Tuesday, 29 September 2009

5 things the philospher learnt about Heathrow Terminal 5

Nice piece from philosopher Alain de Botton in today's Guardian about the things he learnt while being writer-in-residence at London Heathrow airport.

I particularly liked point #2

2 There's a British Airways check-in employee at Terminal 5 who, if you manage to be especially rude to her, will pretend that her machine has suddenly designated you for an upgrade. Then, just as she observes your scowl turn into a deferential smile, she will take a second look at her screen, sigh empathetically and announce that sadly the system has mysterious changed its mind and there won't be an upgrade after all. "That's a lesson that normally lasts a lifetime," she reckons.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Kim Høltermand captures Copenhagen Airport with a cool clarity

A new job does not time for blogging make. Thankfully things are settling down. Here are some stunning shots of Copenhagen Airport taken by the architectural photographer Kim Høltermand. Back soon ... (via computer love)

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Hey dude, how far is the airport?

You know the drill. Buying budget airline tickets often needs a close examination of the small print. Airports listed as serving major cities are often miles away from their supposed location. According to Skyscanner, a flight-comparison website, "if you jumped on a train that said it was going to London, but it was actually bound for Oxford, you’d be pretty annoyed ... so how come they can get away with it when it comes to airports?"

The service has gotten out the map and the tape measure and come up with a definative list.

Here's a list of the worst offenders:

1. Munich West (Memmingen) – 70 miles (112km) from central Munich
2. Oslo (Torp) – 68 miles (110km) from central Oslo
3. Frankfurt (Hahn) – 68 miles (110km) from central Frankfurt.
4. London (Oxford) – 60 miles (97km) from central London
5. Stockholm (Skavsta) – 59 miles (95km) from central Stockholm
6. Barcelona (Girona) – 58 miles (94km) from central Barcelona
7. Barcelona (Reus) – 58 miles (94km) from central Barcelona
8. Paris (Beauvais ) – 55miles (88km) from central Paris
9. Dusseldorf (Weeze) – 50 miles (80 km) from central Dusseldorf
10. London (Stansted) – 40 miles (km) from central London
11. Tokyo (Narita) – 37 miles (60km) from central Tokyo
12. Verona (Brescia) – 33 miles (53km) from central Verona
13. Glasgow (Prestwick) – 32 miles (51km) from central Glasgow
14. London (Luton) – 32 miles (51km) from central London
15. Milan (Bergamo) – 31 miles (50km) from central Milan

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Living in the parking lot of LAX

Thanks to Bruce Sterling for pointing us towards this facinating story about a community of airline workers living in the parking lot of Los Angeles International.

As Bruce Sterling points out: "What’s really surprising is the drifter community that nucleated there and had to be chased off. Makes one wonder who would dwell in the parking lots of *abandoned* airports. Whoever they were, they’d be reading a lot of JG Ballard."

Monday, 13 July 2009

Sneak peak: Facelift for LAX Theme Building

First look at the refurubished Theme Building at LAX (above). It has been under wraps since a great, half-ton section of stucco crashed to the floor in March 2007. The iconic building is finally shedding the web of scaffolding in preparation for a relaunch in the fall.

Since the early 60s the Theme Building has been celebrated for its Jetson-like styling and its long, arching, parabolic legs. The building has been under wraps since it the accident, although the famous Encounter Restaurant has since reopened. We hope that the rooftop platform, which has been closed since 9/11 for security reasons, will also be open to the public.

We like the Theme Building. It's a fine example of an architectual style known as "Googie" or "Populuxe", once memorably described by William Gibson as "raygun gothic" thanks to its retro-futuristic styling.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Japanese airport trials 'personal mobility vehicles'

A Japanese airport has taken delivery of several futuristic people movers, allowing airline staff and security guards to patrol the ticket halls and baggage areas in some style.

A quartet of three-wheeled "i-Reals" have been put into service at Chubu Airport in Tokoname City, Japan. The three-wheeled vehicles, manufactured by Toyota, have a top speed of 15kph and a range of 30km. A combination of right- and left-hand levers control movement: pushing the sticks accelerate the i-Real - pulling them back slows it down.

According to tech site The Register, one of the I-Real's has been fitted with a medical kit, including a defibrillator, and a PC that passengers can use to check-in for their flights.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Spaceport America gets off the ground

The world's first purpose-built commercial spaceport began construction in the New Mexico desert earlier this week. The groundbreaking of Spaceport America initiates construction on a cutting-edge, 110,000-plus square foot facility which promises to herald an exciting new age for space exploration and development, at least for the super-rich.

The design for Spaceport America's terminal hangar facility, which in the image (above) looks suspiously like the Millennium Falcon, was created by a team of American and British architects that were selected after competing in an international design competition. URS Corporation, one of the world's largest design and engineering firms, teamed with lead designer Foster + Partners of the United Kingdom. The terminal should be completed some time in 2010.

Located near the White Sands Missile Range in state-owned desert 45 miles (72 km) north of Las Cruces and 30 miles (48 km) east of Truth or Consequences, it is currently under active development and is expected to be completed in 2010.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Seoul's Incheon: number one for passenger satisfaction

Seoul's Incheon airport has won this year's Skytrax World Aiport Awards. The awards, which are based on passenger satisfaction ratings, rated the South Korea's main hub as the best across 38 seperate categories.

Incheon beat last year's winner Hong Kong International Airport, while Singapore Changi Airport was ranked third. It's been a good year for the airport which has already bagged laurels for being the Best Worldwide Airport from Buying by Business Travel magazine and Best Duty Free Airport from Australia's Luxury Travel & Style magazine.

Over 8.6 million questionnaires completed by airline passengers in 2008/9, covering more than 190 airports worldwide. The survey evaluates traveller experiences across 39 different airport service and product factors - from check-in, arrivals, transfer through to departure at the gate. (via)


1 Incheon International Airport
2 Hong Kong International Airport
3 Singapore Changi
4 Zurich
5 Munich
6 Osaka-Kansai
7 Kuala Lumpur
8 Amsterdam
9 Centrair Nagoya
10 Auckland

© 2009 Copyright Skytrax (All rights reserved)

Thursday, 18 June 2009

The world's weirdest airport names

In a brazen call for a bit of extra publicity, Skyscanner - actually an incredibly useful flight price comparision tool - has published a list of the oddest airport names. We don't usually approve of this kind of thing, but we couldn't hold back our giggles at #5

Skyscanner's Top 10 Personal Favourites:

1. Batman Airport (BAL) Turkey

2. Useless Loop Airport (USL), Australia

3. Black Tickle Airport (YBI), Canada

4. Mafia Airport (MFA), Tanzania

5. Moron Airport (MXV), Mongolia

6. Ogle Airport (OGL), Guyana

7. Brest Airport (BES), France

8. Eek Airport (EEK), USA

9. Pickle Lake Airport (YPJ), Canada

10. Raspberry Strait Airport (RSP), USA

First look: Barcelona T1

After months of delay, Barcelona El Prat new Terminal (T1) was officially opened yesterday by the primeminister of Spain.

One of the biggest civil engineering projects in Europe, the aluminum roofs cover an area 2.5 times the size of the Camp Nou football stadium (itself the largest stadium in Europe with a capacity of 98,772 seats), home to the city’s mighty football club, which recently won the European Champions League. The total surface area of the airport is the equivelent of a staggering 850 football pitches.

The terminal will almost double capacity at El Prat from around 30 million to 55 million. It has been suggested in the Spanish press that the new terminal will enable El Prat to consolidate its position among Europe's top ten airports. First impressions seem to suggest that it T1 forms a utilitarian counterpoint to the more beautiful and colourful Barajas airport in Madrid, which now has a smaller capacity of 40 million passenger per year.

The retail offering is impressive, 23,866sq m of shopping space, including many famous Spanish brands , including Adolfo Domínguez, Zara and Desigual. With a smattering of international brands, most notably Ferrari. Initially the terminal has 81 shops and catering establishments that will open for business over 2009. Eventually this will be extended to 73 shops and 43 bars and restaurants.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

The superhub, your next generation airport

The New York Times has just published a fantastic piece describing the airport just over the horizon, which it describes as a "superhub", probably "constructed offshore on a man-made island". It then runs through a bevy of emerging airport technology trends: online check-in and ticketing; biometric security portals; monorails and underground trains. Nice pic too courtesy of Grimshaw Architects.

"The airport is designed like a wheel: at the center is the control tower, rising above a central hub encircled by airport and airline offices and topped by gardens; the outside rim houses the terminals, which are connected to the central hub by spokes — thin, glazed concourses with moving walkways."

Monday, 15 June 2009

Why it is even less of a Lonely Planet in Sydney

The first Lonely Planet concept store will open at Sydney International airport terminal one early in July. The new branch will offer the brand's award-winning travel guides and digital guides, as well as a range of travel accessories and merchandise. The store will have a special booth that will allow travellers to print there own guidebooks from the publisher's pick-n-mix chapters.

According to DFNI Digital, a leading travel-retail analyists, the new store will be Designed by Sydney-based agency Studio Red and will feature a graphic montage of book covers that appear to "spring from the wall". Products will be framed in a 3D-designed bookcase offset by intersecting suspended ceiling fins to suggest movement and travel. The shop’s interior design will also include a world map displaying Lonely Planet images from around the world.

Lonely Planet sales and marketing director Howard Ralley said: “Airports are strange places; travellers are half-excited and half-bored. Everyone waiting for a flight wants to be inspired or have their attention diverted, so we thought where better to open the world’s first Lonely Planet store presenting all that we do, from digital services to guidebook content? As well as more than 500 books, videos and quality travel gear, there will be i-touch screens to deliver expert information from our authors, plus the ability to print your own custom guidebook from our Pick & Mix chapters.”

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Engineers reject London's estuary airport

Boris Johnson's, the flamboyent - and controversial - Mayor of London has suffered a fresh setback to his plans to build a massive airport on an artificial island in the mouth of the Thames Estuary. A set of the world's leading engineers have rejected the plans on the grounds that the proposed airport's catchment area is too small, when compared to London's main hub, Heathrow.

But the point about Thames Esturary Airport is that it is on the right side of London. The River Thames opens out onto the English Channel and into the main flight path into London. Heathrow lies to the west of the city, forcing practically all flights to fly over the city. We like the idea a lot and think that an airport in the Thames is the only solution to London's overcrowded airports, the expansion of which causes much unhappiness and controversy.

Such concerns certainly don't seem to have deterred the developers of other offshore airports. And it shouldn't deter Boris.

Monday, 1 June 2009

First sight: Free wifi and power poles in Hong Kong International

Hong Kong International led the way last year when it became the first airport to offer free wireless internet access to its customers. Now they've go one better with the installation of a network of "power poles" that allow you to plug in your electonic items and recharge them. This is such an innovation, as many weary travellers will testify. Being able to recharge your laptop or mobile or iPod after a long flight, or on a connecting flight, is an absolute godsend.

Update: Power poles and recharging points also seen at London City Airport and Heathrow T5. Any more out there?


Final call: a history of airport identity

Just a quick nod towards the excellent exhibition on airline identity at the San Francisco Airport Museum which includes more than 125 vintage and present-day items from 45 airlines, plus flight attendant uniforms, airline signage, flight bags, in-flight service items, luggage labels, ticket jackets, safety cards and model aircraft to boot

The exhibition is on until August.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Beijing airport bags Building of the Year

Breaking news: Beijing Capital International Airport has just been named the Building of the Year by the UK’s architecture sector during the prestigious AJ100 survey and awards. Terminal 3 at the airport, designed by Foster + Partners, was selected unanimously as the winner from a shortlist of five buildings by the judging panel.

According to Dexigner.comthe judges were impressed by the airport's elegant form and light-filled interior, "which will create a memorable and inspiring environment for the 50 million passengers who will travel through the terminal by 2020.

"The jury felt that the new terminal building incorporates subtle references to Chinese architectural traditions, giving it a strong sense of place.

"Integrated public transport and short walking distances for passengers have also been carefully addressed in the design, and the jury also recognized the challenge of delivering such a technically complex building in this location.

The changing face of London City Airport

London's airports are much maligned. Over priced, over capacity and often overshadowed by sleeker hubs overseas. But that's because most passengers overlook (that enough over prefixes - ed) London City Airport, the modest European terminal situated in the City's regenerated former docklands. The recent extension to the Dockland's Light Railway, however, is helping revive the airport's fortunes.

Hidden Europe, a bi-monthly magazine with a sideways look at the art of travel, has published this thoughful short article on the changing face of Silvertown, the location of London City Airport.

Last time I went to Silvertown, about ten years ago, I travelled on a train that creaked and screeched on ancient tracks, skirting derelict docks and gaunt shells of long abandoned factories to reach a single railway platform just by the Albert Road post office. hidden europe returned to Silvertown yesterday, to find the nineteenth-century railway tracks replaced by a sleek modern light railway. The relentless redevelopment of London's docklands marches on to the east, engulfing the remnants of old working class communities with adventurous new office blocks, warehousing and chic riverfront apartments.

On my first visit to Silvertown, an old man on Albert Road who had worked for years as a yard gang foreman in the nearby Tate and Lyle factory, told me how, until he was twenty years old, he had never once travelled out of the docklands. The factory still stands, but most of the buildings around have been levelled in recent years, including the old Tate and Lyle front office which was embellished with a verse from the Old Testament: "Out of the strong came forth sweetness." A decent enough motto for a factory that produced golden syrup from sugar cane.

Rathbone Street market in Canning Town, just two stops up the train line from Silvertown, was the furthest most Silvertowners ever ventured. A Saturday special. Pie and mash at Mrs Olley's café followed by ice cream at Murkoff's were Canning Town treats before Silvertowners hopped back on the train for the short ride home. Silvertown catered to all everyday needs. It had a barber, a cinema, a Congregationalist chapel, Herringshaw's grocery store, and even - for those wanting to splash out - a place to take lunch in style: the Beehive Dining Rooms run by Michael Heaslip.

And Silvertown today? Barred and shuttered, a tiny community that lives on its memories and waits for the bulldozers. The post office has closed and no ships from the tropics ever arrive at the lifeless Tate and Lyle pier. Silvertown has new horizons - and no longer are they limited to a Saturday train ride to Canning Town. For nowadays Silvertown is home to London City Airport, which offers flights to some three dozen destinations across Europe. You can fly to Nice or Madrid but no longer can you buy a stamp and have a natter at the Albert Road post office.

Prince George's "wooden" terminal grabs award

Wood: simple, honest, lightweight, cheap and sustainable. It is undoubtedly the most underused and undervalued building material when it comes to air terminals. So it's nice that British Columbia's Prince George Airport has been rewarded for its excellence for innovation in architecture by the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada for making good use of wood.

According to a report in the Prince George Citizen, the judges remarked that the terminal's "durability, sustainability, elegant detailing and cost were all weighed in the decisions to develop a simple natural palette for the building," while adding that the creation of "simple beautiful surfaces and minimalistic detailing," openness of the interior to the extensions, "stressed and enhanced by an elegant roof that appears to float. " In sum, they called it an "elegant creation in the context of normal cost constraints."

The effect is breathtaking: creating a seamless"indoor-outdoor" experience for travellers in the departure lounge. Prince George is one of the few airports in the world where it is common that bears and other wildlife wander just opposite the terminal and beyond the runway. Don't worry there's a thick layer of paw-proof glass, just in case the beasties get too close.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Sneak peak: Barcelona Terminal 1

huge, originally uploaded by popatrapat.

Barcelona's shiny shiny Terminal one - an extension to its main hub - is due to open on June 16. We've found a few pre-launch pix for you - and it looks HUGE. Designed by Ricardo Bofill, the new terminal will increase capacity in Barca's long overcrowded airport from 30m to 55m passengers annually and will stretch over 1.000,000 m2. You can see many more images here. What is immediately apparent is that the new terminal will serve as a minimalist counterpoint to Madrid's technicolour Barajas, which opened a couple of years ago.

"The design of the building combines an international, multicultural character with the luminosity and warmth of Mediterranean architecture. Its transparency allows natural light to flood into all public spaces and provides panoramic views of the runways, the sea and the natural landscape. By combining maximum functionality, local technology, respect for the environment and unique architecture, the new airport terminal will become an intercontinental hub, a reference and original prototype for forthcoming hubs in the rest of the world."

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Finntastic! Finnair's 40th anniversary reminds of the silver age of travel

Finnair remains one our favourite airlines. It's business class is second-to-none. But these pictures recently released to celebrate its 40th anniversary of its first flight to New York reveal that its heyday was the late 1960s when the companies embraced the futuristic, space-age aesthetic like no other.

(via the airline blog)

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Overheard at Honolulu

Tyler Brule in this weekend's Financial Times has recorded this rather amusing exchange between an irate customer and a saintly check-in agent from Hawaiian Airlines:

Serviceman no 1: Is this the check-in for Japan Airlines?
Nice lady from Hawaiian: No, this is the check-in for ANA, operated by Air Japan.
Serviceman no 2: So we can check-in for JAL here?
Nice lady from Hawaiian: No, that’s down the concourse. Just beyond those counters to the left.
Serviceman no 2: So why are there separate check-ins for the same flight?
Nice lady from Hawaiian: Ummmm ... there’s not. This is for ANA, operated by Air Japan. Japan Airlines is the other national carrier.
Serviceman no 1: You mean there’s an airline called Japan Airlines and another one called Air Japan? That’s really f**ked-up.
Nice lady from Hawaiian: Hard to believe, I know, but it’s true.
Serviceman no 2: But JAL and Japan Airlines are the same thing, right?

He adds: "I didn’t linger long enough to see if the pair made it beyond security, but it was one of those moments when you question whether passport applicants should have to pass some type of exam."

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Carrasco International: Montevideo's new superdome

The global recession may still be taking its toll, but it remains boom time for the world's airport enthusiasts. The latest opening to salivate over is the supremely space-age extension to Montevideo's
Carrasco International
, whose gleaming dome is due to open later this summer, a few months behind schedule. We are impressed by Rafael Viñoly dome-like structure, which seems to offer both an abundence of open and space and natural light. Another reason, if one were needed, to head to Uruguay's undervalued capital.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Is Yotel bound for San Francisco?

Rumours abound that Yotel, the European capsule chain, with branches in London Heathrow and Gatwick airports as well as Amsterdam Schiphol, is bound for its first stateside opening. The San Francisco Chronicle reported this morning: "The airport is seeking a concessionaire to build and operate what it calls "sleep units" in the International Terminal. SFO officials don't want a traditional hotel, but rather a collection of tiny rooms - like Japanese-style pod or capsule hotels - that fliers could rent for a couple of hours between flights.

Airports we love #3: Washington Dulles International

Some airports we love because they are so useable. Others, like Hong Kong, because they offer a consumer paradise. Washington's main hub, Dulles International, is none of these things. Indeed it can be a miserable experience to be delayed there (as the Terminalator was last year) but there's one thing that makes even a four-hour wait just just so bareable and that's the timeless architecture of Eero Saarinen with its huge sweeping roof looks as fabulous now as it did when it was opened in 1962.

"While Dulles remains a modern monument to the confluence of use and imagery... it is also handicapped by its uniqueness. No lessons flowed from this building because, apart from copying it, there was no way to expand its application. In the end Saarinen's was, like Wright's, an architecture of emotion applied to specific requirements and sites."

Carter Wiseman in Shaping a Nation, 1998

Face off: Standsted trials new biometric gates

Stansted Airport, on the outskirts of London, is encouraging its passengers travelling back to the UK to make use of "queue-busting" facial recognition technology at its arrivals gates.

The new system is open to any British or European passenger who has a new passport fitted with an electronic chip. Travellers simply have to stand in front of a machine that scans their face and checks the image against their passport photo before allowing them to pass through an automated gate.

Stansted Airport has been trialling the technology since December last year and there are plans to extend it to ten more UK terminals in August.

Inside South Korea's "ghost airports"

The mood may be buoyant at the Airport Show in Dubai but in South Korea many airports are empty and new developments are being postponed. BBC News has this interesting report from Yangyang International in the North East of the country which may enjoy the dubious honour of being the world's quietist.

One of its newest terminals, which cost almost US$400m to build, has not seen a single passenger in more than six months.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Pic of the Week: Munich Terminal II

A small child walks with his father down a deserted Terminal II in Munich. Or is it a snapshot from some unmade Stanley Kubrick movie. I dunno. If only every terminal was so splendidly isolated.

If you've a great airport picture for us please feel free to email it at terminaladdiction AT gmail DOT COM

« Airport Show » opens in Dubai promising greener, cleaner aviation

Hearing airport developers promising green development is a bit like listening to an alcholic claiming that he is just popping out to top up on tea. The ninth annual « Airport Show » opened in Dubai today with much talk of sustainability.

Yeah, green airports. We'll all for them. But we'll be keeping a sharp eye for real developments rather than just the usual PR spin.

Despite the global recession the airport development is continuing almost unabated in the region. Not least in Dubai itself where a new airport, Al Maktoum International Airport is being built 40 kilometres away from the existing Dubai International airport. The budget is an eyewatering $33 billion. The first passenger terminal is 80% complete and will have a capacity of seven million passengers, however it will handle up to 160 million passengers annually after completion. The airport will have an annual cargo capacity of 12 million tons, more than three times that of Memphis International Airport, today's largest cargo hub

How green the new airport's six parallel runways will be is anyone's guess.

Changi, Singapore and SFO rated as world's best

According to the latest issue of Dwell Magazine has rated Changi Airport in Singapore as the best in the world.

It woos the common traveler who may be stuck here for a few hours ... thanks to a straightforward design that incorporates open-air spaces, including rooftop terraces and an out-
door swimming pool. Its atrium-like
 terminals are lush with indoor tropical
gardens that exhibit botanical thought-fulness. ... Ultimately, however, the vines, tasteful wood trim, and 
warm tones help offset the coldness commonly found in international 
hubs. A 24-hour cinema, spa, showers, children’s play areas, and free Internet service provide the means to kill 
time or freshen up before the next 
leg of your trip.

While San Francisco Airport gets the nod as best US airport:

SFO makes a big impression on those approaching by car or aboard the airport’s nifty AirTrains. The terminal elevates expectations with its sweeping, winglike roof and custom lettering oozing cosmopolitan style. The feeling doesn’t dissipate indoors, either. The concourse is a light and airy space—–
if a bit oversized for current traffic levels—–that hums quietly and instills confidence and calm in the traveler. International food vendors afford 
nontravelers quality good-bye time; security checks operate smoothly; 
and there are no pretzel-like corridors to get lost in. Waylaid travelers can busy themselves with an aquarium, 
an aviation museum, thoughtful art and culture exhibits, spa treatments, quality restaurants, and wireless Inter-
net. Convenient metro rail services connect the terminal to the city.