Grounded and Tranquil Airport Facility Planning

Modern airport planning from conception to implementation

 USM Haller Airport

Fasten your seatbelt – the essentials of airport facilities planning

Airports connect worlds and move emotions – from taking off to arriving, journeys of pleasure and journeys of compulsion. Yet in addition to all their multifaceted emotional contexts, airports are above all places that have a lot of basic tasks and functional requirements to fulfil: in their halls, corridors and facilities, countless people come together day in and day out, who not only have to be coordinated, but whose needs also need to be met. A situation which requires an interdisciplinary system, featuring speedy processing and  the highest possible security and hygiene standards. There are numerous considerations not only in the design of the various areas, but also in the equipment. The following provides an overview of what is important for planning an airport facility. 

Different worlds between the worlds – the varied areas

While some immediately sit in the waiting area to check their mails until check-in, other passengers prefer to stroll through the shopping zones or enjoy a quick lunch before take-off, amongst other options. Then there are more extensive and complex tasks of the staff. As a traveller you normally enter the terminal with its shops and catering areas, pass baggage check-in and security control, continue on through duty-free zones or linger on benches or in lounges and then leave the terminal for boarding via the respective gate. Upon arrival, the reverse scenario awaits you, including the queue at the baggage belt. And in front of the toilets. Each of these areas of an airport has different requirements and must be equipped with suitable products; however, for all of them, functionality and design must go hand in hand to support the workflow, ensure the necessary security and fulfil the overall architectural concept. Not least because an airport gives the first impression of a city, if not an entire country.

Please take a seat – the waiting area 

The plane brings you quickly from A(msterdam) to B(oston), and you often spend more time on the ground – mostly with waiting. In order to divide the large, lively and noisy terminals into individual islands, which, in addition to fast, practical seating, also offer relaxation and tranquility, well-thought-out interior design compositions with appropriate ergonomic comfort are required. Not least because visitors often spend more time here than they would like. Luckily, numerous designers and specialists for seating have thought about this in recent decades and have included the topic of airport furniture in their portfolio: from the classic wood look to easy-care plastic to comfortable upholstery, from free-swinging to down-to-earth stable, from timeless to striking – the possibilities of the seats, benches and stools are diverse.

Amongst ourselves – in the lounge

Whether frequent flyer, lucky ticket upgrade or member of a special service, airport lounges can offer travellers more, because the separate waiting areas with limited access not only allow more rest for working, reading or power napping, but also offer many other amenities, such as free drinks, snacks, newspapers or even spas. The furnishings also reflect this VIP status and are warmer and more comfortable with armchairs, carpets, TV sets or expanded furniture such as desks. With the aid of sound-absorbing partitions, conference corners can even be configured quickly to hold spontaneous meetings.

Culinary flights of fancy – restaurants, cafes and bars

Whether before taking off, after arriving or just getting together, the catering areas are central meeting points where travellers should not only enjoy international dishes, but also the ambience and feel good. From fine cuisine to a quick snack, a stylish drink or a relaxed coffee, each concept requires a different atmosphere and different equipment. From the chair to the bar stool, from the side table to the high table, from the interior to the terrace. Whereby here the overall aesthetic concept should always be stylish but retained.

Fresh bargains – the shopping zones

Whether high fashion or low budget, the shopping worlds and their multifaceted offers know no borders at airports. Whereby the best in duty-free. With the help of interior design concepts and variable shopfitting systems, almost anything is possible that corresponds to the structural guidelines and safety measures, thus allowing for the effortless integration of all functional requirements, from lighting control to monitors and electronic price tags, and to adjust them individually from room to room and shop to shop. This turns shopping into an integrated experience and the waiting time flies by. 

Work & Flow – from check-in to boarding

So that we can fly around the world without any problems, the highest level of expertise, meticulously thought-out logistics and a lot of work are necessary. In order to be able to do their jobs properly, airport personnel need appropriate equipment – from technology to ergonomic designer furniture. Comfortable chairs and corresponding office desks should therefore support the work in all areas in which employees work, including check-in and boarding areas, while in passport and security control the integration of the required technology should be undertaken. For just such situations modular furniture systems such as USM Haller are particularly appropriate, not least because they can be coordinated with all processes and operations. For example, check-in counters are available from some providers in various versions – whether stationary or mobile, whether for one or two employees, including devices for a monitor, control panel, barcode scanner, ticket printer and emergency button. The modules and tables for boarding cards and security checks, gate switches and information desks are also available in a wide variety of variants. 

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The details – considerations on specifications and materials

It goes without saying that the entire furniture and fitting must meet not only the highest standards but the legal standards. An airport not only has to meet extensive structural requirements, technical requirements and diverse security standards, it is also used by many people around the clock. As in all public buildings, innovative design and functionality must interact well here.


As an international transportation hub, life at an airport never stands still. As a result, countless people use his interior 24/7, and any seating made of the wrong material will quickly have to be replaced. Not only does the constant strain make life difficult for an airport chair, but also moisture, dirt, food leftovers and even angular luggage. Whether wood, aluminium, stainless steel, polyurethane or fabric – a well thought-out and stable construction coupled with robust and easy-care material are the be-all and end-all.

Fire resistance

One of the most important guidelines in the design and equipment of public buildings is structural fire protection. As the best protection is known to be prevention, possible fire loads should be reduced as much as possible. This affects both the amount of furniture and the nature of its building materials, for this reason, products and furniture for airports should be made of flame-retardant or fire-resistant material and should be used in a very targeted manner.  


Benches that can be extended, mobile pedestals that can be extended and surfaces that can be changed – in a location that faces new challenges every day, modular systems are essential, because in an airport it is often necessary to reschedule and convert at lightning speed without losing sight of the statutory safety requirements. It is also important that all parts can not only be easily expanded or removed, but that they are also easy to maintain and replace if necessary. From new upholstery to a complete seat shell, from a door to the entire unit. 


In whatever area, the use of technical equipment at an airport is immense: whether at check-in, in the lounges or in the catering areas, from the security scanner to the socket between the seats to the lighting of the bar or the cash register system in the shops. Not to mention the main control centres. Every system used must therefore be technically compatible and integrate it perfectly, so that not only a smooth process, but also a pleasant appearance and the desired comfort can be guaranteed.


The longer a product can be used, the more resource-efficient it is. Even if not all furniture can be 100 % green due to its special requirements, it is still important that the contracted companies keep an eye on sustainability and pay attention to the raw materials used, their production conditions and their emission values. After all, every single flight already leaves a considerable CO2 footprint and every new airport planning opens up opportunities for a more climate-friendly future.

Hygiene security

Since COVID-19, health security measures have also increased at airports. This includes not only uniform hygiene rules as well as disinfection dispensers and increased cleaning intervals, but also new specifications and planning concepts for waiting areas, lounges, restaurants and shops. The number of people must be limited, safety clearances must be observed and the route must be clearly marked. In addition, hygiene protection panels help to protect employees and separate those waiting. Not only materials that are easy and effective to clean play an important role, smart contactless operation will also become even more of a focus in the future: because our ages demonstrates that our public coexistence is constantly being tested and that we have to continuously adapt to new challenges with new guidelines, whether they concern health or other safety measures. Therefore detailed discussions with appropriate experts in the different subject areas are irreplaceable.


We are happy to advise you regarding your project and support you individually – from planning to implementation. Whether residential, office or public area, please share your ideas with our Planning Department.
Depending on the project, the realisation of your project by our architects and interior designers will be managed by a local smow store on site or via our online shop. You can contact our planning department from Monday to Friday between 8 am and 7 pm via +49 (0) 341 2222 88 66 or mail