Archive for November, 2011

Terminal D at DFW - no clocks

Why Is It So Hard to Tell The Time in An Airport Terminal?

There I was, running from one gate to another at Chicago O’Hare. I was pulling my rollerboard with my left hand and had a cup of coffee in my right hand. I wondered if I had time to stop and buy a newspaper — how much time did I have to spare before boarding my flight?

I didn’t want to stop to put down my coffee so that I could use my right hand to push up my jacket sleeve to see my watch, so I decided to keep moving, I’d soon see a clock with the time. But there was one problem with that idea: I never saw a clock.

The two most important things a flyer needs to know about his flight are what gate is it leaving from, and at what time. Once you know the departure time the next thing you need to know is the current time so that you will know if you need to run to the gate, walk to the gate, or stop for a meal on the way. Knowing the current time is a crucial factor in getting to your gate on time. Why then, is it so hard to get the time at an airport?

As I traveled around, I started to look for clocks in terminals. Here is what I found.

Terminal D at DFW - no clocks

Terminal C at DFW - no clocks.

Food court at Newark Liberty International - no clocks


Satellite terminal at Los Angeles International: a clock in the middle of this wall would be visible to almost everyone in the terminal. Instead, we get an advertisement.


Main concourse at Austin-Bergstrom International - no clocks


Terminal 3 at Chicago O'Hare, a great place for a clock, but there aren't any.

Understand that I am not saying there are no clocks at airports; some terminals (see below) actually have them.

A clock (highlighted in red) at Portland International.

It is possible to find the time at an airport, I just wonder why is it so hard to do? Why don’t we see clocks at regular intervals in airport terminals?

At some airports the time is displayed at the bottom of the screen that lists arrivals/departures, but that is only at some airports, not all of them. At some terminals the monitor behind the gate agent’s counter will display the time, but at most it does not. Why not?

Maybe this isn’t a big deal. I’ve talked with several travelers about this and they have all had the same response: until I pointed it out to them they did not notice there were no clocks.

What do you think? Would it help if the terminals had clocks in them?