South Africans’ Airport Facility Dreams Revealed


Following a recent study on public sentiment around South Africa’s airports, flight booking site have released their findings about what features could be added to South Africa’s airports to improve the lives of air commuters.

The online travel agency asked more than 6000 survey participants what facilities they would most like to see in airports around the country, with suggested options ranging from sleeping areas to rest weary heads before boarding, to health, wellness and grooming facilities such as a gym and a spa.

Despite the scope of grand airport enhancement designs suggested in the survey, Internet access eclipsed the choices on offer with an overwhelming 65% responding that free Wi-Fi should be a mandatory service available in airports. All ACSA airports already offer free Wi-Fi services, however, research indicates the complimentary allotment of either 30 minutes or 50MB of data already provided by the Airports Company is not sufficient for connection hungry South Africans.

Sleeping areas were a close second, with almost half of respondents voting in favour of a place to rejuvenate in the horizontal position before catching their flight, while free transport inside the airport building was the third most popular choice on passengers’ wish lists.

A significant 27% of travellers voted for airside shower facilities in their dream airport. A facility of this nature would offer a welcome respite in the face of tedious journey’s, especially for those waiting for connecting flights.

Nearly one in four voted for a children’s play area, to keep the little ones entertained before flights.

Top 10 most popular airport features: 

  1. Mandatory free Wi-Fi – 65%
  2. Sleeping areas – 47%
  3. Transport to gate/concourse/terminal – 39%
  4. Airside shower facilities – 27%
  5. Kids playroom – 23%
  6. Library – 13%
  7. Health spa – 12%
  8. Cinema – 11%
  9. Games room – 9%
  10. Gym – 6%

A few imaginative flyers believe a swimming pool and nightclub are some of the less likely facilities to enrich their airport experience. While these aspirations might seem outlandish, they become less bizarre when you consider some of theweirdest airport features around the globe such as Munich Airport which houses a wave pool much like the one at Durban’s Gateway Shopping Centre!

In terms of existing services at ACSA airports, survey participants indicated that the clarity of airport announcements should be improved upon with 36% saying unclear PA system announcements contributed negatively to the South African airport experience. It appears this particular annoyance has become so noticeable that it is even the subject of a popular skit by South African Comedian Trevor Noah called Crazy Normal - Attention All Passengers.

A spokesperson for ACSA says the Airports Company is conscious of the noise levels at its airports: “As and when complaints are logged with the customer care department at the airport, we address the matter immediately. The company is currently reviewing ways of reducing the levels of unnecessary noise within our airports.”

In an effort to improve customers’ experience, ACSA has recently launched a free app, which provides a complete guide to everything at the airport. The airports app (search Airports Company South Africa for Android and iOS) puts the airport in the pockets of customers by providing them with convenient tools to find shops and restaurants, airline and travel information, as well as weather reports and customer care details. The app also syncs with the Gautrain timetable, ensuring that passengers travelling to Gauteng have access to alternative transportation.

The following interventions are currently be considered by ACSA to improve airports in South Africa:

  • Storage facilities are currently being reviewed to keep items left behind for up to 90 days to be sent to a specified delivery address. In this way, customers will not lose any of their valuable possessions.
  • The self-bag drop option is under review to offer easier baggage facilitation.