The fascinating tiny detail that makes Tampa one of the world's best airports

6:35 AM, Mar 3, 2014   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- Tampa is on top again.

Another survey just named Tampa International Airport as one of the top three in the world for satisfied passengers.

Why is our local airport always one of the best? One of the biggest reasons -- is one of the smallest details.

There's a reason you love Tampa's airport. It's almost 50 years old, and just over two feet long.

Maggie Fales is heading to New York. But she could be going anywhere -- from Cleveland to Kalamazoo -- and I could still tell you one thing about her visit to Tampa's airport.

Odds are she will not walk for more than 300 footsteps at a time.

Three hundred footsteps. Seven hundred feet.

It's a magical number dreamed up by T.I.A.'s original designers in the late 60's.

"They did a study to analyze the psychological impact of waiting on passengers," airport spokeswoman Janet Zink explained.

They figured out that 300 steps is where people go from happy traveler to tired and annoyed.

So they built shuttles, sidewalks, hallways, and escalators -- all aimed at keeping any one part of the average flier's walk below 300 steps.

And today, as Tampa International Airport launches a billion-dollar expansion, those 300 footsteps still factor into every design decision.

"It's a pretty phenomenal thing. We owe a lot to the people who originally designed this airport," Zink said.

"And we are completely committed to continuing with those philosophies."

There are a million things that Tampa's airport does right, to put them near the top of every important satisfaction survey.

But the reason they are in the running at all, goes back to that nearly 50-year-old focus on the footsteps of fliers like Maggie Fales.

Grayson Kamm, 10 News

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