Passenger terminal design: what makes a great airport?

If you’ve ever visited an airport, you’ll be familiar with passenger terminals. Usually filled with seating, shops and restaurants, they house passengers while they wait for their planes, which means good terminal design is a key aspect of developing a functional airport. Learn more about the different aspects involved in passenger terminal design and some key questions terminal designers answer in their processes.

What facilities make up an airport terminal?

An airport terminal consists of a wide range of facilities and services. Just some of these include:

• Baggage handling
• Boarding gates
• Car parking spaces
• Passenger amenities
• Security systems

Passenger operations

The most visible aspect of the terminal for those boarding flights is the passenger operations side of the terminal. This contains all of the public-facing aspects of the airport, encompassing everything from the amenities customers consume in the terminal itself to the parking spaces available to passengers. Design considerations at this point include ensuring that passengers have plenty of activities to keep them occupied, amenities to help with hunger and thirst and security support to ensure everybody is as safe and secure as possible during their time in the terminal.


In addition to all of the front of house work taking place in a terminal, there is a significant amount of behind the scenes design work to consider. This includes the way that the terminal stores and handles bags, the design of gates across the airport and the configurations of aprons across the airport to ensure that planes can land and take off safely and on time. Although this is a less visible aspect of the airport, it is a fundamental part of passengers’ journeys. Poor behind the scenes functionality is more noticeable to a passenger than great front of house service.

Building design

When building any terminal, designers have to take into account current passenger flows as well as anticipated demand in the future. As such, not only do they have to think about the size of the building itself, but also the number of security lanes, check-in desks and facilities like toilets they will need to adequately manage demand.

The most important principle of terminal design

One of the most important principles of terminal design is the focus on functionality. If someone arrives at Hamad International Airport in Qatar, for example, and they’ve never been here before, they want to get through the terminal and onto their flight as seamlessly as possible. Placing functionality at the core of the design process means that passengers get processed and onto their flights with little hassle, saving everyone time and making the airport experience a pleasant one.


If you’re interested in passenger terminal design and equipment, get in touch with the Bayanat Engineering team today to find out about our terminal systems and technology.