This Is the Real Reason Why Airports Are Carpeted

While you've probably never noticed the ground beneath your feet at airports, it has a huge influence on this aspect of your travel.


Seasoned jet-setters have probably spent a fair amount of time in airports. Whether they’re making the most of an airport layover or weathering an insane flight delay doing one of the many free things you can do when stuck at the airport, it’s likely they are taking one aspect of their surroundings for granted. Next time you step foot in your local terminal, take a moment to appreciate… the carpeting. Trust us, it was placed there, with much forethought, for a reason.

While hauling wheeled luggage across carpet doesn’t sound too appealing, in airports the floor is meant to provide a different purpose. According to Mental Floss, the gated area is carpeted as “an attempt to make holding areas more relaxing by giving them a soft, cozy feeling, like you might find in your own living room.” The result: A simple design scheme that can help stressed travelers feel a bit more relaxed as they wait at their gate. And perhaps put them in the mindset to shop a bit more? It wouldn’t be the only sneaky way airports trick you into spending more money.

Some argue airport carpets have an aesthetic appeal. Enthusiast George Pendle and founder of Carpets of Airports, a website curating the best and worst of airport carpets, writes in the British 1843 magazine,  “Airport carpets are instantly recognisable [sic] yet infinitely various. They provide a colourful [sic] static underfoot as we travel, a vibrant, visual white noise that lingers after it has been traversed. These carpets have transcended their role as industrial furnishings to become a medium of interior design in their own right.” Discover the airport that’s won the best in the world seven years running, in part for its “stunning—and sometimes utterly unreal!—architecture.”

Some airport carpeting even has a cult following. The carpet at Portland International Airport is so famous it inspired clothing, beer, and even a line of sneakers. However, the well-beloved teal carpet has since been removed to the dismay of locals and visitors alike.

That’s all well for people passing through who happen to look down and notice the airport carpet patterns. What’s in it for the airports, though? Apparently, it is that passengers in a better mood spend more money. According to air-travel research company DKMA, passengers who are happy are “twice as likely to shop” and “spend 7 percent more on retail and 10 percent more on duty-free.” These are the 12 things to buy at duty-free at the airport.

Bet your TSA agent won’t mention that! Check out the other secrets your TSA agent isn’t telling you.

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Brooke Nelson
Brooke is a tech and consumer products writer covering the latest in digital trends, product reviews, security and privacy, and other news and features for