A Side Effect of Airport Design: Protests

Protestors at Los Angeles International Airport, photo by Kayla Velzaquez via Unsplash.

English professor and scholar of airports (yes, it’s a thing) Christopher Schaberg writes about the recent Trump administration travel ban protests in airports for Real Life magazine — they didn’t gum up the airport works so much as take advantage of all the ways airports are already designed to welcome mass action.

Yet this was no mere matter of poor design: It was always in airports’ very nature to welcome, shepherd, and display such collective action — passengers routinely clump up and board together, linger around baggage carousels in masses, and cluster and fume together when there’s a hiccup in the system. The protests were like a major wave of airline delays or cancellations, but instead of domestic flights in question, people were responding to entire ontological trajectories suddenly put on hold.

Read the essay