(Part 1 of our series Planes, Trains, & Parking Garages: A Guide to Signage and Transit)

Airports are some of the busiest places in the world with thousands of passengers, and in the case of airports like Atlanta hundreds of thousands of passengers, arriving and departing through their gates each day. This isn’t even including all the employees who make these airports run, including everyone from the flight crew, to the TSSA safety attendants, to the staff who keep the airport property and all its services running. It’s no surprise then that signage plays an essential role in how an airport functions, from the essential wayfinding signage that gets travelers where they need to go, to the electronic signs and kiosks that many interact with to check-in and to find their flights, to the graphics and murals that provide a sense of place and often a welcoming message to the city where passengers are arriving and departing. In this part 1 of three of “Planes, Trains, & Parking Garages: A Guide to Signage and Transit” we breakdown signs’ importance in the airport industry.

  1. Art, Graphics, & Murals
MIKI Yoshihito from Sapporo City,Hokkaido., JAPAN, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Travel can be disorienting for many, whether you’re a first time flyer or a seasoned business pro, and one of the ways airports can make you feel at home when you’re miles away is to show you a sense of place.

Airports often achieve this through signage promoting the locale you’re in, and also through signs with messages specifically welcoming you to the airport, the city, and perhaps the country for international airports, that you’ve arrived in.

  1. Electronic Signs

Perhaps one of the most essential signs at airports for passengers are the digital displays that are setup at each gate, at check-in, and at luggage pick-up, highlighting the progress of flights. “On Time”, “Delayed”, and “Canceled” are some of the most important words and phrases one needs to check for when flying, and to be able to see this quickly and easily is crucial.

Thankfully the development of electronic technology, through TVs and display screens, has made this a significantly easier process than in the past to implement. This is why these displays are pretty much ubiquitous at nearly every airport throughout the world.

  1. Kiosks

Before touchless technology really started taking off, such as QR codes and mobile apps, kiosks and self-service stations became the go to mode for people to more quickly, and ideally with less lines, accomplish what they needed.

At airports, kiosks are often sources of quick information, whether it’s a kiosk with a visual map or guide, or the kiosks setup at check-in which allow for boarding passes to be printed. Even as boarding passes go mobile, kiosks can still be set up to scan QR codes on apps, should passengers prefer a printed boarding pass for their flight.

4. Directional and Informational Signage

Aside from the digital displays, the only signage perhaps matching in importance in airports is the directional and informational signs that guide you to where you need to go along with the signs identifying where you’ve arrived at. In particular, wayfinding systems that help passengers find their gates are especially crucial. Whether you have time to leisurely stroll, or you’re rushing to catch your flight, these signs are what get you to where you need to go.