Directional guidance

25Oct07

Alright, I admit it: My sense of direction in airports just plain stinks. But bad signage certainly doesn’t help the matter. I actually saw an article about how airports are bringing in signage consultants to fix their signs, which sounds like a step in the right direction. Since I won’t be holding my breath for that, I’d like to discuss a quick and dirty way to alleviate this problem.

My solution is based on a simple assumption: Most people leaving a plane want to get their bags (if any) and leave the airport, whether by car, taxi, or train. Their needs might be summed up as “Which way do I go for the baggage claim and airport exit?” So here’s my wild idea: Right after the plane lands (but before the passengers depart), the airline could make an announcement over the intercom telling people which way to go. The options would be “left”, “right”, or “straight ahead”. Here’s an example: “If you’re looking for baggage claim or the airport exit, just turn left after you leave the plane.”

I know this would create a little bit of extra work for the airlines, since they would need to check the gate map before making this announcement. But since it would cost virtually nothing, and at least some percentage of passengers are bound to find the service useful, I’d love to see someone try it out. Southwest seems like a good candidate, as they’re highly focused on customer service and the little details that create repeat customers. Alas, this will probably remain a pipe dream, and I’ll be left with heading the wrong way at Minneapolis-St. Paul at least a few more times.



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