Happy busiest travel day of the year, friends! Chances are good that you're already on your way through the mass of humanity making a move from one place to another, so here's a thought: If you could do anything to improve the flying experience, what would it be?
This week, Gizmodo asked a handful of pros in different fields that question. We've heard from textile designer Elizabeth Whelan, customer experience designer Matt Rolandson, and, today, co-working and retail expert Rena Tom weighs in. Tom is a consultant, creative champion, and the founder of Makeshift Society, a San Francisco-based co-working space and creative clubhouse (soon to open a second location in Brooklyn). Here's what she had to say.
Consider hanging out after landing
"Why are people at airports? Yes, they're traveling, but they're stuck there—waiting before a flight and also after landing. If I take a red eye from San Francisco to New York, I don't always want to go into the city at 6am: it's early, nothing's open, my hotel won't allow check-in until the afternoon. It would be great if there were a space where people could feel comfortable to actually hanging out to get stuff done."
Rethink the concept of an airline lounge
"Of course, it doesn't just have to be work; that's one chunk of it, but it could be more of an activity hub, or a place to chill. No one ever thinks of just chilling at the airport. The problem with fancy airport lounges is that they're segregated by airline, and they're status-based; they're only for certain kinds of people. This would be open to all, for a fee, even; I know I'd happily pay a few bucks for a nice place to be productive, especially if it had a few fun things out for kids to keep kids busy."
Time-based projects for frequent travelers
"There are a lot of things to do with the notion that people are traveling, but, for the most part, they'll always come back through the same airport. SFO has fantastic museum exhibitions, but what if there were resident artists working on a project on-site? You could see what they were doing on the way out, then see the result when you return. Or a ceramics studio, where you could create something before your flight, then pick it up all finished and fired after your trip."
A current exhibition at SFO.
Connect to the community outside the airport
"Shopping isn't the main thing travelers are after anymore, but local makers could come out to do demos, or chefs could do pop-up tastings, with discounts for their restaurants or products back in the city."
Make the airport feel like an extension of the city
"Everyone's always so anxious to get in and leave; creating this kind of immersive space might actually decrease stress on the outside as well by encouraging people to come earlier and experience more. Maybe an app could say what's going on at the airport at any given terminal, at any given time, to establish the idea that there are humans there, and activities, when you're not around. It would make things feel a little more friendly. We should treat our airports more like a city and a community of people."
Image by Flickr user Daniel Ramirez.
It's one of the busiest travel weeks of the year, so what better time to take a closer look at how we get where we're going—and how we could be doing it better? Check out more of Gizmodo's Air Travel Week posts here.