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Things That Were Normal In The Past And We No Longer See At Airports

Air travel used to be a lot more expensive and exclusive before the industry was deregulated, and many airports therefore had a lot more amenities that were included in the cost of your pricey ticket.

Of course, the events of 9/11 changed the design and operation of the airports, as did technology and health concerns.

See how many of these features, if any, you remember.


For many years there were no restrictions on where you could smoke a cigarette in an airport. Then when the Surgeon General got involved with all those health warnings, designated smoking areas became the norm. When cigarettes were first banned on certain flights, the most congested area in the airport arrival lounge wasn’t the baggage claim but rather the perimeter around the first pedestal ashtray passengers encountered as they exited. Today, smoking restrictions at many airports are so tight that passengers have to stand some 20 feet or more outside the exit doors of the building.

Airport-Smoking or non-smoking-Inlea

Outdoor Gates

Until the Jetway was invented, all passengers had to walk outside onto the tarmac and climb a set of portable stairs to board the aircraft. This was often inconvenient depending upon weather conditions, or on the passenger’s personal fear of flying. The first Jetway covered corridors were installed by Delta Airlines at Atlanta’s Hartsfield Airport in May 1961.

Meeting at the Gate

Surprising someone when they landed by meeting them at the gate was one of the most romantic things you could do. It’s been parodied plenty of times in movies and TV shows, but alas, it’s a thing of the past. The closest you can get is the baggage claim, which is a little less romantic.

Colorful & Distinctive Luggage Tags

Baggage tags affixed by airlines at airports used to be as different and collectable as postage stamps. Each airport had its own logo and color combination and overall design, so that you could tell from many yards away if the bag was destined for ORD (Chicago) or ORY (Paris). In the name of efficiency, baggage tags are now computer-generated and are all of the same generic, zebra-striped black-and-white bar code variety.

Long Lines for Payphones

You can still find payphones in today’s airports, but you won’t find a long line of people waiting to use them. The lines today are most likely for the charging stations.