links for 2008-04-28
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Design Mistakes in Airports

ElalSo I'm sitting here in Ben Gurion International, THE airport in Israel, waiting for boarding.

The new terminal is stunning, the shopping is great, and pretty much everything, including McDonalds, is certified kosher.  The seating in the waiting area is adequate, with wide seats, plenty of space for stowing your carry-ons without taking up additional chairs, and there are windows galore - creating an open and relaxing atmosphere.  The Wifi access is free and incredibly fast.  What could possibly be wrong?

Firstly, let me state that overall, the new international terminal here is very well designed.  The points I am about to outline, are more annoyances than major issues.

To start with, there isn't an outlet in site, anywhere.  I don't know if this is an Israeli thing, a European eccentricity, or a design oversight, but free Wifi without outlets... just doesn't make any sense to me.

Secondly, there is the issue of cell phone rental returns. The returns kiosk is located after check-in at the airport.  Sounds great so far.  However, as any regular flier will tell you, much of your cell phone usage comes while you are waiting to board, not while you are checking your luggage.  Positioning your cell phone rental returns kiosk in the main (post-check-in) shopping mall not only serves as annoyance to your renters who are still looking for cell phone usage at the gates and waiting areas, but it serves to decrease the number of minutes used - and therefor your own revenue!  Oops.

My third issue here is rather minor, but I have found to be indicative of nearly all airports (and airlines) across the world.  There is a lack of communication.  There should be a bulleting board clearly telling fliers their flight status.  If the plane was delayed on the way in, and the cleaning staff is prepping it, please tell us that we will be 20 minutes late.  If inclement weather is holding up the flight for an hour, use your screens and tell us.  There is nothing more annoying than the nod of the shoulders.  ElAl does not do this, but I cannot count the number of times this has happened to me in the states.

And with that, I am out.  We are finally boarding (just 15 minutes late!), and I'm off to try to switch my middle seat to an isle or a window.  Wish me luck!

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