‘We need more humor in life, particularly at airports’

Travel
Published
7.11.2016 - 09:40
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A trip to the airport may be quite routine for a lot people, but sometimes it’s the details – such as an amusing sign – that turn a humdrum experience into something delightful and memorable.

Jane Alexander, a book author and wellbeing journalist from the UK (exmoorjane.com), travels a lot for work. She says that usually, airports are pretty miserable places. Arriving recently at Tampere Airport, she found everything shut, apart from the information desk. But things soon took a pleasant turn.

“I asked where I could get a coffee, expecting a surly reply, but the guy simply asked how I liked my coffee and made me one. Surely that has to be a first for an airport?” shares Alexander.

When the café did open, the woman serving chatted as if she were Alexander’s best friend. The check-in person smiled, so did the security people. “Nobody on security ever smiles,” notes the writer. So, by the time Alexander got to the departure lounge, she was feeling remarkably mellow, albeit slightly stunned. Then she went to look for the washrooms and saw a rather unusual sign.

"Tampere gets my vote for nicest airport ever!"

The classic male and female bathroom symbols are the most universally understood examples of pictogram signage. The stick figures we recognize today didn’t become widespread until later in the 20th century when, in the mid-1960s, British Rail became one of the first to implement a standard design style for all signs in their trains, stations and restrooms. Expanded upon by the American Institute of Graphic Arts in the 1970s, these pictograms have since become timeless symbols representing clean and concise design. 


The toilet sign at Tampere Airport requires no language skills, and it is self-explanatory with a twist – literally. The male and female pictograms are seen squirming and holding it in, an apparent effort to delay answering Nature’s call for a bit longer. We’ve all been in that situation. Alexander had to take a photo.

“So, friendly, helpful and with a sense of humor? Tampere gets my vote for nicest airport ever!” she says.

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