flexiblefullpage -
billboard - default
interstitial1 - interstitial
Currently Reading

Populous survey shows travelers are ready to return to the airport, with proper protection


Populous survey shows travelers are ready to return to the airport, with proper protection

Survey data points to achievable solutions for airports around the globe.

By Populous | November 20, 2020

Global design firm Populous, with Qualtrics, has released the results of a national survey that can help owners and operators of airports understand how COVID-19 has influenced passengers’ expectations and fears during travel. 

With responses from nearly 2,200 people age 18+ who have taken at least five trips over the last 18 months for business or leisure, the survey revealed data and potential solutions to an array of concerns, including security checkpoints, food and beverage purchases, gate boarding and arrivals and more. 



“While travel was very limited during the start of the pandemic, passengers have begun to travel again, either for leisure or business, and it’s important that airports are taking the proper steps to a safe environment and pleasant experience for these passengers,” said Geoffrey Ax, Populous Americas Aviation Market Leader and Principal. “With the results of our survey with Qualtrics, we are able to help our airport clients develop achievable solutions that can help them regain passenger confidence and trust.”

Overall, business travelers were the dominant group of respondents planning to travel in 2020 at 84 percent, over leisure travelers, of which only 71 percent planned to travel this year. In general, 79 percent of all respondents were comfortable going to an airport with the proper protection and protocols in place, such as wearing masks and social distancing, and limiting the number of passengers in the concourse. 



Among the top concerns impacting passenger trust and confidence were the ways staff and passengers will behave. Nearly 70 percent of travelers were concerned with someone around them having COVID-19, with a close 66 percent were concerned about others not following CDC guidelines. The majority of business and leisure travelers were also concerned about specific areas around the airport; seating locations being first, with security checkpoints a close second. 



Other findings from the survey include: 

– Transportation: The COVID-19 pandemic is even changing the way that passengers arrive and depart the airport. In cities, a huge number of passengers took public transportation (decreased two percent) or ridesharing services (preference decreased by 10 percent).  Now, the percentage of travelers who were willing to drive their own car to the airport increased six percent, and those who would get rides from family and friends increased five percent. The data found in this survey will help airports devise a better plan for pickup and drop-off areas, which in many cities, are already congested. Visible and color-coded numbered beacons can provide unmistakable pickup locations so that passengers and drivers can easily find each other. 

– Security Screening: Bringing to mind security screenings, travelers’ picture long, dense lines, and lots of touchpoints. The survey revealed that about two-thirds of travelers are concerned with maintaining social distancing while going through security, and 84 percent were willing to use a phone app for a timed entry experience. By implementing timed entry, virtual queuing and detached security checkpoints at airports, capacity can be limited, and passengers will be notified when they should arrive, and which entry and security line to use. Queuing modifications include barriers between different security lines, which also help to maximize space, as a socially distanced security line takes up lots of square footage.  

– Hold Rooms: As the number one concern is interaction with other passengers who might have been exposed to COVID-19, the hold rooms, or areas where passengers wait to board the plane, is an area of worry.  By creating a hold room layout that supports social distancing, with a combination of seated and standing partitions, airports can separate passengers who are seated, boarding, deplaning, or interacting with airline staff. The creation of individual and group pods, especially ones with access to charging stations and luggage storage, are also a great option to ease passengers’ concerns. These pods could also be rented, so airports could regain some lost revenue. 

– Food & Beverage: For many flyers, the first stop after the security checkpoint is a food and beverage station or retail shop to stock up on in-flight snacks and reading materials. The survey found that although passengers intended to arrive early to the airport during COVID-19, they are less likely to spend money on food and beverage; 70 percent of passengers preferred to use an app to order food and beverage for pickup or delivery. Airports could consider a temporary conversion of food courts that include modular pod seating configured to accommodate multiple user groups, or locker service for pre-ordering and pickup of food. 


Related Stories

Airports | Jul 18, 2022

FAA will award nearly $1 billion for airport projects

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will award nearly $1 billion to 85 airports of all sizes across the country to improve terminals.

Airports | Jul 8, 2022

Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport’s new terminal prioritizes passenger experience and sustainability

McCarthy Building Companies recently completed construction of the final concourse in Terminal 4 at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

Airports | Jul 7, 2022

Love at first flight: The power of first impressions in airports

As architects, how we design a terminal and choreograph the passenger experience can stir up strong feelings.

Airports | Jun 29, 2022

BIG and HOK’s winning design for Zurich airport’s new terminal

Two years ago, Zurich Airport, which opened in the 1950s, launched an international design competition to replace the aging Dock A—the airport’s largest dock.

Airports | Jun 2, 2022

SOM-designed International Arrival Facility at Seattle’s Sea–Tac airport features the world’s largest aerial walkway

The Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)-designed International Arrivals Facility (IAF) at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has opened, replacing a 50-year-old arrival facility.   

Sponsored | BD+C University Course | May 3, 2022

For glass openings, how big is too big?

Advances in glazing materials and glass building systems offer a seemingly unlimited horizon for not only glass performance, but also for the size and extent of these light, transparent forms. Both for enclosures and for indoor environments, novel products and assemblies allow for more glass and less opaque structure—often in places that previously limited their use.

Airports | Apr 4, 2022

Dominican Republic airport expansion will add mixed-use features

The recently revealed design concept for the expansion of Santiago International Airport in the Dominican Republic includes a transformation of the current building into a mixed-use space that features an office park, business center, and hotel.

Codes and Standards | Mar 4, 2022

FAA offers $1 billion in grants for airport terminal and tower projects

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is now accepting applications for about $1 billion in grants for airport projects during fiscal year 2022.

Resiliency | Feb 15, 2022

Design strategies for resilient buildings

LEO A DALY's National Director of Engineering Kim Cowman takes a building-level look at resilient design. 

boombox1 - default
boombox2 -
native1 -

More In Category

halfpage1 -

Most Popular Content

  1. 2021 Giants 400 Report
  2. Top 150 Architecture Firms for 2019
  3. 13 projects that represent the future of affordable housing
  4. Sagrada Familia completion date pushed back due to coronavirus
  5. Top 160 Architecture Firms 2021


Magazine Subscription

Get our Newsletters

Each day, our editors assemble the latest breaking industry news, hottest trends, and most relevant research, delivered to your inbox.


Follow BD+C: