The Real Reason Airports Are Always Carpeted

Airports are huge, important structures that see tons of visitors, yet very few people actually like them. They're basically huge labyrinths full of various hurdles, security checks, and other people who are just as frustrated and annoyed as you are, if not more. When you're finally fortunate enough to search your destination, the gate area, you're probably happy to just sit down for a second and catch your breath before Air Travel Hell, Part 2: The Boarding commences. 

If you take a moment to look around you in this short period of relative comfort, you might notice a peculiar thing: The entire gate area is carpeted. Isn't that kind of ridiculous, when you come to think of it? With the possible exception of artificial lawn and caltrops, carpeting is just about the worst material for a thousands and thousands of people to clumsily drag their feet and luggage over. The cleaning alone must be a nightmare. Why do tons of airports carpet their gate areas, anyway? Is it one of those weird secrets airports don't want you to know? Let's see if we can find out.

Carpets make travelers happy, and happy travelers spend more money

Short answer: It's a trick, though not an entirely malevolent one. Longer answer: According to Ellen Gutoskey of Mental Floss, the carpets are indeed a right pain to install and maintain, compared to the many harder, more durable flooring options out there. However, carpeting has one significant benefit that outshines all its drawbacks. It's nice and cozy. 

By carpeting the gate areas, the airports create small islands of comfort and relaxation amidst the hectic, hard world of transit that the airport is by default. Of course, there's something in it for the airports, as well. If a traveler has access to a calming, carpeted oasis to rest their weary feet, they're a lot more likely to start cruising the terminal in a satisfied-customer mode than the poor balls of stress hanging out in non-carpeted areas. This, in turn, means more sales for the many shops, stores and cafes in the airport area. In fact, the airport research company DKMA says that passengers who feel good are twice as likely to go shopping, and they also throw noticeably more money on retail and duty-free items.

As such, carpets are actually just one of the tricks airports use to keep you nice and comfortable. For instance, the carpeted gate areas also tend to have lower ceilings, nicer lighting and even better seats than other areas, in an effort to create that chill living room vibe.