There are many advantages to the high ceilings found today at many airports, some psychological ones, some logistic ones and some for the safety of the whole humankind. While on colder days some might complain that the heating might not be enough to warm up a space that could have been a five-story-high building or some others like my dad might find it to be a “waste of space”, these open spaces contribute a lot to our mental and physical well being.
Feeling of freedom
Right before boarding a cramped flight and upon arrival from a 10-hour long-haul flight, the first thing you might be craving for subconsciously is space. Have you noticed that the high roofed areas tend to be rooms with a large area? Try to imagine the same room with a standard height ceiling, doesn’t it remind you of something? Parking garage maybe? Such large places with normal ceiling would look just awkward.
Airports are a place where people from many countries coexist and interact on a daily basis (sometimes non-stop). While this is great news in terms of globalization, it can also be a challenge from a medical point of view. Passengers might be exposed to non-regional viruses for the entire duration of a flight. If airports were as cramped as planes and wouldn’t allow for any air circulation disease would spread wildfire. By the way, did you know that diseases spread the fastest at New York and LA’s airports?
High ceilings never come alone, these spacious rooms are always accompanied by large windows. These aren’t only meant for passengers to see the plane they are about to board, although airlines must love people to see their huge logos on their planes. When you have such large natural light sources you can pretty much only worry about illuminating these areas at night.
A feeling of safety
One thing you will realize when you are at the gate is a strong feeling of being in public and people being aware of other people the entire time. You will be more aware of it when you are trying to sleep in a weird posture after two connecting flights and still waiting for the third one. This is actually a great advantage of such spacious and well-illuminated rooms. It’s great because it contributes to safety, people know there’s no place for someone to hide and plan some mischief, everyone can easily see the people they will be flying with.
Have you noticed how everything inside airports seems to look like a box or cubicle they could drag around or disassemble if they needed to? If you pay close attention very little of the stuff inside airports seems to be permanently bound to the floor. The globe is constantly changing and so are the requirements of airports. The airport of a city that would host the Olympic games one year will surely require temporal rearrangements. But what happens when the games are over? Then it might be smart to have the original configuration back. A large space without fixed walls would be quite practical in such a situation.