What is it that makes an airport pleasant to travel through? Having spent much of today traveling, I have pondered the airports that I am traveled in, and thought about ones in the past, in order to reflect upon elements that I have found to be consistent sources of trouble. There are certainly cases where airports may be situationally good but not good in general–such as the surprisingly pleasant experience in LAX of only having to move a gate or two between flights because the same airlines has contiguous space in an airport, even if Los Angeles is a horrific airport to travel through if one has to change airlines because of the massive distance involved in moving from one terminal to another.
In my previous trips to Phoenix, I have had somewhat various experiences, and my experience today was still more varied. The first time I traveled through Phoenix the airport was under construction and the experience involved a lot of hiking. The second time I was suffering from a massive gout attack and was being pushed on wheelchairs and being driven around and the main thing I noticed was the way that gates were often changed willy nilly without a lot of information provided from their airline. This time when I traveled through the airport was I noticed that like Orlando International Airport, there is a long distance between the international arrival area and the area where the domestic terminals are, although there are people movers and elevators that help out at least some of the way, and that one has to pass through security after having gone through customs, which is always a source of irritation for me no matter how much layover time I have in an airport.
My own measure of thinking is rather straightforward. I do not think that airports should be designed to have proliferating security, and that they should be designed in the following fashion: however many different places that one can pass through security on the outside of an airport, security should be managed in such a fashion that everyone who enters an airport should be able to get to any connecting flights without having to go through the process again. To do this would likely require that security is placed relatively close to the check-in process before the different terminals are split off, allowing passengers to travel via monorail or skyrail or whatever else they want to call it between terminals without leaving the secure zone of an airport. It does not appear why this should be so difficult for airports to manage, seeing as it is frequently the case that check-in occurs on its own floor in areas that already have limited access to floors above, and that connecting passengers typically remain on the same floors of an airport even as they change from terminal to terminal and walk across airports from one gate to another.
The benefits of this sort of design seem pretty obvious–it increases the area of what is a secure part of the airport and removes one of the main sources of delay and frustration for passengers in what is often a frustrating process of travel, as well as a great deal of wasted time in having to take off one’s shoes and belt and emptying one’s pockets and taking out laptops and cell phones and all of that extra times. The question is, why is it that airports seem to delight in creating modules of security that merely irritate already frustrated passengers and waste time? What is the benefit of such hostile design?