« How an understanding of body language transforms your public speaking | Main | The truth about blog and twitter content syndication »

June 16, 2009


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference A rant about noise pollution inside U.S. airports :


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Bryan Larkin

David. You are so right regarding airport noise pollution. My times at foreign airports are a joy compared to the din at those in the US.

Here you can't think and, God forbid, you want to have a phone conversation! It never fails that as soon as the other party picks up, an announcement starts up.

I would, however, recommend a stop at the Albany, NY, airport. They seem to do it right as it is usually quite calm and relaxed with only occasional announcements and tasteful, quiet music. But don't go near the gates. CNN is always blaring!

Jake LaCaze

I've only flown twice and haven't noticed this. But thanks to your post, I'm sure I'll notice the next time I fly. Thank you for this.

Jackie Ann Patterson

Agreed that most airports are too loud and I'd add local gate announcements broadcast loud enough for the whole concourse to your list.
On the good side, San Jose Terminal A surprised me with a little quiet last week. (Can't say the same for even Terminal C in the same airport which was a madhouse. )

Pollution Problem

The Government is to review air standards to see if they are realistic. But Green Party co-leader Russel Norman says that means it intends to weaken or delay them. Environment Minister Nick Smith today said air quality standards needed to be “practical and achievable” and 10 cities and towns, including Auckland and Christchurch, were unlikely to meet the standards set in 2005 by the 2013 deadline. A technical advisory group would review the national environmental standards for particulate air pollution under the Resource Management Act.

John Wall

The two most important parts of air travel are to get into the clubs and get Clear: http://www.flyclear.com

David Meerman Scott

@John - Yes, I am a member of Clear. It is great, but it is in so few airports.

Brandon Moyles

Nice Post! Loved that you tied it in with an organization's need to get over their own ego and put their customer's needs first. I can't help but view airport announcements in the classic 'Boy Who Cried Wolf' scenario. What action are you really going initiate, through announcements we've trained ourselves to tune out?

Nick Morgan

David --

Couldn't agree more. Noise is just one of the many ways that air travelers are treated like cattle in airports and on the planes. It's the disdain for the customer that is so particularly irritating.


Amen, amen, amen! I am so sick of the trend that the air has to be filled with sound at every waking moment. Your comments on airport noise are on target. The idea applies to about every other public place you can go, as well. Must every bar have loud music ALL the time? Ever gone somewhere for Happy Hour with friends and you end up yelling at each other in order to be heard? Whatever happened to quiet time or time to have conversation? Yoicks! (I guess I should have placed your Rant warning at the beginning of this comment.) Anyway, thanks for the great post.

Grumpy Old Man


In England and Wales noise pollution is covered by The Control of Pollution Act 1974.

It is not a matter of the content but of the decibel level, so inane announcements at low levels would be immune from prosecution. (The would require the introduction of the Control of Inane Pollution Act 2011)

A person may lodge a complaint with the local authority and require it to investigate and if the noise is above the allowed decibel levels and is not abated, to prosecute in the magistrates court.

If the authority refuses to prosecute, an individual can bring a prosecution.

Is there similar legislation in the States?

Suggestion: Get a decibel meter to check out the announcements.

Ellen Maiara, CMP


Have you noticed more and more people using their noise reduction headphones in the terminals? It works great!

Dave Brown


I too have noticed that most foreign airports are quieter -- even really big ones like Frankfurt. To some degree I think that's just a reflection of the differences in cultures. In American culture there seems to be a need to be hard-driving, hyperactive, and yes, loud. There's also the government monopoly factor: airports are government monopolies and usually under such circumstances caring about the customer goes out the window.

Aside from being unable to talk on the phone, the thing that frustrates me most is not being able to hear the announcements I really need to hear -- like the one at my own gate telling me how long my flight is delayed!

Kleber Oliveira

In Brazil we had this kind of harassing just until a couple of months ago. Now all airports are allowed to make flight announcements through the sound systems only near the boarding gates. In a reasonable volume. Reducing the overall noise levels, it is easier now to listen and actually understand the messages. A simple question of contrast.

Justin Locke

Well in my experience, within most organizations large and small, most people are focused on only one buyer persona, and that is the person above them with power to hire/fire/ give raises and bonuses. Other than your lectures, where is one to learn to focus on something other than one’s own advancement? In all my years in the music business I never once heard anyone use the word “customer.” Customer perception was always someone else’s job. it's frightening to think about strangers so we're always eager to delegate the task.

Anyway, kudos to the salesperson who understood HIS customer and sold all those video systems to the airports. C’mon, credit where credit is due. I am sure he/she made a great presentation, telling the FAA how much we would all love it. ;-)

Gregory Heller

I agree with you completely on this. I am also a frequent traveler, usually about 40 legs a year the last few years, and the announcements and muzak or music and cnn airport network are madening. I think it is interesting to see how many people are tuning out all of this noise with noise canceling headphones. Wouldn't it be nicer if we could just have some quite in public places?


I travel out of Detroit and I can set my watch to the "Threat Level Security" warning that is played every 15 minutes.

On my last flight to DC, I would have paid the announcer of departures. I have never heard a more charismatic, energetic and funny employee at the airport. I wish I would have filmed it.

Noise worth hearing.

Orlando Travel


I also find it difficult to do business in many airports. However, I have noticed that some concourses seem to do a better job of controlling announcements and noise than others.

Tina Haisman

Wow! That is SO true! Hopefully you've been heard! Thanks for ranting for all of us!

Mark Sinclair

David - I know EXACTLY what you mean. It's really bad in the UK and Europe too, but there are some airports in the US which take the cake ...

... until you travel on First Great Western rail in the UK, that is. They are incredible. Utterly utterly pointless, repetitive, annoying and noise pollutant announcements which drive most people up the wall.

I might even record them one day to share with you ...


Roger Bombardier Jr.

WHY? Why must the TV always be BLARING? We don’t want to watch the TV. If the TV must be going make it closed caption. So that those of us who do not like TV don’t have to hear the damn thing. Also if you turn OFF the volume and make it closed caption only, you will be encouraging litteracy as well. Most of the television on is trash anyway. If you are to force TV watching make it history channel, or discovery, or PBS. Plus with out this annoyance, the airport announcements would not have to be so LOUD!

The comments to this entry are closed.


Your email address:

Powered by FeedBlitz

follow me

David Meerman Scott books

I want to speak at your next event!


David Meerman Scott e-books

David's iPhone and iPad apps

Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 12/2004