Airports as Destinations: The Rise of User Experience

by Vincent Trivett + Skift Team - Sep 2013

Skift Research Take

The line between airports and the destinations they serve has blurred. Once regarded as purely utilitarian infrastructure, airports are now becoming more integrated with their surroundings and hosting new experiences for passengers and non-passengers alike.

Report Overview

Executive summary

The way that we think about airports is changing. We are used to seeing them as unfriendly places where we are hassled by security, confounded about where to go and stressed out over missing a flight. They were all alike one another — there was little local cultural difference between an airport in Berlin or Beijing.

Today, an airport might be a great place to eat, shop, dance, sleep, socialize or even get married. As airports compete for choosy passengers and air routes, they are turning into destinations themselves with unique amenities. Even for business travelers who meet at the airport rather than battle traffic to get downtown, a visit to an airport could feel like an experience of a different destination. People who come to meet or send off their loved ones have reason to linger and enjoy the surroundings. Even locals who aren’t boarding planes are visiting the airports for civic events, retail and entertainment.

This report will show how the changing business environment is turning airports into more welcoming places. It will explain the history and context for the trend and what’s coming next. Also, it will show how existing and emerging technology such as smartphones and biometric scanning can soon turn airports from a mess of queues and irritations into elegant, stress-free areas. Also, this report will explore how young cities in Asia and the Middle East are planning cities around airports and integrating them into urban life in novel ways.