Signage and Path-Finding to Terminals

Passengers travelling through airports are often exposed to a barrage of signposts, directional signs and information boards. Long and confusing routes through terminals are common during transit and hubbing. The movement of the passengers within the complex building structures of large airports with multiple terminals can be problematic, due to:

  • Loss of orientation: Unclear or confusing environment can result in completely or partly losing one’s sense of direction.
  • Feeling of uncertainty: Disorientation can result in feelings of uncertainty and uneasiness.
  • Intercultural differences: Signage, information boards and pictograms can be misinterpreted.
  • Overstimulation: Distraction by a high density of optical stimuli as a result of the increasing commercialization of terminal areas.

In these circumstances, such stressful travel situations can lead to negative experiences.

We explored the search strategies of passengers on their way through a terminal and the degrees of distraction occurring with the available route information. With this procedure, the value of existing path-finding means was determined. The benefits this knowledge provides for airport operators is the optimization of passenger routes at selected waypoints to points of interests and the minimization of congestion.


  • Mobile gaze analysis
  • Path tracking.
  • Interviews
  • Intercultural analyses
  • Acquisition of stress indicators.

The application of passenger models allows for conclusions relevant to the design of new or reconstructed terminals. Signage suggestions can be checked regarding their suitability without extensive field trials. This method can also substantiate the benefits of innovative tools such as intelligent personal assistants and electronic signs.

The method can be applied to various contexts, e.g. to urban transport.