As airports become busier, and traveller numbers increase, so airport lounges should be places where throngs of people are able to enjoy the experience of waiting for their flights, rather than spend the entire time concentrating on their destination. People have access to shops and restaurants which are familiar chains from the high street, and airports and airlines are becoming more attentive to the needs of passengers.
They realise that, even assuming flights are on time, passengers still spend upwards of an hour waiting for departure. If delays happen the waiting time can increase dramatically. It’s important that passengers are as happy, comfortable, and relaxed as possible while they wait.
Given that passengers can be seated for lengthy periods of time in an airport lounge, the seating needs to be comfortable and in good condition. Padding on seats means that passengers can sit for longer periods without experiencing discomfort. Providing storage space under seats is also a good idea as it enables people to store bags and small cases away, and clears floor space, creating a less cluttered environment for passengers to wait in.
Airports can opt for different forms of seating, depending on where in the airport it’s located. For instance, in social areas clusters of seating enable people to chat and generally socialise, meaning that they can be comfortable and entertained at the same time.
Many people are nervous when they fly. These nerves often worsen if passengers are kept waiting at the airport, especially if delays cause waiting times to increase. Airports such as Helsinki have taken this into account and created special relaxation areas for passengers. In Helsinki, people can try out a sleeping tube or silence chair before they fly. US airports, such as Dallas/Fort Worth International have set up nap centres where passengers can rent a place to sleep. It’s even possible to rent a space to sleep overnight, so travellers do not have to leave the airport and find a hotel to stay at.
Not everyone uses an airport to travel for pleasure, business travellers are a regular sight in departure lounges. They tend to use airports more than most people, so catering for them is important. Of course, people can conduct business while sitting on a normal seat in an airport cafe. However, airports such as Heathrow now provide workstations in their business centres. People can use the workstations to communicate with their office or send emails. It’s a way of extending work hours and improving productivity. Business travellers see this as a definite bonus.
It’s not just business travellers who want to be connected to their digital devices while travelling. We all use mobile electronics, and it can be a real nuisance not to have access; ask any parent who is travelling with a child who has a laptop which has just died. Charging stations are now being included in many waiting areas, so that passengers do not have to worry about losing battery power while they are travelling.
If passengers use mobile devices all the time, it makes sense for airlines and airports to make use of the opportunity to communicate with them. Traditionally, departure boards are used to display flight information in airports. This is not always convenient for passengers if they are not seated close to the boards; they have to keep walking over to the boards to check.
Some airports are now tweeting live departure information to passengers while some airlines push vital departure information to passengers’ mobile devices. Having this departure information to hand all of the time means that passengers are better able to relax, safe in the knowledge that they will not miss their flight.
When people travel, they want it to be an easy and pleasant experience. They expect to be comfortable and to have access to shops and places to eat. They also expect to be able to get online wherever they are. Airports and airlines need to do all that they can to ensure that passengers’ needs are met. They need to provide comfortable seating, to promote relaxation and to provide charging facilities, so that people can remain connected and productive throughout their stay at the airport. It’s a fact of life that airport waiting times are often longer than expected, so creating an area that is good enough to wait in is important.