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Carpet in Airports. WHY?!

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Old Feb 22, 17, 4:34 am
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Carpet in Airports. WHY?!

Okay, this is going to be a (probably ridiculous) rant, so here is the quick version:

tl;dr - Carpet is not ideal for rolling suitcases. Airports are full of rolling suitcases. Why in the world would you put carpet in Airports?

I am based out of ORD, so this isn't an issue when I am leaving home, but as soon as I get off the jet bridge at whatever destination, the thing I dread most, is seeing carpet when I step off. I mean, really. I. HATE. IT!

As anyone who travels with a carryon must know, carpet + luggage wheels = UGH! I have never understood why airports insist on using carpet in the airport. It NEVER looks nice (as it only takes about 32 seconds to go from 'freshly installed' to 'the most unsanitary surface known to man'), it must be expensive to maintain, and it absolutely SUCKS for wheeled bags.

I know, some of you are going to say 'try a different bag', but I have tried many, and it's the same story every time. Carpet slows you down and makes pulling a bag worse. Of all the things to complain about, this is obviously ridiculous. I get that, but I just can't understand why it even needs to be a thing. Like for real. Why?

I once ended up chatting with someone who works for the FAA and I was having this same discussion with them. She also agreed that carpet is ridiculous in airports. In fact she told me about how an airport (PHX I think, but I don't recall for sure) was remodeling a terminal a few years back and they spent a ridiculous amount of money finding carpet square replacements during the remodel so that they would match perfectly to the existing ones that didn't have to replaced. She told me it would have been about ⅓ of the cost to just rip up all the carpet and refinish the sub-floor and just use that. GEESH!

I used to travel to FLL quite a bit and I remember that in the US/AA terminal they had carpet by the gates. Then, one day, it was gone...and it was glorious!

When I land in an airport without carpet (especially after a 12 hour flight to) my mind, body and spirit perk up. It is irrational, I know, but that is what happens. When I land at BOM - instant sad face. ZRH? LHR? SZX? Happiness!

Maybe if I could understand WHY airports keep insisting on using carpet I could train myself to appreciate it. I don't know, maybe. I'm open to anyone offering any thought as to why carpet is equal to or better than hard flooring in an airport.

Anyway, I know this was a random rant, but if anyone could sympathize it would be the FT community. Or not. Hopefully there are a few others like me.
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Old Feb 22, 17, 5:20 am
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Carpets can slightly improve acoustics (especially echo). But there are other ways to achieve that.
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Old Feb 22, 17, 6:34 am
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If you want a conspiracy theory, I'd blame the lawyers. They probably pointed out that carpet means less possibility of slip and fall accidents on wet surfaces, less possibility of shattered glass when someone drops something, etc...in general reduced liability.
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Old Feb 22, 17, 6:37 am
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carpets make it feel more luxurious

nice to walk on carpets than on shiny slippery floors.

i can identify certain airports by their carpet patterns.
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Old Feb 22, 17, 6:41 am
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Originally Posted by WhatTheMiguel View Post
Carpet is not ideal for rolling suitcases. Airports are full of rolling suitcases. Why in the world would you put carpet in Airports?
There was a time when rolling luggage was the exception, not the norm.

I have to think, since I usually don't even notice, that maybe the carpeting is just in the gate areas? The long corridors are mostly tile in most airports I think. But I may be just guessing since honestly I have never noticed.
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Old Feb 22, 17, 6:53 am
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Originally Posted by Low Roller View Post
If you want a conspiracy theory, I'd blame the lawyers. They probably pointed out that carpet means less possibility of slip and fall accidents on wet surfaces, less possibility of shattered glass when someone drops something, etc...in general reduced liability.
I guess I can see that. Not enough to make me change my mind about carpet though.


Originally Posted by Peoriaman1 View Post
There was a time when rolling luggage was the exception, not the norm.

I have to think, since I usually don't even notice, that maybe the carpeting is just in the gate areas? The long corridors are mostly tile in most airports I think. But I may be just guessing since honestly I have never noticed.
Ahh, that makes some sense about rolling luggage not being the norm in the past. Maybe that's why I (feel like I) see less carpet in newer or recently refurbished airports?

What I have found, is that sometimes departures is hard flooring, but arrivals are not. That is what annoys me the most. BOM is the perfect example of this. No carpet when leaving, but as soon as you arrive you have a loooooooong walk to Passport Control and you are basically dragging your bag across the carpet after a 10+ hour flight.

Thanks for the replies, all!
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Old Feb 22, 17, 7:28 am
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on the BBC's City in the Sky, they did a piece on the design of airports, and one focus was carpets at ATL i think. The guy said that it helps to differentiate zones, and people feel better with carpet
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Old Feb 22, 17, 7:30 am
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Noise.

Some airports use carpet to aid in Wayfinding. Carpet for the seating areas and a harder surface for the walking areas.

Originally Posted by frobozzelectric View Post
i can identify certain airports by their carpet patterns.
PDX Carpet!
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Old Feb 22, 17, 7:53 am
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Originally Posted by nmh1204 View Post
on the BBC's City in the Sky, they did a piece on the design of airports, and one focus was carpets at ATL i think. The guy said that it helps to differentiate zones, and people feel better with carpet
I'll have to check that out. Without seeing the show yet, couldn't the same be accomplished with tile of various colors? Again, I may be in the minority, but I definitely prefer tile in the main areas of the airport. I'm fine with it at the gate and lounges, but everywhere else - it's tile for me!


Originally Posted by LarryJ View Post
Noise.

Some airports use carpet to aid in Wayfinding. Carpet for the seating areas and a harder surface for the walking areas.



PDX Carpet!
I get the noise issue, but there are other ways to mitigate that. The PDX thing is kind of fun though.
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Old Feb 22, 17, 8:08 am
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Singapore Changi has lovely carpets and even better travellators, (walkways) alongside the carpet.... so you can choose, ...and this does help and explain why Changi standsout.
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Old Feb 22, 17, 8:11 am
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carpetsforairports.com
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Old Feb 22, 17, 8:19 am
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Originally Posted by frobozzelectric View Post
i can identify certain airports by their carpet patterns.
Travelling to the airport isn't sufficient for you to determine where you are?

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Old Feb 22, 17, 8:50 am
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Originally Posted by nmh1204 View Post
on the BBC's City in the Sky, they did a piece on the design of airports, and one focus was carpets at ATL i think. The guy said that it helps to differentiate zones, and people feel better with carpet
I saw that and thought it was interesting. What I saw on that episode though was hard surface in the "hallways" and carpet right by the gates. This differentiation of zones was interesting, but I do agree with the OP that some carpets are just inconvenient to try rolling over.

I like CPH because it has hardwood floors everywhere. I think it looks nice and it's great for rolling. I do wonder about the cost though and I wonder how they keep the floors in good condition.
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Old Feb 22, 17, 9:08 am
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I've never had an issue pulling my bag on carpet. Have I missed the airports that have deep-pile/shag carpeting?

I find the noise of bags rolling across/falling on tile/hard surfaces, and the general noise/echo they cause, to be much more of an issue.
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Old Feb 22, 17, 3:25 pm
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It's interesting how flooring surfaces are different in different parts of the world. The US seems to use a lot of terrazo for hard surfaces or industrial carpet.

I rarely see terrazo elsewhere in the world. It seems common in many places to use tiles of some sort. I find that even more obnoxious than carpet when using wheeled luggage - the constant "thunk, thunk" when going across grout lines magnified by thousands of travelers!
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