Airports & Travel RetailersBlog
By: Carrie Onne   •   Travel Anthropologist

Next time you fly there is a good chance that you could spot some of our feathered friends as you pass through the terminal buildings. Here’s a quick guide to some of the birds that you may well spot and why they have found success in the airport environment.

The Ostrich:

This bird is far less rare than you might imagine in airports. Unlike its cousins in the wild

The Airport Ostrich really does bury its head in the sand when faced with a challenge. Perhaps it feels at home in many airports because commercial operators share this flawed habit. As today, when new technologies are facilitating profound changes to commercial and consumer behaviors , we see commercial operators reacting with ostrich – like reflexes in the face of these future challenges and opportunities.

Where to spot: Milan, Madrid and Toronto.

The Peacock:

A bird of shameless narcissism

The Airport Peacock finds the aviation sector a more than comfortable stage to perform its attention seeking rituals. But don’t be fooled, this bird’s grandstanding displays are designed to distract its audience from the poverty of creativity and innovation that it prefers to surround itself with.

Where to spot: Heathrow Airport. Migrates annually to various awards ceremonies

The Goose:

The Fairy Tale variety of goose has been introduced into many airports by commercial teams who prize its fabled habit of laying golden eggs.

Airport Fairy Tale Geese prefer to hangout in IDLs, forced walk-throughs and retail districts. So far the main strategy for encouraging their golden eggs has been to maintain a never changing and stable environment of brands and experiences. Rumour has it that the eggs are getting smaller and less golden these days. Some say this is because Fairy Tale Geese are threatened by competition from the Amazon Goose whose voracious online success and hyper convenient customer services herald the demise of the Fairy Tale for airports.

Where to spot: Stansted and Zurich. Many geese have moved online to lay their golden eggs

Others find similar success in flagship stores and experience driven environments that are outside of airports.

The Pigeon:

This ubiquitous creature provokes a marmite reaction. Love it or hate it

This bird finds easy living in many airports. It’s drab grey plumage and shabby manners have proven to be very effective camouflage and make it practically invisible in this environment. Similarly, it’s habit of relieving itself everywhere and on any one goes largely unnoticed against the general ordure of passenger journeys through many airports.

Where to spot: Luton and most airports around the world. Look hard and you will see it.

The Owl:

Feared to be extinct in the airport habitat

Owls are now making a modest but welcome return. The growth in customer-centric thinking and a stronger appetite to provide added value in both convenience and experiential touch 
points make some airports an attractive environment for this smart operator. Most likely seen around F&B offers where recent upgrades to improve choice, quality and service have appealed to this bird’s visionary and future forward sensibilities. The owls recent comeback is limited to airports that embrace innovation and fearlessly drive it down to every part of the passenger journey.

Where to spot: Changi, Schipol and Dubai.

The Dodo:

The demise of the Duty Free Dodo has been remarkable.

It once thrived in airside habitats where it’s formerly undemanding fans were forgiving of the dodo’s docile and steady ways. The Duty Free Dodo’s mistaken survival strategy has been to trust the continued adoration of its fans and the feast of rich and easy living they provided.

Some relatively good news for fans of the dodo is that two dodo sub-species are still easy to spot. The Luxury Dodo can often be spotted airside where it flocks together in feeding frenzies of luxury brands and kudos. And perhaps more common is the permanently optimistic Headless Dodo which is commonly seen dashing around in a search for its next easy meal.

Sadly, the future of dodos in airports looks bleak because its complacent and gluttonous ways are losing their appeal to its former fans.

Where to spot: Incheon, Miami.

The Bald Eagle:

Well that’s for another day.

Peter Marshall

Founder: Arts
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