would be useful. Color-coding your ticket (particularly the ones on your phone) would make it a lot easier to move through the airport.

airport-lines3. Signs over the jetway door tell you what section is currently boarding. The announcements just don’t work in the din of an airport, and the silly names for the special passenger orders (“All platinum, gold, silver, titanium, aluminum and plastic cardholders are now encouraged to board”) are not informative, just confusing.

4. Place big, overhead signage close to baggage claim. The signs would show the city you left from, the flight number, and what carousel your luggage will be on. These signs should be overhead as you go down the escalator to baggage claim.

5. All exit doors are numbered for easy identification. If there is a North side and a South side (as there is in Phoenix) all North doors are even numbers, all South doors are odd numbers. These numbers would be color coded so you know what terminal you are leaving. That way, instructions for catching a taxi, hotel van, or rental car bus would be much easier to follow.

A%2B+Best+web+image-+Albany+Airport+Food+Court41-rectangle-z0-w750-h5506. Create an app that shows what food is available at each gate. The same app would show how far you are from your gate as you move through the airport.  Do I eat in Terminal C on my way to Terminal E? Will I find something diabetic-friendly at the gate I’m heading toward? Often I see a nice restaurant, but I have no idea how long it will take me to get to my gate. I don’t want to risk stopping for food if it means missing the plane. But when I get to my gate, the only food available is fried, salted carbs. Backtracking is too time consuming.

7. Make toilet stalls big enough to accommodate luggage. No one wants to leave luggage unattended, but the stalls in airports are smaller than stalls at theaters, where you have a purse, but no luggage. Getting your roll-around into the stall and fitting in yourself is often like a game of human Tetris.

What changes would make travel easier for you? Doesn’t have to be an airport. What would make your subway, metro, freeway experience better?

-Quinn McDonald travels a lot. She’s pretty sure airport designers do not.