Why Do Airports Have Carpeting? And How Much One City Loved Its Airport’s Carpet

In just about any airport in the world, most of the floors almost always have carpeting.

There may be a few swaths here and there with regular hard tile flooring but for the most part, carpet seems to be in the majority.

Teal carpet with pink tiles around the fountain in MCO’s Terminal B

What’s up with that?

As it turns out, it’s a pretty simple answer – studies have shown that carpeting under the feet helps to keep people feel calmer and more relaxed. To help maintain that “cozy” feeling, airports also tend to offer lower ceilings, more natural lighting and (although some people might disagree, depending on the airport) more comfortable seating at the gates (Well, that is, IF you can get a seat at the gates…).

So it helps to keep us happier and calmer as we wait for our planes. It’s also more comfortable on our feet as we roll out luggage from here to there. But there’s a fringe benefit – what do happier, calmer passengers do?

Spend more money.


According to DKMA, an airport market research company, travelers that are both happy and relaxed are twice as likely to shop, and tend to spend about 7% more money on retail and 10% more on duty-free.

So there’s a method to their madness 😉

You would think that something as unassuming and ubiquitous as airport carpeting wouldn’t be a huge deal, but in one case, it most definitely was. Portland International Airport (PDX) had the same carpet for about 30 years. When they decided to change it to a new pattern in 2013, the residents of Portland were nearly up in arms. When it was time for the last day of the old carpet in early 2015, the city threw a farewell party for the iconic carpet and thousands of people came to take one last look, one last picture and even “foot selfies” with the old carpet.

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Old vs. new carpet pattern at PDX

“By the time we really realized the appreciation for the carpet, we were already well into the process of getting the new carpeting,” said airport spokesman Steve Johnson. “It was really a little bit of a surprise to us how much the community loved the PDX carpet.”

Enough to scarf up lots and lots of PDC Carpet merchandise, apparently.


Because again (and yep, we’re coming full circle), travelers that are both happy and relaxed are twice as likely to shop, and tend to spend about 7% more money on retail. Especially on socks and beer with an airport carpet pattern on them ;-).

You keep doing what you’re doing, Portland. Stay weird, y’all! 😉

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


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