Why airport gates are so damn far apart

Back when my wife & I lived in Austin, I had an errand in which I was supposed to go pick up a couple (mutual friends who were moving there) from the airport. I went at the duly appointed time to pick them up, no sign of them. Went up and down the terminal, no sign of them. Meanwhile my wife was receiving increasingly frantic calls from them, wondering where we were. I called the airport police to see if anyone had encountered trouble, but they hadn’t heard anything. Turns out they got off in HOW-ston, thinking they’d already reached OW-stin. Then they got grifted while they waited for us to make the 2.5+ hour drive to HOW-ston.

Then there’s Ontario

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Airports cover their operating expenses in large part through the store lcations - no local taxes usually go to support operations. Every square foot of retail is determined by how much rent plus MAG they can get from it. Some things are there just so they can have the services - like luggage carts - but inline stores have to produce or they’re gone.




I actually bought my Tumi bag at the Houston airport during a layover. My trusty 10 year Samsonite bit the dust en-route and I wasn’t going to schlep a broken suitcase around London for a week. Yes, it’s expensive but well worth it.


That all makes perfect sense. But airports are huge conglomerations of people experiencing “edge cases” in their lives. Most travelers in an airport are having somewhere between a fairly unusual and extremely unusual day just by virtue of being there. A certain percentage of them didn’t wake up knowing they were going to have to rush to get on a plane. Another portion of them are there on someone else’s nickel. Others are having the kind of once-in-a-lifetime experience where normal rules about frugality or practicality get tossed out the window. And so forth.

Basically, if the product or service you’re selling provokes the “who on earth would pay above-retail prices for that?!” response, then the airport is a pretty good place to be. Tons of people, captive audience, weird circumstances, high through-put.


Officially, I don’t approve. But as a cranky, quick-to-complain, able-bodied jerk who is exactly the kind of person this would work on, I can respect it.


I was on a flight that quite literally spent more time taxiing to the terminal at O’Hare than it had in the air from Madison.


Looks like your experience wasn’t unusual.

The flight time from Chicago to Madison is 52 minutes. The time spent in the air is 27 minutes. The flight distance from Chicago to Madison is 108 Miles.

Be sure to check in three hours before your scheduled flight


That’s because they’re terrible.

Or maybe it’s just that Dulles is terrible and that’s ruined my perception.

Huh. Just eyeballing that photo, I’d have been sure it was at least a half mile from one tip to the furthest tip.

Almost a mile across. Perhaps they are guaranteeing that connecting flights will never be on opposite spokes. (laughing)

Or just calculating from the center only, which is misleading at best.



from this article:


That’s wild! I had no idea that they planned mobile lounges for DCA.

Mid-Century design guy Charles Goodman was the lead achitect for the original airport structure. He went on to design a bunch of mid-century homes around the DC area.


This was the subject of a lateral thinking puzzle on friend of the blog Futility Closet’s podcast

It’s right there in your original quote:

between security checkpoints and the remotest gates.

So, definitely misleading - perhaps useful for passengers traveling to/from Beijing rather than connecting, but even then, I wonder how long the walk is from the metro platform to security. Based on my experience riding on metros and HSR in China - probably too damn far.

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Can confirm. I would drive to Madison, not fly, in order to save time (and have a car at my disposal once I got there).


I don’t see the problem. :wink:

Greenville, NC is pronounced “Green-Vul”
Greenville, SC is pronounced “Grin-Vill”


I know my perceptions about the amount of time I have on average to make my connection is subjective, and affected by confirmation bias, so I tend to not complain too much, even if I have to walk a mile. That just means last time, and probably the last four times, I only had to walk several hundred feet.

Except for Charlotte. I have missed every connection I have ever had through that cursed airport. I got up to five before I vowed to never connect through CLT ever again.


Well said.

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