Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Lounge-inspired airport design

Would you care for a martini with that?
 
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Problem: As I was waiting for a flight in Chicago O'Hare airport earlier this week, I became very frustrated trying to listen to updates on my flight's status because I could not hear the voice coming from the loudspeaker. The sound waves of thousands of voices from every direction bounced off of the cement walls and resin floors, making it nearly impossible to distinguish the words that I wanted to hear, which themselves reverberated throughout the hardened-surface terminal.

Solution: Cover the walls and ceilings with thickly padded fabric and the floors with plush carpets. This will greatly reduce the reverberation effect and make it easier to hear announcements as well as one's own thoughts.

The carpeting ought to be made of a highly stain-resistant material, and modular so that it can be easily removed for thorough cleaning. Such decorating would necessitate updated luggage design. Wheels on suitcases would become considerably larger and wider in order to pull them over the carpet. These larger wheels would in turn make it easier to pull your luggage over small bumps, curbs, etc. Airports would be much more comfortable to walk (or sprint) around in. And sitting around in thick sofas as you wait, sipping your Manhattan while you listen to Sinatra or Bennett, would bring some sorely-lacking class back to air travel.
kevindimie, Jun 05 2003

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       Or...every time the microphone is keyed, the speaker system says "SHHHHHHH!"   

       Or...the airport invests in decent audio equipment and the announcers enunciate properly. Okay, let's stick with the "Shhh" thing.
phoenix, Jun 05 2003
  

       O'Hare is loads of fun to call from, isn't it? Worst acoustics of any airport I've ever been in.
thumbwax, Jun 05 2003
  

       Perhaps just put a decent display above the gate telling everyone what flight is boarding and which rows are allowed to get in.   

       Add a few extra lines for messages like: Mr. XXX please return to the ticket counter. (where Mr. XXX is scheduled for this flight, so he is likely around and watching)   

       When I have allergies I'm sometimes nearly deaf and that would be a great help.   

       You get a "for" for addressing the problem, and an "against" for the solution, so alltogether its a croissant with fishbone flavor.
kbecker, Jun 06 2003
  

       Mmmm. Fishbone-flavored croissant.

The idea of a display is good for certain things. O'Hare actually already has high-quality displays at the boarding gates, but they are only used for limited flight information. I'm not sure they would work as well for things like paging individual passengers. Mr. XXX might be around, but if he is not expecting to be paged he is more likely to be looking at the latest FHM than the message display, or be at the bar, or in the bathroom, etc. etc. An audio component is important because sound is less geometrically-confined, not relying as much on lines of sight and the constant attention of the passengers. But I agree that improved displays would also help a lot.
kevindimie, Jun 06 2003
  

       What you describe exists, and the areas where it exists are, amazingly, called lounges. Unfortunately, entry to these lounges costs what for most people is a stupid amount of money.
beauxeault, Jun 06 2003
  

       The reason they don't do this is the ongoing maintenance costs. Carpet wears out a hell of alot faster than a hard floor, and cleaning is that much harder.
krelnik, Jun 06 2003
  

       Mount acoustic tile on those concrete surfaces. Easier to clean than carpet, plus it has that space-age acoustic tile look.
bungston, Jun 06 2003
  

       And why not put carpets and sofas in factories? This will surely icrease the...yawn...erm..production of the...workers s ss...zzzzz......
git, Jun 06 2003
  
      
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