Are you heading to the airport? Make sure to wear comfortable shoes.
As travel returns, people are walking longer distances from the sidewalk to the gate—through Hudson News, Chanel and Estée Lauder duty-free, lounges, Auntie Anne’s, and Starbucks. And this is just the first stop. These days, your walk down the hallway seems never-ending.
“I just flew through the new LaGuardia Airport. It confirms my theory,” former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers recently said. notice. “The newer the station, the less convenient it is to use it because all the hiking trails are longer. I wonder why?”
Journeys at the airport have gotten worse since security changes were implemented after the attacks of September 11, 2001. More changes occurred during the pandemic. Larger planes – which means planes tend to be further apart for safe take-off and landing – have made journeys through the airport longer.
But it’s mostly because bigger is better for airport business, even if it’s a little tough on your feet. In Newark, Chicago, and airport terminals in other cities, moving walkways have been removed to make room for more shops and restaurants.
“You get to the gate and you’re exhausted,” said Henry Hartveldt, who covers the travel industry for Atmosphere Research Group. “You are increasingly dealing with airports designed for financial and safety goals. The traveler is lost in the dust.”
Many American airports were built during the mid-twentieth century, and massive expansion plans have been underway in the twenty-first century. New gate extensions and recent renovations have made the concourse longer.
After 9/11, security checkpoints were added to existing terminals and the terminals were essentially divided into two parts, increasing the space passengers needed to walk, said Alexander Thom, who leads the airport business in the US for design firm Stantec.
Airports have added more retail stands and concessions in terminals as airlines hold back on in-flight meals. He said this prompted airports to offer more amenities in their terminals that are not available on the plane.
Airports generate revenue in two main ways: Aviation revenue, such as airport fees charged by airlines for use of runways, taxiways, and parking lots. and non-aeronautical revenue – parking fees, car rentals, retail rentals, and advertising.
Airports are trying to increase the portion of non-air revenue they pull in. Operators have added more shops, restaurants and bars, especially as more commuters use mass transit, rideshare to airports and parking income decreases.
“People joke that airports today are shopping malls with planes parked outside,” Hartfeldt said. “If you look at the layout of the stations, a lot of the added space is dedicated to retail services.”
Planes are also getting bigger to cram more passengers on board – known as an “upgrade” – and airlines have grounded some of their smaller planes. United, for example, is replacing 200 smaller regional jets that carry about 50 passengers each.
Larger planes mean they have to be spaced farther apart on the tarmac.
“There’s a much better business case for the larger planes. This is pushing airlines to modernize their fleet,” said Wilson Rayfield, executive vice president of aviation at Gresham Smith, an architecture firm. “When you park 10 planes next to each other and they’re 75 feet tall, the That naturally translates to a much longer walk.”
Sprawling airports also cause trouble for crews and airport staff trying to take off flights on time.
Some airports have added electronic beacons that estimate to passengers the number of minutes it will take to reach their gate or how long it will take for the connecting monorails to arrive.
One of the longest airport rides in the United States is in Dallas-Fort Worth, where the distance from an entrance in Terminal B to Terminal E is 2.16 miles, according to Stady By the shoe company Kuru Footwear. (Fortunately, there is a train to the airport).
Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix has a “fitness trail” where travelers can view mountains, parks, and other city landmarks from the confluence.
Some new airport terminals have recently opened without moving runways. The travelers were not happy.
Last year, Orlando International Airport A new $2.8 billion building opened, but left the moving arcade. Airport leaders are now voting on a plan to install it, after multiple complaints from travelers.
Salt Lake City International Airport in 2020 opened a new passenger terminal, but it was a major source of criticism for its walk to the gate, which can take more than 20 minutes. airport now Build a tunnel To shorten the walk from security to the lobby.
So, do people miss flights now because they have to walk long distances? Well, that’s kind of the good news. Weather-related flight delays have been so common over the past year that millions of people are still waiting at the gate.