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"Arrivals" list inside secure airport terminals

  1. Jul 28, 2015 #1

    collinsmark

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    Why are "Arrivals" displayed, along side the more important "Departures," within the secure areas in airport terminals? (By that I mean in the public areas that you need a boarding pass to get to, and areas that are within the secure side of the security station.) [Edit: I understand the need for "Departures." I'm asking about the "Arrivals" list.]

    I was in a somewhat large international airport recently and I noticed that 1/2 of all the monitors were dedicated to displaying the flight "Arrivals." That seemed like a lot of monitors wasted that could otherwise be displaying the "Departures" information, that everybody was crowded around.

    I totally understand the necessity for "Arrivals" list on the other side of security -- for example near the baggage claim -- where it would be useful for somebody picking others up from an airport. But why on Earth would it be useful for somebody on the secure side?

    I had a about an hour and a half layover, so I decided to ask around: shopkeepers, bartenders, other passengers, airline employees, and anyone who didn't ignore me or run away. Nobody seemed to know the answer. It's strange, because when they started to answer they seemed as if the answer was obvious, and that they certainly knew it, but then they inevitably stopped themselves, and said, "..Oh yeah. I guess I would be looking at the 'Departures' then. Hmm. Well, I don't know."

    I did learn that airline employees do not rely on the publicly displayed "Arrivals" and "Departures" to do their job. They get the information from elsewhere. As a matter of fact, they are the ones who ultimately update the information that gets put on the "Arrivals" and "Departures" publicly displayed lists. So these publicly displayed lists are for the passengers, not the employees.

    I was fortunate enough to sit right next to an off-duty flight attendant on my connecting flight. Based on her testimony, I can come up with about two scenarios where the information might be useful:

    Scenario 1:
    • You are flying from Omaha to Cancun, but have a layover in Denver where you will meet up with another party coming from Wichita. You and your other party plan to meet at the Denver airport where you both have a layover, and then fly together on the same flight to Cancun.
    • And you have a very long layover in the Denver airport, such that the flight to Cancun has not yet been assigned a gate.
    • And the first leg of your flight does not arrive simultaneously with the other party's flight (otherwise by the time you de-board the plane and check the monitors, both of your "arriving" flights would have been removed from the list since both flights have already arrived."
    That way, whoever arrives first can meet up with the other party at his/her arrival gate and hang out for a beer until you know the gate at which the Cancun flight departs from. (On the other hand, if you knew which gate the Cancun flight departs from, you would just meet there. That's the need for the long layover bullet for this scenario to be applicable.) So I guess that might make sense. Sort of.

    [Edit: I suppose the "Arrivals" list might also be useful if you were the first to arrive and you discovered that the Cancun flight was cancelled. That way you have a hook to meet up with the other party and make other plans. Well, assuming you didn't check any bags. If the flight was cancelled, you likely might have to recheck you bags, and in which case you might as well meet in the baggage claim anyway.]

    Scenario 2:
    • You are meeting up with a secret lover. You both pick flights such that you'll both have layovers in the same airport terminal. The "Arrivals" list will allow you to find your amor without relying on your cell-phone, thus you don't have to worry about cell-phone records which can be checked by another.
    • You both lead very busy lives and have to get on connecting flights soon after because you are both very busy (otherwise you could just meet in baggage claim and then go to a hotel or something -- but you don't have time for that.)
    Are these scenarios really common enough to dedicate 1/2 of all monitors to displaying "Arrivals" in secure regions of the airport?

    Can you think of any other common scenarios that would justify 1/2 of these monitors dedicated to "Arrivals"?
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2015
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  3. Jul 28, 2015 #2

    fzero

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    At a large airport, in the middle of the day, almost all of the departing planes were arrivals a couple of hours before. So the general trend of delayed arrivals can be used to gauge what the true rate of delayed departures is going to be, even if the airlines have been overly optimistic in not announcing delays. Furthermore, you might be able to find out exactly which arriving flight is providing the exact equipment scheduled for a particular departure, which would give an even more reliable estimate of the actual departure delay.

    I'm not sure that one needs arrivals displayed everywhere that departures are displayed (one could conserve screens by having several pages rotated through on a single screen), but it's useful to have.
     
  4. Jul 28, 2015 #3

    russ_watters

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    If the displays are more than 14 years old, then they would have pre-dated 9/11 and the security checkpoints.
     
  5. Jul 28, 2015 #4

    collinsmark

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    They were large, thin, flat screen monitors (I'm assuming LCD monitors) for what it's worth. Of course that says nothing about the underlying system feeding the monitors' inputs.
     
  6. Jul 28, 2015 #5

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    It makes sense that one might use arrival delays as a possible "heads-up" about potential delays down the road.

    But can you walk me through how you might use a particular set of arrival gate and time information to your advantage? What specifically would you do with this information (as in more than just satisfying curiosity -- what would you do with this information in a way that changes your itinerary or flight plans)?

    A couple of things to keep in mind when answering,
    • Even if you knew where the airplane of your scheduled flight is coming from, it's not out of the realm of possibilities that the airline will assign a different plane to that flight at the last minute. This happened to me before: The plane was a different type of plane than the originally scheduled one and my chosen seating assignment was changed because the new plane had a different seating layout. So one still is well advised to keep an eye on the "Departures" list in any case; a delayed arrival is not an absolute 1-to-1 guarantee of a delayed departure.
    • Would the scenario also apply to people who are not particularly tech savvy? Those people who don't know how to find or don't have the ability to find the airline's flight plans for individual airplanes?
     
  7. Jul 28, 2015 #6

    fzero

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    Personally, I haven't flown often enough for it to be too useful. I've probably given a heads up to people I was meeting that I'd be late, etc., but I've never had an opportunity to change my plans over it.

    There's no guarantee, but if you're not at an airport that is a major hub for the particular airline, then there is almost zero probability that there is an extra plane lying around for a substitute. It's more likely that the flight would be canceled entirely or an empty plane would be ferried in if the scheduled equipment could not service the flight for whatever reason.

    Of course not. My post was more about what to do with that information given that it's there. I'm sure that part of the reason arrival displays are still there is because, as russ waters said, pre-9/11 it made sense. Evidently the airports and airlines still think there's enough use for them to justify the cost, which probably isn't much.
     
  8. Jul 31, 2015 #7

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    I thought of another scenario. It arguably is a subset of Scenario 1, but might also apply to a twist in Scenario 2. I think it could be common enough for a unique mention. Since I used the Denver airport in my last example, I'll use it again for consistency.

    Scenario 3:
    • You are flying from Omaha to Denver. You are meeting another party in Denver, flying in from Wichita. Rather than have layover in Denver, you and the other party plan to remain there -- leaving the airport -- even if it's just for a short time.
    • And neither of you check any bags. Either you are staying a short time, or you plan to get new clothes on a Denver shopping spree once you arrive. (Or the bulk of your clothes are arriving in Denver by some other means.) All bags that you have are carry-on bags. There's no point in meeting in baggage claim since neither of you checked any bags.
    • And the first leg of your flight does not arrive simultaneously with the other party's flight (otherwise by the time you de-board the plane and check the monitors, both of your "arriving" flights are at risk of being removed from the list since both flights have already arrived).
    • And you plan to share a taxi cab or equivalent method of transport with the other party to your destination in Denver.
    The idea that nobody checks any bags is increasingly common these days. Pre-9/11 it was common that your first two checked bags were free. Until even recently your first checked bag was free. But now there is a trend that no checked bags are free. So now flying with no checked bags is not just a matter of the convenience of skipping baggage claim, it's a matter of finance.

    Combine that with a reduction of smoking (smokers tend to rush out the door to get their post-flight cigarette) and I suppose it makes sense that one might hang out in the destination airport terminal and meet other arriving parties there. So that might be enough to explain the "Arrivals" list.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2015
  9. Jul 31, 2015 #8
    That's what I thought. Maybe it's just inertia: The info used to be quite valuable when we could pick up guests at their gates. Maybe no one has thought to change it.
     
  10. Jul 31, 2015 #9

    Vanadium 50

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    I travel a lot. I have yet to see an airport with as many arrivals monitors as departures monitors. I think you're all trying to explain the exception, not the rule.
     
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