Airports can and are adapting to a world post-Covid, with new technologies, cleaning protocols, and passenger processing. What changes might we see in airports in the next five years? And how will this influence furniture in airports?
With less dangerous but more contagious variants, business traffic has been rebounding in 2022. With so many planes available, airlines may begin to offer more competitive fares, to increase traveller traffic. And pent-up demand for leisure travel will also help to support an airport rebound.
Changing passenger expectations
The pandemic has irrevocably shifted travellers’ expectations of the experience. Whether a passenger has just minutes or several hours before their flight, they increasingly need seating that preserves their personal space, provides charging options, and creates a sense of calm in a busy environment. They also need to feel that their wellbeing has been considered throughout the space.
At UFL, we’re inspired to help airports adapt to meet the comfort needs of travellers, by offering modern colour palettes and natural materials. Soft seating can bring a domestic familiarity and human scale to these vast and often stressful and confusing spaces. While we continue to focus on innovation in breakout spaces and power integration, well designed and made mass/beam seating still has an essential role to play in passenger processing and comfort.
Greater health and safety measures
As well as hygiene and safety protocols, more vaccination coverage, lifting of travel restrictions and rising confidence will bring passengers back to airports. The emergence of new variants though, mean airports need to be flexible and adaptable throughout what is likely to be a stop-start recovery.
Airports worldwide have been quick to adopt enhanced safety measures to enable travellers to feel more confident about encountering crowds, while uneven vaccination rates throughout the world continue to impact international passenger numbers. To protect this confidence, we recommend furniture that can withstand more frequent and rigorous cleaning protocols, while supporting natural physical distancing.
UFL recommends: our top 6 airport furniture picks
Airports must become more streamlined
IATA data indicates that passenger processing times have ballooned to three hours during peak travel times, despite much lower traveller numbers. Elements of off-site processing may become a bigger part of air travel, while airports must feel more seamless, enabling passengers to do themselves, on or off site, what they once did at the check-in counter.
UFL’s unique ability is to create a sense of cohesion and maintain quality and durability, by supplying products throughout the airport – from the point of entry to when a passenger boards their flight. This includes customised check in counters, food court and retail fit outs, to VIP lounge furniture gate seating, passenger guidance, tape barriers and trolleys.
Kiik, by Ichiro Iwasaki for Arper
Brilliant for creative workplaces, but equally comfortable in the hustle and bustle of passenger lounges and waiting areas, Kiik’s modular seating configurations offer infinite possibilities. Upholstered seating offers integrated charging ports and is complemented by free standing consoles and ottomans for flexibility.
La Isla, by Studio Note for Sancal
Spanish design house Sancal calls La Isla ‘an enticing destination in a sea of nothingness’. Its curvaceous cosiness is definitely inviting. The range continues to evolve and now includes integrated power and USB charging – making La Isla ‘islands’ the perfect waiting spots.
Soft Facet by Scholten & Baijings for Artifort
A comfortable, inviting ‘business class’ armchair with elegant details, Soft Facet’s open, welcoming form is a soft embrace, inviting the user to sit back, relax and wait for the boarding call. The wooden shell’s entire contour is foam-padded, gently cradling the head, neck, and body, and comfortably adapting to any sitting posture.
Nuez Lounge BIO® by Patricia Urquiola for Andreu World
Another VIP armchair, this one boasts impressive green credentials. Its biodegradable and compostable thermo-polymer shell comes not from fossil fuels, but living microorganisms, with a sustainability profile like that of its FSC® certified wooden base. Upholstery is made from recycled PET bottle plastics and textile waste, while foam is both 100% recycled and 100% recyclable. The design is easily reupholstered, with removable, replaceable parts, enabling it to fit within a circular economy of materials. This is a lounge chair for relaxation spaces, and features a high back for a sense of privacy.
Lottus, by Lievore Altherr Molina for Enea
Lottus is lightweight, ergonomic seating solutions. Equally at home and in public and intimate environments, its design offers flair in any context. Thanks to the broad range of materials and finishes available, this collection has a wealth of possibilities.
Alpha by UFL Design Lab
This modern beam seat family offers a simple, architectural aesthetic for mass seating. Alpha’s modular design enables multiple creative configurations while maintaining a sleek, uniform look. Alpha is both comfortable and spacious – with ergonomic back support, and cut-outs for easy cleaning and a sense of spaciousness.