You’ve been traveling for the past 26 hours: long-haul flights, layovers and long, long concourses that seem to stretch into infinity as you walk. You’re so tired, you may just flop over right now. First-class lounge? Nope… but there’s still hope.
We’ve already looked at micro-hotels built into (or pulled up alongside) the airport, but what if we blur the line between public and private space even more?
Munich Airport is home to two clusters of napcabs. As the name suggests, these are tiny self-service cubicles which the weary traveler rents with the swipe of a credit card and the tap of a touchscreen. Each napcab measures in at four square meters: Quite a bit bigger than a capsule hotel pod, but without the lobby or additional amenities. After you’ve rested for a few hours, you open the door to find yourself right back amid the hustle and bustle of the concourse. When you check out, cleaning staff are alerted to swing by and change the sheets.
Even more minimal is the Obsideon Pod, designed by Roger Kellenberger. Envisioned as a branding opportunity for individual airlines as well as airports, the Obsideon Pod offers a loosely-defined private space for the passenger along with a secure bay for her hand luggage. Once reclined in the circular plod, its iris doors close so she may wrangle her e-mails, catch up on some proper work, or just grab a quick nap. According to Kellenberger’s design scheme, the passenger reserves the Obsideon Pod with her airline ticket to minimize user-experience friction.
Beyond 40 Winks
Singapore’s Changi Airport not only offers free nap chairs, but also features free cinema screenings for its passengers, as well as a giant slide. Spend 10 bucks at the airport and you get a ride. Surely a giant slide counts as a semi-private space, albeit one you move through rather quickly.
At Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, one company’s product placement is your temporary oasis. Samsung and CDG teamed up to deliver Soundcorner (Espace Musique in French), a series of padded alcoves in which you can kick back and listen to music via a Samsung Galaxy Tab (or your own device).
Also at CDG, Sony opened a lounge to showcase its 40-inch Bravia displays: You and your traveling companion can cozy up in one of five couches and watch a movie in your own little micro-cinema.
Traveler desires for temporary sanctuary, especially at busy international hubs, presents a huge passenger-experience and branding opportunity to the airlines and airports willing to step up.