Why Providing Individual Space in Airports Makes a Difference

Traveling can take us to fun places, but getting there can be stressful. 

Airports have typically focused on the volume of seating but as travel continues to increase after the height of COVID-19, and dwell time increases in airports as a result, it’s becoming more important to provide passengers with space they can call their own.

We’ve been observing human behavior, and creating innovative designs to accommodate that behavior, in airports and other public spaces for years.

Here are a few things we’ve learned about providing individual space in airports and its benefits:

Airport Cluster Seating for 8 people with walls

Gee Cove at Boston Logan International Airport

Spacing Equals Comfort

We discovered that one of the key elements to feeling comfortable in public spaces lies in a magic number: 12-inches.

Our observations show that your personal bubble extends 12” on either side of you. This is the reason why when given the option to sit next to a stranger or leave a “buffer” seat, people choose the latter option.

Read More: No More Lost Seats in Aviation: 3 Seating Solutions to Consider

By creating this buffer between passengers in furniture design, you provide a stress-free space to place a bag, charge up their devices, and call their own for a period of time. There are many ways to create this space with different seating and table arrangements. The key element for success is accounting for the “stuff” people carry with them.

Gee Pinwheel at FedEx Jumpseat Lounge

Aviation spaces aren’t just about providing places for people to sit. It’s important to consider the reality that most travelers will almost always have at least one to two bags with them at all times. The number of bags people travel with has increased in recent years. 10 years ago, surveys showed that approximately 19% of travelers would only travel with a carry-on. Today, it appears that percentage is closer to 40%. There are many reasons this may be the case, but it is likely in large part due to the fear of losing a bag during travel and the surcharges that many airlines have introduced for checking a bag.

Especially when it comes to beam seating, more bags means travelers have a reason to use the seat next to them as the space for their stuff. When they don’t have a space to place these items, people often begin to feel crowded, confined, and overwhelmed. When they do have space for their stuff, it promotes feelings of comfort, calm, and safety. The space begins to feel like their own.

airport lounge seating with integrated charging tables and access to power

Gee Pinwheel at St Louis Lambert International Airport

We’ve found great effectiveness in evolving our cluster seating for airports because it naturally provides this space while also providing a table to keep your personal belongings and allowing passengers to keep an eye on their luggage.

Seat Orientation Matters

Agati has been making different types of ganged and cluster lounge seating for over a decade. One of the most fascinating discoveries came when we observed how people used them in an airport. Time and time again, people will choose to sit next to each other when they are positioned like our Orb Clusters or Gee Pinwheel, but avoid sitting next to a stranger when seats are in rows.

“Time and time again, people will choose to sit next to each other when they are positioned like our Orb Clusters or Gee Pinwheel, but avoid sitting next to a stranger when seats are in rows.”

Cluster Lounge Seating

Agati Orb Cluster

This simple change of positioning seats into clusters in a way that covers two sides, blocking users off from the flow of traffic around them, provides a sense of comfort and safety in a busy airport. With only a 36-square-foot footprint on a solution like the Orb Cluster, cluster seating can be a great space-saver that increases the utility of your space.

With the outward-facing design, users naturally set their luggage next to them (as opposed to on an adjacent seat in row seating). This way, they are not blocking a usable seat.

Provide a Variety of Options

No one enjoys having a single option, especially when everyone’s needs are so unique in a space like an airport. When their only option is to be packed together shoulder-to-shoulder, it can make for an environment that can feel uncomfortable at best and uninviting at the worst.

As we consider how and where people choose to sit, one thing is certain—we like options! If a traveler is on a business trip, they are going to be more likely to choose a seat with access to power so they can work while they wait. A couple traveling for leisure will likely look for a quiet haven while they wait for their flight to paradise. 

By providing options to travelers you can increase your seating utilization and improve their experience.


Looking to optimize seating and improve your travelers’ experience? Reach out to talk with a furniture expert today >>