This Airport Just Installed a $2.9 Million Screensaver!

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This Airport Just Installed a $2.9 Million Screensaver!

Joel SovieThis Airport Just Installed a $2.9 Million Screensaver!Million Mile Secrets Team

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Charlotte Douglas International Airport is undergoing a massive $2.5 billion overhaul which is desperately needed.  One part of it was recently completed – a $2.9 million art project in its newest terminal.

That’s an awful lot of money, especially for artwork at an Airport.  I’d expect this if Trump built an airport but not at Charlotte Douglas.  Here’s an overview of the artwork from the airport’s website:

Interconnected, the largest public artwork of its kind in the nation and visible from both inside and outside the terminal, serves as the expansion’s focal point. Created by California artist Refik Anadol, Interconnected is a digital artwork comprised of three hi-definition LED media walls, measuring over 2,000 square feet, that display constantly changing dynamic abstract visualizations derived from airport operations data (flight arrivals and departures, baggage handling and ground transportation).

It’s Nice, but Is It the Best Use of Funds?

Aside from the massive amount of money spent on this, what really stands out to me is that the display is generated from “airport operations data” which includes flight arrivals, departures, baggage handling, and ground transportation information.

That’s a lot of valuable data that could certainly be put to use helping passengers navigate the airport.  Yet nowhere in the press release do they talk about using that data to actually help passengers!  Instead they display a moving image reminiscent of a 1990s Windows screen saver!

That’s right, Charlotte Douglas airport just spent $2.9 million to recreate a Windows screen saver using airport operations data.  And no, you can’t wake it up to find out if your flight is on time or which security line is the shortest.

Considering how laughably bad airports and airlines are at keeping you up to date on flight arrival and departure times, I’m more than annoyed my local airport just spent $2.9 million on this.  I know I’m not the only one that’s stood at a gate with an “On Time” departure yet no plane is in sight.

That is one of my biggest pet peeves with the airlines and airports, you know the flight is delayed, I know the flight is delayed, it’s past boarding time and there’s no plane, just change the expected departure time and stop playing games pretending it’s on time!  I could still be at the bar sipping on a Hop Drop ‘N Roll (local Charlotte favorite, stop by Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar in terminal C to try it).

Historically, Charlotte Airport has been known as one of the cheapest airports to do business with and that was intentional.  It’s even in their mission statement, “We will be the preferred airport and airline hub by providing the highest quality product for the lowest possible cost.”  I’m not convinced this new artwork is aligned with their mission statement.

I’m not against artwork in the airport, especially pieces that highlight the local culture and history.  But this to me makes no sense at all.  It’s also important to note it’s located in a walkway where the goal is to move people efficiently from one location to the next.  Instead when people do stop to look at it, wondering why it cost so much money and still can’t tell them where their flight is, the rest of the passengers rushing to their next flight will be even more pissed off that the walkway is clogged.

If you know anyone involved in this project, or know someone that knows someone, please forward this to them.  I really want to know why anyone thought this was a better idea than using airport operations data to actually help passengers navigate the airport.

What do you think, is this a sound investment or is this bragging rights from a city official or airport leadership?

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I saw it yesterday and it was unique and relaxing. I enjoy art in public spaces…it adds interest. Sure, they could spend the money on other things (and they are making a LOT of renovations, btw)…but why cut art funding? It’s always the first thing to go in schools as well. Also, the amount of money they spent on that art installation isn’t enough to gather and display the type of data insights on your wish list. Perhaps enough to build another concrete structure. I’d rather have some art.

Derek (DebrianTravels.com)

If this were a private business, I would not say a word. But to waste money on something that might positively benefit a handful of travelers who pay to fly into and out of the airport is to defend. As the article notes, start with technology that has a direct impact on the travel experience then with surplus spend money on this type of “art.”

1. It’s not a lot of money. (No, it’s not.)

2. It’s a nice decoration that can calm travelers down. In future, the displays could also be used for other purposes.

3. It looks way better than a screensaver.

4. The author can spend time writing something more useful for travelers.

Perhaps he could if the new display included flight information to share.