A byword for fun? Airports have a fairway to go

A byword for fun? Airports have a fairway to go

Mini-golf anyone? Mark Elliott looks at the facilities airports really should provide

Mini-golf anyone? Mark Elliott looks at the facilities airports really should provide

What better way to pass time waiting for a flight?
What better way to pass time waiting for a flight?

Let’s play a little game psychiatrists call ‘word association’….

I say a word, you respond with what immediately comes into your head. For example, I say ‘cruise ship’, you say ‘pensioners’. I say ‘Dreamliner’, you say ‘grounded’. I say ‘airport’, you say…

What do you say about airports nowadays? Normally the auto-response would be something negative like ‘delay’ or ‘queue’. But could airports actually become fun places? A survey last week by those serial pollsters Skyscanner found that most people want airports to have cinemas.

Yes, apparently air passengers are not content with watching movies while onboard their flights; they also want to catch a full-length flick before boarding, or during a long transit period. Okay fine, but not for me.

No, I believe we need airports to provide something a bit more fun – something that kills time, but not so much time that you need to arrive at an airport hours earlier than usual, or that leaves you in danger of missing your flight.

So how about golf? An outdoor driving range would be a wonderful addition to an airport, letting travellers whack a few balls while they wait (with a well-positioned net to protect the flight path, naturally). Or maybe go-karting; a few laps around the track would be a fantastic way to while away the waiting time. Or ten-pin bowling, or snooker, or bungee jumping, or laser tag, or, or…

The possibilities are endless! And the more you think about it, the more you realise that airports aren’t investing nearly enough thought or money in providing passengers what they really need. We’re bored of buying giant Toblerones and cheap perfume. We’re bored of shopping for handicrafts and electric gadgets. We’re even bored of going to Burger King. What we need is a genuinely fun way to pass the time.

We don’t want to be at airports; we want to be at home or at our destination. But the least they can do is provide a little light entertainment while we wait. Maybe then we’d change our opinion of airports to something a little more positive. ‘Airport’, ‘mini-golf’. Why has no-one associated those words before?

Mark Elliott
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