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Travel Tip: Airport Layouts That Don’t Account for the Schlep Factor

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It’s the 21st century, but those who design airports seem to be living in the steamship age.

There is very little understanding about the way people actually travel, as well as what they carry with them.

I call this the schlep factor—the long walks to or from your gate.

I’m not talking about the old airport terminals, but newly built terminals that never take into consideration travelers’ endurance.

Take London’s Terminal 2 at Heathrow, which is called The Queen’s Terminal, for example.

If the Queen herself were to try to get from the airline check-in desk to her gate, the paramedics might be called. It’s a walk of more than a mile between some points.

In Miami, despite the installation of a train, the walks are endless.

Try getting from Terminal A to Terminal E lugging even a light carry-on bag.

It’s not just the distance, it’s the time involved.

Of course, airports never put available carts inside the terminals, where passengers exit planes with their carry-ons. That would make common sense.

Instead, they’re put at baggage claim where the trip between getting your luggage and a car or taxi is actually the shortest.

If you’re landing at JFK’s Terminal 4, as I did on a recent Delta flight, the walk to either customs or baggage claim is so long you might want to consider bringing camping gear and stopping for an overnight stay.

No one who designs an airport should ever be paid until they’ve been forced to endure it.

We’re entering a new year of the 21st century. When it comes to airport design, it might be a good idea to finally leave the 19th century.

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