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  • Writer's pictureVersionAbsolute Design Studio

Airport Wayfinding Principles-PART 1 Strategy is key!

Airports are one of the most stress inducing places one can be in! One has to go through a series of processing points in a limited amount of time, often with no idea how much time each of those steps will take. In addition, the process complexities have become multi-fold with the introduction of online processes and prerequisites which vary from one airport operator, country to another.

Why do airports need to rethink their strategy for passenger wayfinding?

  • The navigational complexity has increased over the years with airports becoming larger.

  • More people than before, are flying, leading to many first-time flyers (FTF).

  • For many of these FTF, traditional wayfinding/navigation systems, such as signs and maps are not always be very easy to understand and can lead to confusion especially when they are rushing to catch their flight.

  • Increased visual stimulus from a plethora of advertising mediums add to the sense of being lost while navigating through the airport.

  • The world has changed post 9/11 and security measures and processes have increased/tightened leading to longer processing times which creates a sense of uncertainty in one estimation of time left to be able to catch one’s flight.

  • Confusing or sometime non-existent information on the city side creates a sense of panic even before one reaches the airport.

  • People’s expectations from an airport has changed from merely being a transportation space to also being a shopping & F&B space.

  • Airports are fast becoming a brand extension of the city/operator.

What would be some possible strategies one can explore to alleviate the situation?

  • Create a strategy to segregate primary secondary and tertiary information.

  • Use of high contrast color scheme, not in isolation, but in the current airport environment.

  • Re-look at the scale for some of the signs. Increasing size of some information can help reduce the need for multiple support signs.

  • Remove/reduce/selectively use information on signs. Remove redundancies and obvious information. Less is More!

  • As far as possible, de-clutter the existing environment so that one doesn’t have to search for the required information.

  • Extension of the existing primary addressing system that of entrance gates, check in counters and boarding gates into supporting processes and activities.

  • Addition of dynamic information systems to existing signs to display time & other related contextual dynamic information.

  • Process maps at strategic locations such as beginning and end of every process, for first-time flyers.


Process map for AAI for their Chennai International Airport Passenger Terminal Building,

Airport Authority of India Chennai PTB process map
Airport Wayfinding Process Map

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