Hi all - wow, this forum sure looks different from when I joined 8 years ago...
This question/thread is about technical operations in AIRPORTS, not on planes, so hope some of you out there may have insight.
When one imagines boarding a plane in most airports (at least in the US), your boarding pass is scanned at the door in the gate lounge/departure area, and said door connects you directly to the jetbridge which you walk down and board your aircraft. Simple, right? Indeed - but I've noticed this is not always the standard operating procedure at certain airports, both in the US and internationally. I've linked to some videos which help outline what I'm talking about...more below.
Take a look at DFW for instance. I've connected there several times (love that airport, anyways) over the years in terminals A, C, and D. The thing I remember most about boarding and deplaning there was the longer than normal walk from gate to aircraft, and vice versa. That is - when boarding, the agent scans your boarding pass, then you walk through the gate itself. But instead of that door leading to the jetbridge, it's a hallway. You walk down that hallway, then turn down another hallway, and then down another. Then that connects you with an elevated skybridge. Finally, you reach the jetbridge itself and board. Make sense? Here are some videos that better visualize what I'm talking about:https://youtu.be/lIbTePtWI2Mhttps://youtu.be/FgdI4G4yw_Ehttps://youtu.be/VcfQyX8l3SA
So, why the long walk? Is there some advantage to designing things this way? Does it have something to do with building the terminal/passenger area much higher than ground level, where aircraft are parked?
Now, let's look at LHR, Terminal 5. I had the pleasure of connecting here once and what an experience that was! Literally, like no other airport I've ever seen...and all I even got to see was 1-2 concourses in a single terminal!! Terminal 5 is almost built like a sky loft, where the passenger areas and departure lounges are overlooking gates and parked aircraft below. (Pretty cool, IMO.) So in this case, it's a LONG walk from getting your boarding pass scanned to the aircraft! Sometimes it even involves escalators, stairs, and even more hallways/skybridges. Not too surprising, considering what a castle that airport is (double-entendre...), but I still wonder why one would set things up this way. Video below.https://youtu.be/4haNHy_QGRY
I realize that sometimes this has to do with internationally-configured gates. Let's look at Terminal E in BOS, which actually has 3 different floors that passengers utilize. The 3rd floor is for departing passengers - ticketing, check-in, gate lounges, and the like. Immigration is on the 2nd floor, and then finally customs and the exit doors are on the 1st floor. When departing, the gate connects with an escalator that takes you downstairs to the jetbridge, where you board. This makes for easy international arrivals, as this escalator is never reversed and arriving passengers are simply directed through a set of doors on that same (2nd) level that lead to immigration and customs. Video:https://youtu.be/0xpaeyvLEGI
Finally, let's go back to our friend Terminal D at DFW. It's almost the other way around, in that the immigration area is UPSTAIRS from the departures area. You can see the hallways that lead there from said departures area. In the videos below, you'll also see the 2 x psychically separate doors in the terminal - one leads inside, the other leads upstairs to immigration:https://youtu.be/6tjcs-ySH9Qhttps://youtu.be/veIFF7P35fE
I don't know why, but I've always enjoyed these long walks from terminal to aircraft, like it has that feeling of going downstairs to the Secret Laboratory. Or maybe it just builds up the excitement of traveling someplace...who knows!
Anyone out there well-versed in airport terminal design and can elaborate on why this sort of extra space in between is needed/used? Advantages and disadvantages to one or the other?
Again, I'm not referring to shuttle buses, remote stands, outdoor staircases, or trains - rather all internal, part of the terminal building itself.