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cosyr
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UK Airports, Why Not Wait By The Gate?

Tue Sep 04, 2012 4:49 am

The discussion about the new Luton plans Luton - New Master Plan - Growth For 18 Million... (by gilesdavies Sep 3 2012 in Civil Aviation) got me thinking. Looking at the map of that airport it struck me how different UK and US airports are. Why are most of the airports in the UK and some elsewhere in Europe designed to keep people from going to a gate until the plane is boarding?

My last experience in Gatwick was a stressful cluster of people crammed into a huge hall filled with stores and no place to sit, mixed in right next to the mess of security leading into the crowd. Most people were huddled looking at the boarding signs, waiting for their gate to show up like a train at a train station. It might make sense for trains that show up for 5 minutes, don't know what track they will arrive on until the get there, and set off again within minutes, but planes are generally on the ground for 30 minutes to an hour, and at least in the US, choreographing the gate structure is planned out hours ahead of time. If a gate occasionally changes, people can move, but in the mean time, they can talk to a gate agent if they need to, and go have food, not worrying about where their plane will be, because the gate is listed ahead of time.

I used to think this was a product of the dramatic capacity difference of US and UK airlines in the 60's-80's when most of these airports were designed, but Heathrow Terminal 5 makes me wonder what the difference in thinking is. Yes Terminal 5 does allow you to wait on the concourse, but with this brand new construction they did not build the concourses all the way out to several gates and parking stands. Instead they bus people 1000 feet or so?

If it's a question of supporting retailers, I will suggest that retailers in US airports do fine, and I feel more comfortable shopping when I know how much time I have and where I'm going once it's time to board.

Any thoughts welcome...
 
tonystan
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RE: UK Airports, Why Not Wait By The Gate?

Tue Sep 04, 2012 6:28 am

In my cynical opinion its simply because UK airports are simply shopping malls with aircraft attatched!

With regards T5...The very poor planning that went into its design means that passengers who board the track transit system between T5A and B/C are unable to get back to the main area should a gate change occur. However with T1 is a slightly different matter with domestic passengers being generally directed to gate 8 and ROI passengers to the 70-80s holding area. Everyone else seems to get crammed into the DF area.

I admit I think its a crazy system which does nothing to improve the airport experience for the general customer. Of course if you are a little bit savvy you can generally find somewhere quiet to sit!
My views are my own and do not reflect any other person or organisation.
 
smbukas
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RE: UK Airports, Why Not Wait By The Gate?

Tue Sep 04, 2012 6:37 am

The reason behind is logic, that passenger should spend more time in shopping area, not in gate area.

But in my perspective, this is not a good solution. I have seen studies, which show that relaxed passenger spend more money. And when passengers do not know their gates, they are not relaxed. I have personally done some passenger tracking analysis where I saw that passengers come to the gate, check where the gate is and then go back to shops if they have enough time to do that.
 
anstar
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RE: UK Airports, Why Not Wait By The Gate?

Tue Sep 04, 2012 7:34 am

Are the gate areas large enough to hold all the people for the flight? The T5 ones seem quite small.
 
lukeyboy95
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RE: UK Airports, Why Not Wait By The Gate?

Tue Sep 04, 2012 7:43 am

Quoting tonystan (Reply 1):
With regards T5...The very poor planning that went into its design means that passengers who board the track transit system between T5A and B/C are unable to get back to the main area should a gate change occur.

Poor planning. I don't feel as though T5 was poorly planned. I love the design and find the passenger throughflow very efficient. It is open, airey and bright. IMO I think the planning is fine.

One can get back from B to A, via a hallway shown in a few photos. There are public signs for this, and it would appear that so few people make the mistake, that a main solution not required. Not sure about C. And I don't think gate changes happen all that often between terminals A/B/C? STN also has a system where you can't back track from one of the terminals.

As for gates and shopping. Whilst the design might suggest one thing, UK airports aren't holding a gun to passengers heads to be in the shopping estate. From my experience, gates are announced at the same time as other international airports. If there aren't enough seats at the gate, people usually sit at the next one along.
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SKAirbus
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RE: UK Airports, Why Not Wait By The Gate?

Tue Sep 04, 2012 8:03 am

I quite like Schiphol where the gate is announced the day before in a lot of cases and OSL and ARN. CPH however is a bit different as like LHR it is just a huge shopping centre.
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planejamie
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RE: UK Airports, Why Not Wait By The Gate?

Tue Sep 04, 2012 8:49 am

A few reasons:

1) Duty free (ha! if you're flying Domestic add 20% VAT on to that already high price and going to the EU you have EU taxes) and the airport (especially BAA) get commission from it

2) To keep people from crowding the gate. Unlike in the US the seating areas near gates are quite small in some airports (e.g. LHR T1, MAN T1/T3) and are used frequently so during the time at the airport several flights will use the same gate which means if you keep passengers away from the gates that aren't on that flight it avoids crowding.

3) In LHR T1 where everything is on one level and arriving/departing passengers need to pass through a series of doors that segregate them and then "trap" them in the gate area (at least the old gates did this, like 22-24 or something) so passengers had to sit in the main departures area until all the arriving passengers are cleared out of that area (remember most flights in the UK are international, unlike Europe which has the Schengen zone similar to US domestic flights so arrivals need to be kept separate).

4) As mentioned above, to prevent confusion during a gate change (e.g. LHR T5 would be a nightmare, however there is a 'secret' tunnel that runs from C to B to A that can be walked through so in this case it probably is BAA being greedy with duty free).

Similar sort of thing goes on with the platforms at London Euston

Personally, I like to know what gate I'm going out of but I can see their reasoning behind it. I think CDG had the best advance gate information as they had a boarding pass scanner in arrivals that told you exactly which terminal to go to/which sign to follow which was helpful.
 
Joost
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RE: UK Airports, Why Not Wait By The Gate?

Tue Sep 04, 2012 8:53 am

Quoting cosyr (Thread starter):
Why are most of the airports in the UK and some elsewhere in Europe designed to keep people from going to a gate until the plane is boarding?
Quoting cosyr (Thread starter):
My last experience in Gatwick was a stressful cluster of people crammed into a huge hall filled with stores and no place to sit,

In Europe, I only remember it from LGW, last month. Me too, I found it quite stressful, especially as my flight happened to be delayed. But the new time wasn't displayed yet, so I saw my flight listed as departing within 2 minutes, without a gate.

I also thought it was in order to have people spend more money in the area. But instead, people were only watching screens all the time.

What surprised me most was that, at the gate, there were actually food and drink area's!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 4):
UK airports aren't holding a gun to passengers heads to be in the shopping estate. From my experience, gates are announced at the same time as other international airports.

I actually found LGW very different from many other European airports, including AMS, DUS, FRA, MUC, FCO, MAD, OSL, which all listed gates 30-45 minutes before departure, whereas at LGW it was 10-15 minutes. I don't recall something similar from STN or LTN though, although it's been a while since I used an of these 2 airports.
 
futurestar68
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RE: UK Airports, Why Not Wait By The Gate?

Tue Sep 04, 2012 8:53 am

I always hate waiting in the main area at LHR, waiting for the gate to be announced. And once they announce the gate, the mass of people starts heading towards it and that creates stressful situations for me. Also, if the gate is a 15 minute walk away and they announce the gate 10 minutes prior to boarding time, people get stressed out. And it also takes longer in case a flight is delayed already. So I prefer announcing the gate at least a couple hours in advance.
 
bananaboy
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RE: UK Airports, Why Not Wait By The Gate?

Tue Sep 04, 2012 9:06 am

Quoting cosyr (Thread starter):
My last experience in Gatwick was a stressful cluster of people crammed into a huge hall filled with stores and no place to sit

All UK airports are under very close scrutiny regarding service quality standards such as these, and can be fined if they miss certain targets (conversely, they'll receive a bonus if they consistently beat target). LGW South Terminal has generally performed worse than the North, but during 2010, they beat their targets for seating availability.

http://www.gatwickairport.com/business/performance/sqr-perf-reports/

Having said that, the new owners seem intent on not resting on their laurels and will likely continue to try and further improve the facility.

Quoting cosyr (Thread starter):
If a gate occasionally changes, people can move, but in the mean time, they can talk to a gate agent if they need to, and go have food, not worrying about where their plane will be, because the gate is listed ahead of time.

If a gate changes or they need assistance, they can just head to the central customer service point for their airline or handling agent. Just as easy.

Quoting cosyr (Thread starter):
If it's a question of supporting retailers, I will suggest that retailers in US airports do fine, and I feel more comfortable shopping when I know how much time I have and where I'm going once it's time to board.

They probably do do alright. If the airport operator is taking a cut of the profits, why wouldn't they want to encourage people to spend as much money as possible? As for knowing how much time you have, don't boarding passes state boarding times, in addition to (as far as I remember) the information screens showing what time boarding will begin? You should already know how much time you have, or am I missing something?

As for the original question as to why the difference, I can't answer. I can only guess that the amount of international traffic as a percentage was much higher from European airports than from US airports when orginally designed. Due to this, passengers would be able to buy duty-free and the airports would want to do whatever they could to encourage them, hence lots of retail options in the lounge and few amenities around the gate.

Mark
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bgm
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RE: UK Airports, Why Not Wait By The Gate?

Tue Sep 04, 2012 9:14 am

Another reason is that in the US airlines lease gates at airports, so they know where the planes for Airline X will be arriving/departing. In the UK at least, they are dynamically assigned. With congestion/delays etc, gate availability can change at the last minute so perhaps that's why they don't announce it until the inbound aircraft has arrived.
 
vv701
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RE: UK Airports, Why Not Wait By The Gate?

Tue Sep 04, 2012 10:15 am

In the USA gates are effectiuvely owned and certainly operated by the airlines. Excepting only T5 at LHR (which is an IAG monopoly) this is not the case at major airports in the UK where nearly all gates are multi-airline gates. (Although there are UK gates other than in LHR T5 that are almost exclusively used by a single operator, they have no guarantee of that exclusivity.)

With the airport operator assigning gates on an as needed basis I suspect that gate assignment tends to be in response to the very current situatioin and not to a planned operation.

Advantages: Lower waiting time for a recently arriveed aircraft to be assiogned a gate at peak times.

Disadvantages: See above
 
Lofty
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RE: UK Airports, Why Not Wait By The Gate?

Tue Sep 04, 2012 12:35 pm

The main issue is space many USA airports have more space than they need and have flexibility with-in the stand plan to say the 1400 JFK flight will always depart from Gate 34. Places like LHR excluding T5 are allocated stands as the inbound flight comes over the fence so you have no idea what gate your flight will arrive on.

We do have exceptions being BA T3 Shorthaul as these coach and will be 99.9% certain to depart from Gate 24.

A stable stand plan has been a dream of many airlines operating from LHR and LGW for many years but are no further forward today then 20 years ago. When your stands are so full it only take one delay and the plan goes out of the window and just like the scene from aeroplane you have people running along the concourse following the flight.

Its not shops its due to airports being to small.
 
tonystan
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RE: UK Airports, Why Not Wait By The Gate?

Tue Sep 04, 2012 12:36 pm

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 4):
Poor planning. I don't feel as though T5 was poorly planned. I love the design and find the passenger throughflow very efficient. It is open, airey and bright. IMO I think the planning is fine.

Again opinion but T5 is very crowded. Yes it has natural light, yes it gives an impression of space and is a vast improvement on anything else that exists in the UK but its seats upon seats thrown on top of one another. Getting to certain gates in the T5A boarding area can mean an obstacle course of human bodys.

And although its more of an arrivals problem, have you ever landed in the peak times with the gastappo BAA staff screaming at the mass of people descending onto the train at T5B which already arrivfes full from T5C, as an employee its embarassing to witness!

During our familiarisation training before the terminal opened we were told how it was modelled on Atlanta which was considered one of the most efficient airport designs ever. Shame because Atlanta works, T5 does not! So no, it is not well designed!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 4):
One can get back from B to A, via a hallway shown in a few photos. There are public signs for this, and it would appear that so few people make the mistake, that a main solution not required.

That tunnel is now guarded and passengers are prevented access to it except in exceptional circumstances!
Passengers make the mistake regularly, I witness it all the time.
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r2rho
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RE: UK Airports, Why Not Wait By The Gate?

Tue Sep 04, 2012 12:41 pm

Quoting cosyr (Thread starter):
My last experience in Gatwick was a stressful cluster of people crammed into a huge hall filled with stores and no place to sit, mixed in right next to the mess of security leading into the crowd. Most people were huddled looking at the boarding signs, waiting for their gate to show up like a train at a train station. It might make sense for trains that show up for 5 minutes, don't know what track they will arrive on until the get there, and set off again within minutes, but planes are generally on the ground for 30 minutes to an hour

Yes and you are completely right. Don't look for any logic in it or a design reason behind it; there isn't.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 4):
Whilst the design might suggest one thing, UK airports aren't holding a gun to passengers heads to be in the shopping estate.

A gun no, but maybe more of a knife. If you don't know your gate, cannot move to the gate area at risk of being trapped there, you cannot find a place to sit in the waiting area, and there is not enough physical space to accomodate everyone waiting there anyway, the only space you can "relax" in is in the shops. You have no other choice.

Quoting joost (Reply 7):
found it quite stressful, especially as my flight happened to be delayed. But the new time wasn't displayed yet, so I saw my flight listed as departing within 2 minutes, without a gate.

This IMO is the worst part of the LGW system. Flights are indeed not updated if they are delayed, leading to the situation you describe. Worse, since you don't know when the gate for the delayed flight will be displayed, you are forced to wait staring at the screen for whatever the duration of your delay is. Hence the large groups of people standing around the screens and staring at them while getting increasingly nervous.

Quoting Bananaboy (Reply 9):
why the difference,

My guess is that these airports were laid out for a different era, with no facilities around gates, and this has been conveniently taken advantage of by the current airport/shopping center operators.

Quoting bgm (Reply 10):
Another reason is that in the US airlines lease gates at airports, so they know where the planes for Airline X will be arriving/departing. In the UK at least, they are dynamically assigned.

No excuse. Airports elsewhere in Europe also assign gates dinamycally, yet they do no have this gate [non-]announcement system, and gates are known well in advance, typically 40min.
 
Joost
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RE: UK Airports, Why Not Wait By The Gate?

Tue Sep 04, 2012 2:07 pm

Quoting r2rho (Reply 14):
This IMO is the worst part of the LGW system. Flights are indeed not updated if they are delayed, leading to the situation you describe. Worse, since you don't know when the gate for the delayed flight will be displayed, you are forced to wait staring at the screen for whatever the duration of your delay is. Hence the large groups of people standing around the screens and staring at them while getting increasingly nervous.
Quoting r2rho (Reply 14):
the only space you can "relax" in is in the shops. You have no other choice.

Even worse, in the shops and restaurants there aren't too many screens where you can watch the flight. And then next to the screens, they mention quite long walking distances (up to 15 min IIRC), so when the flight is scheduled in 20 minutes and no gate is displayed yet, people get even more nervous. And don't think about buying a coffee or other hot drink when it's that busy.

Quoting r2rho (Reply 14):
Airports elsewhere in Europe also assign gates dinamycally, yet they do no have this gate [non-]announcement system, and gates are known well in advance, typically 40min.

And small coffee bars around the gates, say at every 12-16 gates, like at AMS or DUS, make it very attractive to walk to the gate, spend EUR 2,50 on a coffee and wait relaxed at the gate.

And I wonder how it affects on-time performance.
 
mogandoCI
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RE: UK Airports, Why Not Wait By The Gate?

Tue Sep 04, 2012 2:10 pm

Not owning the gate is just an excuse - it's all about duty-free greed

HKG gates are not airline owned, and yet they have no trouble assigning gates hours ahead of time. Gate changes are rare, and passengers are always relaxed and ready to shop at their leisure, not the greyhound terminal that LHR T5 feels like during peak hours.

And regarding how gate changes is a nightmare at T5, that's just really poor design - particularly for something brand new.
 
JAAlbert
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RE: UK Airports, Why Not Wait By The Gate?

Tue Sep 04, 2012 2:17 pm

Correct me if I'm wrong, fellow SAN a-netters, but I think the old wing of SAN's terminal two (gates 22 - 32) was designed around this concept of keeping passengers away from the gates. The gates are all situated off a single long corridor that extends from the base of the terminal ending in a "Y" shape. At least in the past, there was minimal seating at the gates themselves and no shops. Instead, passengers were expected to wait in a large seating area at the base of the terminal until their flight was called. Only then did the passengers head to the gate and board the plane immediately.

An example of a design that did not reflect the realities of how people move through (USA) terminals. Instead of waiting in the large seating area, folks trooped down to the gate and hung out in the hall. It caused tremendous crowding in the hall, which is not all that wide or tall. Eventually the authority tried to rectify the situation by bumping out gate lounges on either side of the hall to the extent possible and squeezing in a few shopping and dining venues. The modifications IMHO are not sufficient to accommodate all the passengers and the gate lounges and the hall are frequently filled to overflowing. The Y section can be particularly claustrophobic when several flights are leaving from those gates close in time.

Of course - if cramped, uncomfortable terminals are your thing, SWA's terminal one gates beat any lack of comfort the old wing of terminal 2 provides.
 
ben175
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RE: UK Airports, Why Not Wait By The Gate?

Tue Sep 04, 2012 2:22 pm

SIN's T3 does this too. To enter the gate departuree lounges you must present a boarding pass for a flight using that gate and also undergo another security check.
 
flymia
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RE: UK Airports, Why Not Wait By The Gate?

Tue Sep 04, 2012 2:39 pm

I was stuck in LHR for a bit during one of their winter storms in 2010. Man it sucked. The board just said "PLEASE WAIT" or something like that for hours. At least is could have said delayed. This was T3. What a mess that was. People everywhere, no room to sit. Then we sat at that little gate area for 2 hours and we had to give our passports to the ticket agent when we left the gate area to use the bathroom it really made no sense at all. I prefer the "normal" layout of gates, shops, food all in one. Being able to know where your plane will be and when it plans to board is nice too.

T5 was not bad though. It was odd that there was not much by most of the gates but I found there to be enough by the gate for everyone when I left LHR on a loaded 744.
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nasula
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RE: UK Airports, Why Not Wait By The Gate?

Tue Sep 04, 2012 3:20 pm

Quoting Lofty (Reply 12):

The main issue is space many USA airports have more space than they need and have flexibility with-in the stand plan to say the 1400 JFK flight will always depart from Gate 34. Places like LHR excluding T5 are allocated stands as the inbound flight comes over the fence so you have no idea what gate your flight will arrive on.
....
Its not shops its due to airports being to small.

Unfortunately that is just a poor excuse. Often the flights arrive over an hour before departing again. The excuse doesn't hold water when the complaint is: "why do they announce the gate only 30 minutes before the flight departs".

There's an easy proof to this. I've asked the checkin agent several times when dropping my bags for my flight @T3: "Do you happen to know the gate already". Guess how often I get the real gate? Most of the time. When I go and doublecheck by walking to the gate after passing security, my plane is already there (often 1 hr. before the scheduled departure time). It's just not announced at the screens.

The additional annoyance to this is: I can't go and sit at the gate because "the gate is not open" even though the plane is there already. The problem here is that the final checks are done before the seating area instead of at the door to the tube like most airports. Absolutely silly and annoying to the passenger. I nowadays make it a point to not do any shopping at LHR if I can avoid it due to this annoyance which seems to have no other explanation than shopping optimisation at the expense of passenger stress. It seems I'm not alone in this annoyance.

BTW, the same seems to be true at some UK train stations. I distinctly remember waiting for a train to Cambridge at Kings Cross. You could easily see plenty of vacant platform so it's not track scheduling problems. Then about 10 minutes before the train departure, the track is announced and lo and behold, the train has been there for a while already (I saw it all the time, just didn't know which train was mine). As a result, many of the passengers rush/run to the train because of the late announcement on the big board. Not really a stress free environment when everyone is crowded underneath the big scheduling screen just waiting for the declaration of the platform.
 
aireuropeuk733
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RE: UK Airports, Why Not Wait By The Gate?

Tue Sep 04, 2012 4:26 pm

Quoting bgm (Reply 10):
Another reason is that in the US airlines lease gates at airports, so they know where the planes for Airline X will be arriving/departing. In the UK at least, they are dynamically assigned. With congestion/delays etc, gate availability can change at the last minute so perhaps that's why they don't announce it until the inbound aircraft has arrived.

This is quite correct. At LGW back in the days of Air Europe they were the only airline to have dedicated gates and made a big thing of it as they had the gates closest to the South Terminal to avoid long walks.

Shame they didnt survive to make the most of it!

AE733
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max999
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RE: UK Airports, Why Not Wait By The Gate?

Tue Sep 04, 2012 4:42 pm

Quoting tonystan (Reply 1):
In my cynical opinion its simply because UK airports are simply shopping malls with aircraft attatched!

I think it has been mentioned several times on here that BAA is not in the airport infrastructure business, but they're instead in the retail business.
All the things I really like to do are either immoral, illegal, or fattening.
 
ScottishDavie
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RE: UK Airports, Why Not Wait By The Gate?

Tue Sep 04, 2012 6:33 pm

Quoting cosyr (Thread starter):
My last experience in Gatwick was a stressful cluster of people crammed into a huge hall filled with stores and no place to sit, mixed in right next to the mess of security leading into the crowd.

I went through LGW North en route to EDI last Friday lunchtime and i have some difficulty recognising it from this description. Security was efficient, courteous and anything but a "mess" and there was plenty of seating in the main hall, lounge or whatever you care to call it. BA domestic flights normally go from Gate 55 which has (IIRC) four doors, 55A,B,C and D. I would estimate that the actual gate only has seating capacity for around 150-200 people so even if there is an aircraft at each door passengers cannot be allowed to go to the gate until shortly before boarding otherwise there will be severe overcrowding. The monitors in the hall state clearly when the gate will be announced and this was working fine. Nobody is forced to go shopping and I really don't see what the problem is (apart from the fact that it's not the way things are done elsewhere) although I do admit to finding it annoying that the window seating in the main hall has all been given over to cafes, pubs and the like meaning it's impossible to watch the aircraft without having to buy some overpriced beverage which I don't want in the first place. My "home' airport of EDI doesn't suffer from this and the spotting from the main lounge is superb - it can be hard to tear oneself away when the gate is announced!

[Edited 2012-09-04 11:38:46]

[Edited 2012-09-04 11:46:39]
 
chrisair
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RE: UK Airports, Why Not Wait By The Gate?

Tue Sep 04, 2012 7:50 pm

Quoting JAAlbert (Reply 17):
Of course - if cramped, uncomfortable terminals are your thing, SWA's terminal one gates beat any lack of comfort the old wing of terminal 2 provides.

I've been saying that for years and I'm always told I'm crazy or "it's not that bad" by the San Diego fans here. I'm glad someone has noticed the same thing....
 
lukeyboy95
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RE: UK Airports, Why Not Wait By The Gate?

Tue Sep 04, 2012 8:21 pm

Quoting joost (Reply 7):
I actually found LGW very different from many other European airports, including AMS, DUS, FRA, MUC, FCO, MAD, OSL, which all listed gates 30-45 minutes before departure, whereas at LGW it was 10-15 minutes.

I have to agree... Any times I have been departing from LGW they have left gate allocations to the last minute. But the gate areas were dingy as hell so I didn't mind holding off.

Quoting tonystan (Reply 13):
Getting to certain gates in the T5A boarding area can mean an obstacle course of human bodys.
Quoting tonystan (Reply 13):
So no, it is not well designed!

Clearly you know better than I. I have about 5 experiences of passing through and each went very well. I must have been lucky.

Quoting tonystan (Reply 13):
That tunnel is now guarded and passengers are prevented access to it except in exceptional circumstances!

Oh no! We shouldn't have publicised it so well on the TR forum then. I take it 'exceptional circumstances' are not having enough time to go back through security. And you say you see a load of passengers straying that way by mistake? Well... all sorts in airports!
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kdhurst380
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RE: UK Airports, Why Not Wait By The Gate?

Tue Sep 04, 2012 8:29 pm

I always think this with Pier 6 at LGW, it's quite a large area and is almost an offshoot of the North Terminal departure lounge in itself, even to the point that there's a Wetherspoon pub in it that I've never seen anyone use because they call people to the gate maybe 10 minutes before boarding!
 
Viscount724
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RE: UK Airports, Why Not Wait By The Gate?

Tue Sep 04, 2012 8:37 pm

Quoting SKAirbus (Reply 5):
I quite like Schiphol where the gate is announced the day before in a lot of cases

Gate numbers are changed quite often at AMS, especially for shorthaul flights, but they're announced. The difference between AMS and LHR is that AMS was designed from the beginning to facilitate connections, and few airports do a better job. LHR was designed more with O&D traffic in mind, and the multiple terminal layout has always made connections inconvenient and unpleasant.
 
cmf
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RE: UK Airports, Why Not Wait By The Gate?

Tue Sep 04, 2012 8:58 pm

Quoting joost (Reply 15):
And then next to the screens, they mention quite long walking distances (up to 15 min IIRC), so when the flight is scheduled in 20 minutes and no gate is displayed yet, people get even more nervous.

I think this is the real problem. There are plenty of reasons why keeping people waiting in a central location is a good solution but they all fall apart when gate assignments and delay information is updated slowly.
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AirlineCritic
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RE: UK Airports, Why Not Wait By The Gate?

Tue Sep 04, 2012 9:59 pm

Quoting r2rho (Reply 14):
A gun no, but maybe more of a knife. If you don't know your gate, cannot move to the gate area at risk of being trapped there, you cannot find a place to sit in the waiting area, and there is not enough physical space to accomodate everyone waiting there anyway, the only space you can "relax" in is in the shops. You have no other choice.

And not only that. They expressly ask you to not go to the B/C gates until your flight is confirmed to leave from there.

Yes I did go there anyway. And yes the flight ended up leaving from some other part of the terminal. And - you guessed it - the train back to the main terminal forces you to go out and back through security. Fail.

(Luckily there is a tunnel underneath the train tracks, if you take the tunnel then that does not force you to return outside the security perimeter. I recommend the tunnel anyway, it is an interesting experience.)

Bad planning. Minor improvement (perhaps) for the increased tax free sales. Major inconvenience for the passengers. But you know who they airport owners asked from.
 
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eurowings
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RE: UK Airports, Why Not Wait By The Gate?

Tue Sep 04, 2012 10:00 pm

UK airports have been withholding gate information for as long as I can remember (no it's not just BAA who do it), in fact as a child I used think it was strange that you'd know the gate so early elsewhere. I found it quite exciting waiting for the gate to appear and I thought it was part of the "airport/holiday experience".

Nowadays, I see that it's clearly about keeping people shopping or in the restaurants/bars/cafes for as long as possible. Or at least that's what the airport operators think it does. More recently some airports have been posting "gate opens in XX minutes", but at MAN that sometimes seems to get stuck at "5 minutes" for ages, and then eventually reverts to "please wait". I suspect this worries people more than anything.

I tend to find the worst scenes happen when it's a free seating flight (i.e. Ryanair, easyJet or Wizzair) where passengers travelling in groups crowd anxiously around a monitor and then they SPRINT when the gate appears on screen.

Quoting nasula (Reply 20):
TW, the same seems to be true at some UK train stations. I distinctly remember waiting for a train to Cambridge at Kings Cross. You could easily see plenty of vacant platform so it's not track scheduling problems. Then about 10 minutes before the train departure, the track is announced and lo and behold, the train has been there for a while already (I saw it all the time, just didn't know which train was mine).

That only tends to happen at terminal stations. The platform numbers aren't announced because cleaning (and if applicable catering replenishment e.t.c) need to take place in the often short turnaround time (sometimes as little as 20 minutes for a very high capacity InterCity train). Basically, it's to keep people away from the train to ensure this is done as quickly as possible.

[Edited 2012-09-04 15:04:24]
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brilondon
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RE: UK Airports, Why Not Wait By The Gate?

Tue Sep 04, 2012 10:16 pm

Quoting SKAirbus (Reply 5):

I quite like Schiphol where the gate is announced the day before in a lot of cases and OSL and ARN. CPH however is a bit different as like LHR it is just a huge shopping centre

I like AMS as well because of the way it is planned. There is always a shopping mall at airports any more because of the ancillary revenue being created. If you don't like that type of experience then don't go to the airport so early but give enough time as you feel comfortable. Then you go right to the gate and hop on your aircraft.
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LX138
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RE: UK Airports, Why Not Wait By The Gate?

Tue Sep 04, 2012 10:55 pm

It is annoying and the fact is BAA is run mainly by a board of accountants. 90% of the conversation during board meetings is likely about what can be done to increase revenue, and particularly revenue per passenger. The last 10 years have seen a huge amount of effort made to squeeze absoloutely every penny out of as many people as possible that travel through BAA airports. It's no secret that many investors regularly invest in BAA, including lately a Qatari Fund, due to the increased returns that BAA can provide over the years, and this in itself means those investors often demand dividend payments which BAA need to find money for to pay them.

Quoting cosyr (Thread starter):
If it's a question of supporting retailers, I will suggest that retailers in US airports do fine,

I probably don't need to see stats to conclude that BAA airports rake in significantly more retail revenue than their US counterparts.

Quoting cosyr (Thread starter):
but in the mean time, they can talk to a gate agent if they need to, and go have food, not worrying about where their plane will be, because the gate is listed ahead of time.

I laughed when I read this because in the US they are very good at having large amounts of well staffed gates - and so that should remain. But in the UK - having staff at a gate is usually done at the last possible minute when the flight needs to be boarded/prep'd for boading. Airlines here generally see passengers coming up and asking questions at gates as a major inconvenience - and having a visable presence at a gate before boarding usually acts as a magnet for people asking for upgrades/seat changes/toilet directions/etc. This has become more an issue with the rise of low cost airlines like Ryanair and Easyjet - who when they have a delay often do not announce it - leading to hoards of passeners going to gates to ask questions about why there is a delay/food vouchers/refunds/complaints/heated rows/etc.

So the answer has been to keep passengers in shopping areas 'forcing' them to shop and not incovenience often very stretched handling agents and airlines until there is an aircraft waiting to be boarded.
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phatfarmlines
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RE: UK Airports, Why Not Wait By The Gate?

Wed Sep 05, 2012 12:38 am

Quoting JAAlbert (Reply 17):
Correct me if I'm wrong, fellow SAN a-netters, but I think the old wing of SAN's terminal two (gates 22 - 32) was designed around this concept of keeping passengers away from the gates. The gates are all situated off a single long corridor that extends from the base of the terminal ending in a "Y" shape. At least in the past, there was minimal seating at the gates themselves and no shops. Instead, passengers were expected to wait in a large seating area at the base of the terminal until their flight was called. Only then did the passengers head to the gate and board the plane immediately.

There were several terminals in the U.S. designed like this. The old Eastern Terminal 1 at JFK was like this, as was the Comair Concourse C in CVG. And going back in the time machine from a 2008 post, Terminal 3E in DFW was originally built with two large holdrooms where people waited - this was modified sometime in the early 80's to it's current configuration of having seats at each gate.

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mpsrent
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RE: UK Airports, Why Not Wait By The Gate?

Wed Sep 05, 2012 12:57 am

I can appreciate the limited notice for quick turn around low cost carrier flights but I don't understand why they wait so long to announce a gate for a trans Atlantic flight when the aircraft has been at the gate for hours. I've flown both short haul and trans Atlantic out of MAN T1 and they provide you with the same gate notice regardless of aircraft size. It's one thing to watch 75 people rushing to a gate, it's another thing when it is 250 people.

Another issue is the fact that most gates appear to be designed for small short haul flights with limited terminal seatting capacity. When I flew out of MAN last week on an Air Transat A330 they had us at gate 27 which is essentially a narrow hallway. The boarding process became a safety issue as people wishing to pass through to other gates had little chance of getting through due to the congestion. While I will give them the benefit of the doubt that when the aircraft landed earlier in the day all of the higher number gates with better seating areas were full, I'm not so sure that was the case.

I too have been left with the impression that the strategy is to keep you in the shopping area as long as possible followed by a mad rush to the gate.
 
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vanguard737
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RE: UK Airports, Why Not Wait By The Gate?

Wed Sep 05, 2012 1:20 am

Quoting smbukas (Reply 2):
But in my perspective, this is not a good solution. I have seen studies, which show that relaxed passenger spend more money. And when passengers do not know their gates, they are not relaxed.

  

I consider myself a well-travelled person, and rarely am I anxious at an airport. LHR on the other hand, is a different story.

I recall last year especially, returning from FRA to ORD via LHR. After waiting through security lines worse than anything I have seen at ORD, I was cast into a swirling pool of confused travelers, each one wondering where they are to go and looking at the gate announcement boards like gamblers at a race track.

I sat on the floor for two hours before I finally was given a gate. I finally was graced with a gate assignment (a 20 minute walk) only to find that all the seats were blocked off until 15 minutes before boarding...so I sat on the the floor again until boarding.

At which point I was pulled out of line by security or customs personnel (I cannot recall which) and was asked 20 questions as to why I was at LHR. They then sifted through my carry on and told me I was free to go. I was last to board and at that point was very thankful I chose Germany as my vacation destination and not the UK!
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tjcab
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RE: UK Airports, Why Not Wait By The Gate?

Wed Sep 05, 2012 2:40 am

Quoting smbukas (Reply 2):
I saw that passengers come to the gate, check where the gate is and then go back to shops if they have enough time to do that.

and that is exactly what I do. get to my gate and use it as a beacon. then knowing my boarding time, i know how far i can venture and how much time i have for anything else
 
tonystan
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RE: UK Airports, Why Not Wait By The Gate?

Wed Sep 05, 2012 10:40 am

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 25):

Oh no! We shouldn't have publicised it so well on the TR forum then. I take it 'exceptional circumstances' are not having enough time to go back through security. And you say you see a load of passengers straying that way by mistake? Well... all sorts in airports!

Crickey little less of the scarcyness and lets listen to some facts in, I know you love T5 and all! The tunnel under the track transit system is intended as a service tunnel only. Yes it can be accessed for those who wish to walk from T5A to B (I think C too but havent been down there recently) but you are not permitted to return back to A. The "exceptional circumstances" are when the track transit system is down or if your flight has had a gate change so NO you cannot use it if you accidently go to a satellite which is why there are now MASSIVE signs at the top of the lifts to the trains and on the platforms that you must NOT board a train unless you are sure your flight is departing from one of the satelites. Now I am aware that if someone does make this error there are some staff who will assist you through the tunnel but I am unsure if this is common practice as we have been told officially failure to comply can result in you having to return via the arrivals channels on the train and reclearing customs before having to return to departures and undergo security all over again!

Dont shoot the messenger, I work in the place and have done from the very first aircraft to arrive into T5 (yes I was on that flight from HKG!)

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 25):
Clearly you know better than I. I have about 5 experiences of passing through and each went very well. I must have been lucky.

Indeed. You should see it at peak times, I am assuming you have never been through in peak times as the gates in A area are renowned for getting congested. And you clearly have missed the mess that can be arriving into T5. Oddly enough it has been earily quiet through the Olympics but lets not forget the images of carnage on the news not so long ago!

Now back to my original comment that clearly hit a nerve with you for some odd reason! IMHO what the BAA should have done with the track transit system in T5 is what they did in FRA where the train has 2 sections, one airside and one landside allowing passengers access to whichever section they need. If the rear carraige of the T5 track transit only permitted airside transfers (doors opening corresponding to those wishing to stay in the gated areas of A/B/C) and vice versa for those arriving! Get what Im saying???

[Edited 2012-09-05 03:42:49]

[Edited 2012-09-05 03:47:35]
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9VSIO
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RE: UK Airports, Why Not Wait By The Gate?

Wed Sep 05, 2012 5:04 pm

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 4):
From my experience, gates are announced at the same time as other international airports.

At SIN, HKG, BOS just to name a few, I knew my gate immediately upon check-in a good few hours before the flight. I can't remember about NRT and the other airports I've travelled to recently though.

Quoting Ben175 (Reply 18):
you must present a boarding pass for a flight using that gate and also undergo another security check.

Actually, most of the time it's the ONLY security check you go through.

Quoting nasula (Reply 20):
I distinctly remember waiting for a train to Cambridge at Kings Cross.

This has always perplexed me. In some cases, it is understandable as sometimes the train is turned around immediately upon arrival. At other times, like you've mentioned, the train has been sitting there for ages. I suspect the station staff just like to see the mad dash for the train. There's probably a betting pool somewhere!
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