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Airport Lobby

Design Study

As technology evolves, so does our travel experience. We have gone from buying tickets over the phone, checking in at a counter, and handing over our luggage to an experience that allows us to do most of that from our mobile devices. If we were to design an environment based on the progress we anticipate over the coming years, the airport lobby would look drastically different. While no one knows precisely what the future of an airport will look like, many agree it will not look like what it does today. 

Notable developments in the check-in process include:

Mobile Technology

Technology allows passengers to check in, print/install bag tags, weight bags, and even drop off bags before arriving at the airport. These changes directly impact the function of the airport lobby. The term "Ticket Lobby" is already obsolete as the primary role has evolved as a place to drop off your bag. While remote drop sites, curbside drop-off, smart bags, and even delivery services emerge, the lobby remains the last location to drop off luggage passengers are checking.


An assembly line model streamlines the flow of passengers by breaking up the traditional queuing process into like-size steps of checking in, bag tag, and drop off. This process allows passengers to flow through the space efficiently. Many steps can be accomplished before arriving at the airport, thereby reducing congestion at the airport.

Roaming Agents

Traditional ticket counters were based on a model where passengers approach airline agents positioned behind a counter. However, many airlines anticipate moving to an era of moveable employees where agents meet customers who need help instead of waiting in a queue for assistance.


Biometrics have the potential to create a more efficient and touchless experience for passengers dropping off their bags.

The future lobby is a transitional space allowing passengers who are not checking a bag to flow through the area seamlessly. For others checking a bag, the experience is designed to simplify the process of dropping off a bag. Airline agents are no longer behind a counter and instead roaming to greet and assist passengers as needed. An agent dugout provides storage, privacy, and space for agents to retreat to when necessary. A modular system that accommodates a variety of services offers flexibility in a space that is likely to evolve.


ZGF Architects

Lead Designer - Makoto Shibuya

All modeling, rendering, sketching, and animation - Makoto Shibuya

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