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Sunday 21 December  
Passengers at Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam

Earth Beat - Airports

On air: 3 July 2012 2:00 (Photo: ANP/VALERIE KUYPERS)

More about:

Earth Beat, 6 July 2012. We check into the airport environment. How come flying used to be glamorous and now it’s more like being a herded animal? We meet the people trying to lift your airport experience to the next level - come fly with us.

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Jane Parson was an air hostess in the 1970s
Jane Parson was an air hostess in the 1970s
The glamour of flying - listen in new player

Flying used to be such fun, an exhilarating miracle worth getting dressed up for; cocktails served on doilies, hot food and charm. Air hostess Jane Parson shares the joy of the glory days with host Marnie Chesterton.

Then we ask air travellers at Schiphol Airport to tell us what they think of Amsterdam’s aviation experience.



Paul Mijksenaar
Paul Mijksenaar
Schiphol walk-about - listen in new player

In the rarefied world of airport architecture, Schiphol is a famous place.

It’s been designed to make the journey up to the moment you get on to that plane as stress-free as possible. The man who’s helped minimise turbulence on the Schiphol adventure is Paul Mijksenaar.

Marnie goes for a walk around Schiphol with him (view photos).



Damian O'Doherty
Damian O'Doherty
An airport anthropologist - listen in new player

Manchester International Airport is home to Damian O’Doherty, the world’s only airport anthropologist and surely the best person to tell us about the airport environment.

A study at Manchester suggests that the security experience puts people in a real fluster and flustered people are not good for retail.

This, as Damian explains, is where clever design comes in. Marnie joins him for a bit of people-watching, and to learn more.


Anti-terror plants - listen in new player

What if the security experience was less about snaking queues and scanning machines and more like a walk in the park?

Plants aren’t the first things you’d think of as weapons against the so-called global war on terror…  until now.

June Medford at the University of Colorado has created plants that can spot a suspect from several metres away and warn security – by changing colour.

Tiny airports - listen in new player

We drop into a couple of African airports which seem to work surprisingly well, despite order and planning not being particularly apparent. Bram Posthumus, RNW's West Africa correspondent is our guide.

More: Monrovia, Abidjan – or: how to manage an airport - from Bram's blog.

John Kasarda
John Kasarda
Rise of the aerotropolis - listen in new player

From mini-African airports we travel to the other end of the spectrum, meeting the man who came up with the idea of the ‘aerotropolis’.

John Kasarda says in the future we’ll all be living in these hubs, which are essentially cities built around major airports (view illustration).

So if you thought rising oil prices or the wrath of the environmental movement would put the brakes on aviation, think again.



When airports were exotic - listen in new player

Flying has become a bit of a chore. But maybe we’re just a bit jaded. Maybe it would help to remember how exotic airports seemed when we were young. Mignon Aylen, a producer on The State We’re In, presents an essay about how, to her and her family, the airport was really something special.

  • Schiphol Airport  - walking distances signage<br>&copy; Mijksenaar -
  • Schiphol Airport  - directional signage to transfer gates<br>&copy; Mijksenaar -
  • Schiphol Airport  - directional signage to gates<br>&copy; Mijksenaar -
  • Schiphol Airport  - directional signage to gates<br>&copy; Mijksenaar -
  • Schiphol Airport  - colour coding for flights, facilities and retail<br>&copy; Mijksenaar -
  • Schematic illustration of an aerotropolis<br>&copy; Aerotropolis -


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