The 5 Best (& 5 Worst) Things to Show on Airport TVs

Airports can be a stressful place for travellers. In big airports, there is constant commotion, with people dashing off to their destinations, anxiously checking their boring passes, announcements over the intercom that can often be hard to know whether the information being conveyed applies to you or not.

On the other hand, waiting around in airports can be extremely boring. Travellers are in an unfamiliar environment (unless you are a frequent flyer), and there is often a severe lack of things to do or things to keep one’s attention that will make the hours pass by faster. Of course, airports are fighting an uphill battle. The travellers are not the only people trying to understand and interpret lots of information.

The airport staff must constantly monitor flight data, deal with unhappy travellers (and this unhappiness often comes from a misunderstanding about flight information), convey important information about flights to a diverse set of travellers, all the while making sure that everyone is safe. When it comes to entertaining passengers, there are some airports that have taken this mission to the next level.

Some airports have included museums, movie theatres, mini golf courses, and even swimming pools with jacuzzis. Of course, not all airports have the facilities or funding to provide such entertainment to travellers. For most airports, eating establishments, consumer goods shops, and bars are the typical places of comfort and entertainment. Of course, entertainment is not the only things that airports try to provide their travellers. Information is key as well.

Airport TVs are an incredible solution for providing both entertainment and conveying information. And unlike swimming pools and movie theaters, TVs are common and practical for most airports. Since airport TVs can be such an important part of the traveller’s experience in an airport, this article covers the 5 best and the five worst things to show on airport TVs.

The 5 Best Things to Show on Airport TVs

1. Kids Programming

As many parents know, waiting around in airports can be a lot more difficult for kids than it is for adults. This of course, makes travelling through airports difficult for parents since they often have to deal with kids who, because they are in an environment that does not let them engage in activities that normally provide them with entertainment, will often act out and make the experience harder for the parents.

So both the kids and the parents are suffering, and that is a situation that could ideally be avoided. One great solution that the airport can provide for families that are travelling with younger kids is to have TVs that are showing programming that would be entertaining for kids, so the kids can enjoy themselves more and the parents can get some well deserved rest. Of course, deciding what kids programming to show can be a difficult decision to make.

One of the primary reasons for this difficulty is that parents often have different opinions about what kind of content is appropriate for their child. For some parents, the shows that one might find on nickelodeon is completely fine while for other parents, such shows are not an acceptable form of entertainment for their child. Where there are potential conflicts of opinion over the right source of entertainment for children, the airport clearly should not weigh in on the matter.

Luckily there is children's programming that is acceptable to nearly all parents. One great example is nature programming. There are tons of incredible nature documentaries showing incredible footage of all sorts of wildlife, from Lions in the plains of Africa to strange fish at the depths of the sea. One added benefit to showing content like nature shows or documentaries is that it will very likely be entertaining for the parents of the children too. Age matters a lot less when it comes to observing the wonders of the natural world!

2. Information About Airport Attractions and Services

One of the the most potentially frustrating thing about airports is that people simply don’t know where to find whatever they are looking for. One great solution to this is to provide useful information about attractions and services on TV screens. This should not only include the attraction or service offered in the airport, but also where in the airport the traveller can find these destinations. So what kinds of things should an airport display on these screens?

There is no doubt that there is a plethora of things that a traveller might want to find while they are in the airport, but lets start with one of the big one’s: restaurants and cafes. While the most common factor uniting nearly everyone in the airport is that they are there as a means of going somewhere else. The second most uniting factor is that they need to eat and drink.

Finding the right place to eat and drink in an airport can be difficult, and a lot of people simply go to the places that they see as they walk around, even if wherever they stop to eat or drink is not their ideal location. However, a TV screen displaying all of the different restaurants, bars, and cafes in the airport, as well as the locations of these establishments is a sure way to increase traveller satisfaction.

Other attractions that could be beneficial on display screens are the various retail stores in the airport. Shopping is a pastime for many people, and that is true no less in an airport than out in a city. Many people are simply unaware of the stores inside of the airport, much less how to find them, so displaying this information on the screen can be a great benefit to the travellers and to the stores inside the airport which will likely see an increase in customers.

Finally, there are a number of services that a traveller may want to find. For example, they might want to find a place where they can weigh their baggage before it gets weighed by the airline personnel so that they can make sure that their bags meet the weight requirements.

Other services might be international phone service providers, or places with information about lodging in different cities. There are tons of different services offered in airports and these often differ depending on the airport, so displaying this information on TV screens can be incredibly useful.

3. Airport Rules

This is not nearly as fun as the preceding points, but it is just as important. The rules of conduct in an airport differ from the rules of conduct in normal life. There are simply some behaviors that would be completely normal in a city that would not be appropriate in an airport. While some people who fly frequently may know these rules well, other first time flyers may be left questioning what they can do and what they cannot do.

Moreover, many people in an airport are from different countries than the one in which the airport is located, and the rules for different airports are not always the same across states, countries, and continents. For this reason, it is extremely useful for both the travellers and the airport staff to have the airport rules shown on TV screens.

It makes it easier for the travellers because they are given information about the correct way to comport themselves in the airport environment, and it makes the job of the airport staff easier since they are the people who must enforce the rules. If the travellers are well informed, this will mean a lot less work for the airport staff and will engender a smoother experience for everyone involved.

4. Sports

Nearly every single country from which a traveller in an airport might be from will have a large portion of the population that enjoys watching sports. Even if one isn’t a dedicated sports fan, watching sports can still be entertaining and, at the very least, be a good way to pass the time while waiting for their flight. For most, watching sports will beat watching their watches in terms of entertainment any day.

Moreover, there are some sports that will be entertaining to most people no matter where they are from. Some people find watching football exhilarating while others find it boring, especially if their favorite team isn’t playing. The same can be said for basketball, baseball, and soccer. So then what kinds of sports are likely to find a broad appeal among sports fans and non-sports fans alike?

One good answer is extreme sports. Watching people launch hundreds of feet into the air on a dirt bike, someone snowboarding down fresh powder on a steep mountain, or someone surfing a wave that would leave even the fishes trembling with fright can be extremely entertaining to a broad range of viewers while avoiding the pitfalls of team allegiances and other biases people might have when it comes to bigger sports.

We are not suggesting that you put up TVs with extreme sports all over the airport, but we are suggesting that there are certain areas, such as those near bars or cafes where extreme sports can really help the time pass.

5. Advertisements

Airports might feel like public areas to many, but they are businesses all the same, and making money is important to any business. The fact that airports serve such a high volume of people and such a diverse range of travellers makes airports an excellent place for advertisements. The international nature of many airports make airports an ideal home for the advertisements of international companies, but they can also be great places to advertise more local brands and businesses. This is where placement is key.

Showing advertisements that are specific to the city in which the airport is located in the departure area of the airport would be ineffective. People here are leaving the city, so why would you try to sell something that has to do with the city to people who won’t be there in the next few hours. The departures area is great for advertising international brands. However, the arrivals area can be a great place for advertising more local brands and businesses, especially since so many people arriving in the city will be looking for things to do.

The 5 Worst Things to Show on Airport TVs

1. Explicit Content

Unlike a bar or a movie theatre, establishments that serve clients from specific demographics, airport travellers are truly diverse in age, socioeconomic status, nationality, culture, and religion. This means that the content that an airport shows on its screens has to be as universally acceptable as possible. Of course, an airport should not show movies or TV shows where there is the potential for explicit sex scenes or gratuitous violence.

Kids might see this which could cause major problems, and such scenes could very well be offensive to adults as well. But explicit content goes beyond these easily identifiable examples when put in the context of an airport, especially when the content is sexual in nature. Airports will want to avoid showing content where romantic interactions go anywhere beyond what would be PG in the United States.

Moreover, airports need to be culturally sensitive. While a kiss between two people who are not married may seem harmless to many, there is a high likelihood that there are people in the airport who may find such actions offensive. Moreover, violence should be totally avoided. The airport must be family friendly and violence is simply not family friendly. There is absolutely no reason that an airport TV should display content that would make problems for their travellers so it is simply best to avoid any type of explicit content.

2. Political Content

For much of the same reasons that an airport should avoid showing explicit content, they should also avoid displaying content that is political in nature. The airport does not want to be seen as endorsing one political viewpoint over another. Showing political content not only has the potential to start arguments amongst travellers, but it also risks alienating people and making them feel uncomfortable in the space.

An airport can be stressful enough, so it is important not to increase that stress by showing political content. Of course, there is room for debate when it comes to what constitutes news and what constitutes political content. Certainly, many travellers would enjoy programming that keeps them up to date on the news. We cannot offer a catagorical solution to that debate, though some guidelines could be applied: Political talk shows with a clear ideological slant should be avoided, while reporting on global and local events is likely appropriate.

3. Emotionally Intense Programming

We add the category of “emotionally intense programming” as separate from explicit and political programming since there is a lot of content that while not being violent or sexual is still emotionally intense. Programs dealing with death, sickness, or disease are just a few examples of programming that can be emotionally intense. The fact is, airports are stressful environments, and the airport should not increase that stress. The content that people watch should be calming while being entertaining, and while that may seem like a requirement that is hard to fulfill, we have provided a number of examples that fit the bill.

4. Music Videos

There are many places where music videos are an incredible way to keep customers entertained. However, it is best that airports avoid showing music videos. The content of music videos often contains themes or images that are not family friendly or culturally sensitive. Moreover, people’s taste in music varies so widely that music videos have just the same potential to be irritating as they do to be entertaining for the diverse group of people inside of an airport.

5. Content Involving Criminals

Finally, airports should avoid any content that involves people involved in criminal behavior. Flying is scary for a lot of people, and showing people committing crimes has the potential to make people feel unsafe or exacerbate people’s fears that they already have.

Making the Most Out of Airport TVs

Airport televisions are a great solution to the tedium and confusion that characterize the experience of many people when they are in airports. Providing travellers with family friendly and entertaining content will make the hours spent waiting in an airport go by faster, while providing relevant and useful information can make the whole airport experience more smooth and satisfactory.

While deciding what to put up on airport TVs, it is important to consider the diversity of people in airports as well as recognize that airports can be a very stressful location. By sticking to the 5 best things to put on airport TVs while avoiding the 5 worst, the experience of both travellers and airport staff can be substantially optimized.