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March 16, 2005 12:01 AM

Broken: Kennedy Airport, Terminal 3

Kennedy1Kennedy2My friend Andrew Zolli writes:

At Kennedy Airport's Terminal 3, the terminal is separated from the car parking lot by an elevated walkway which straddles a lane of fast moving traffic. The walkway much be accessed at both ends by an elevator. For reasons that make absolutely no sense, the sign in the elevator closest to the terminal uses two different floor numbering systems. (See picture at left.) "Level 1" is on 1; "Level 2" is on 3 and "Level 3" is on 4. This sign would be particularly awful for a blind person.

Even worse, the floor numbering sysem on the other side of the walkway uses a completely different system (see other picture) of lettering the floor levels - A,B,C and D.



The numbering scheme for the buttons in the first elevator depicted is simply baffling!

Posted by: Carlos Gomez at March 16, 2005 07:37 AM

This is totally not broken. Think about it:

To get to AirTrain, go to Level 2 by way of the button next to #3. From the other direction, look on the sign for the green #3 and you'll see that you should push the button for D.

Just remember Level 2, button #3 (the second button), a green "3" in a box, and the letter D. Sounds simple enough to me. By the way, what happened to button #2 on the first picture? Did the designers think it might make too much sense and not induce enough confusion on hapless travellers?

Posted by: Manni at March 16, 2005 11:44 AM

If you have to think about it, then it probably is broken. Why on earth can't it be 1,2,3 on both ends? Think about that.

Posted by: Deb at March 16, 2005 03:53 PM

Ya, What happened to the #2 button.

Posted by: unknown at March 16, 2005 06:05 PM

#2 Was eaten by cookie monster!

Posted by: Administrator00192 at March 17, 2005 12:02 AM

seems logical to me... the two halves of the elevator surely must separate!

Posted by: Dragon at March 17, 2005 12:48 PM

Manni, how can you both say it's not broken, and then make fun of the designers for their baffling decisions in the same post?

This is definitely broken.

Posted by: theplustwo at March 17, 2005 12:55 PM

Why do people always have to say "No tihs is not broken it make sense if you don't care about functionality" It's broken, OK?

Posted by: Travis at March 17, 2005 12:56 PM

Sorry theplustwo, I was trying to be sarcastic. I forget that sarcasm is easily lost when something is typed up. This is one of the most broken things I've seen considering an airport is heavily used by thousands of people every day.

Posted by: Manni at March 17, 2005 02:26 PM

I suppose the terminal was designed by the Hatfields and the parking lot by the McCoys...

Posted by: fuzzy at March 17, 2005 02:42 PM

This is not broken... Just a new "security" feature that our tax dollars paid for.

Just think about it... if you can't get to and from the terminal how are the terrorists supposed to.

Posted by: Porthos at March 17, 2005 03:18 PM

i noticed sarcasm manni. :P

Its mathematically sound, they skip any number that is the equivalent of any numbers before it added to themselves. so 1+1=2, get rid of two.

3,4,5 3+3=6, gone,7, 4+4=8, gone. this doesnt apply to 4 because 2 is already eliminated.

Posted by: Dragon at March 17, 2005 03:18 PM

With the "New Math", it ain't broken.

Posted by: I.B. Broken at March 17, 2005 06:21 PM

is porthos trying 2 b funny?

Posted by: Administrator00192 at March 17, 2005 06:40 PM

is porthos trying 2 b funny?

Posted by: Administrator00192 at March 17, 2005 06:40 PM

Yea, I was tryin.

Posted by: Porthos at March 18, 2005 08:40 AM

This reminds me of the various buildings that make up the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Several parts are connected, with indoor signs telling you when you've gone from 150 Massachusetts Ave. to 136 Mass Ave. However, floor numbering systems are different in each building, and you will find yourself on floor 3 in one building and 2 in the next.

In addition, floors 1,2,3 are numbered as expected, but it's the reverse for floors A and B, where B is lower than A. And there are two floors A, but in different buildings.

It's INCREDIBLY confusing to a new student.

Posted by: Bill at March 18, 2005 07:07 PM

It would be so much easier if they just had 1,2,3,4 on one side and 1,2,3,4 on the other.

Those elevators were probably made by two different companies or it was cheaper to use 2 different kinds and make it hard for people who are not good at math.

Posted by: unknown at March 18, 2005 07:13 PM

One more thing on the seconed pic it looks like buttons A and D are on the same floor and they have a #3 wich could mean floor 3 on the other building.

Posted by: unknown at March 18, 2005 07:16 PM

It usually amazes me how bad lifts/elevators are in airports for this kind of thing.

My most recent experience was in Pearson, Toronto. My wife is French Canadian and I speak reasonably good French. The elevator buttons were marked A (above) and D (below) which I kinda took as being ascend and descend (okay they are the same in English but the most natural words in the French). Of course they actually meant Arrivals and Departures, but as in most airports the arrivals was below the departures, so why put the button above? And anyway why should I have to have intimate knowledge of the architecture of airports to be able to go up and down a floor. And further, if a lift only has two floors, why can't it just have one button saying "go"?

As I say, a rant, but I was not the only one confused by this at all, the other 235 people in the elevator were also confused (they couldn't work the other one).

The other worrying thing is the little lock that says "reserved for fire department". I've always wondered if the fire department actually holds all the keys-- or even worse, the airport. How many keys might that be? There is some guy with the world's largest keychain somewhere and terrible haemmorrhoids...

Oh, elevators are just fundamentally broken.

Posted by: Simon Trew at March 19, 2005 09:37 PM

Could be worse, could be the wonkavator.

Posted by: Picho at March 21, 2005 12:13 PM

Oh my goodness do I ever LOVE Simon Trew's idea!

If there are only 2 permutations, why not just have a button that says "GO". (Cuz what the heck else are you going to do?!)

That solution rules.

Simple, elegant, perfectly useful.

(Mind if I pitch it to the management there, Simon? I'm on the other coast in Soviet Canuckistan - Victoria, BC Canada - but fly in there often and a friend's father actually works at Pearson. Split the commission maybe? ; )

Posted by: Jae Zawadzki at March 22, 2005 09:10 PM

O'Hare is nearly identical!

Posted by: FLyingASHtrays at March 25, 2005 09:59 PM

A possible explanation: Years ago I used an airport elevator where the two levels were 1 and 3. There was a "2" button that was apparently nonfunctional.

Having been through the airport multiple times I had grown used to the elevator. One day I went from 3 to 1 and got totally confused for a bit--it sure wasn't the first floor I was on.

Turns out 2 was some sort of restricted access area--once I figured it out I got the hell out before taking the time to figure out exactly where I was. Presumably it took a key or something to enable the #2 button, but when someone got on from #2 I could get off and when you're in an elevator you expect to have only two positions you don't really look to see if it's the right floor.

Posted by: Loren Pechtel at March 31, 2005 06:14 PM

On the first one,

why not they puit Level 2 on 2 and Level 3 on 3?


Posted by: William at June 24, 2005 06:10 PM

Another broken thing: The airline is called AirTran, not AirTrain, right?

Posted by: Jake Nelson at July 14, 2005 12:48 PM

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