It’s Called a Moving Walkway For a Reason

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Picture it… a tight connection through a difficult airport (in my case, the furthest A terminal gate at Charlotte Douglas International Airport to the furthest E terminal gate) made worse by a delayed inbound flight (runway incursion, aborted landing, no biggie).

I have to dash through the airport to catch the last reasonable connecting flight I can.  The airport is packed with the last of the summer travel crowds, all ambling along like aimless vacationing zombies.  The only clear safe straight line route without a block-and-tackle strategy is the moving walkway network.

Except it’s not.

Ranting about etiquette on the moving walkway is nothing new for me, apparently.

Ranting about etiquette on the moving walkway is nothing new for me, apparently.

People, please!!!  The moving walkway is not a carnival ride.

Airports are busy places.  While they can, at times, be full of people who are intent on slowing down and taking it easy for a few days, they also often have passengers who are harried and rushing to get from one place to the next, particularly when there have been delays.  The moving walkway is designed to be a clear route through today’s crowded airport by providing a direct traffic-free path from one point on the concourse to another.  Alas, many passengers miss that purpose and instead have turned them into free kiddie carnival rides or transport systems for the lazy.

Some tips to guide you if you decide to use the moving walkway as your method of airport transit:

* Use the walkways to “walk” – preferably with a purpose. Be mindful of others who are in your path… say “excuse me” or the like if you must pass someone blocking the moving walkway and try to keep any luggage in front of or behind you. (Be particularly mindful of backpacks or shouldered duffels that you are not whacking passengers you are passing!)

* If you must stand, follow the instructions at the entry to the walkway (which in the States is typically on the right) and allow others to pass you by keeping your belongings on the same side. If you are traveling with others, do not stand side-by-side blocking the walkway path for others.

* Should you be overcome by fatigue – so much that you can barely stand up at all, it’s probably best that you sit down somewhere before attempting the moving walkway, which is not an appropriate place for an impromptu rest.

* When others pass you, especially when doing so politely, snide under-the-breath commentary about being in a hurry is unnecessary and futile. Yes, it’s an airport… Some people do have places to be!

* Be mindful of your children on the walkway. You are probably the only one who finds amusement in little Suzy running the wrong direction on the walkway and bumping into other passengers. Snide commentary about how little Suzy needs a timeout is unnecessary and futile. But many if us are thinking it.

* Strollers and baggage carts do not belong on the walkway. They not only block the path but can create a dangerous situation for others if they get stuck. Just don’t try it.

* Do not stand at the entry to the moving walkway trying to decide whether or not you want to get on it. You are blocking the path for others who may be in a hurry.

* Once exiting the walkway, step immediately out of the way of the walkway. The end is not an appropriate place to check messages, redistribute bags, or have a look around. Others behind you must exit and you are creating a dangerous situation where you could inadvertently be bumped into, or worse, be trampled by others attempting to exit. Step immediately to the left or right and regain your bearings there.

If these basic rules of etiquette are difficult to follow, the moving walkway (or in my case the moving running-at-race-speed-to-catch-my-flightway may not be for you).

About Jennifer Moody

Jennifer is a management consultant and avid volunteer. Her career and volunteer duty travels have helped her log top-tier airline and hotel status annually for the last nineteen years. In addition, she embraces the opportunity to maximize her vacation time by planning extracurricular trips that have taken her to over 60 countries and 48.5 US states. Once an "every week" road warrior, she now only travels around 100 days a year. She resides in her native Fort Worth, Texas where she enjoys cooking, gardening, sewing, needlepoint, wine, and playing with her Border Collie/Great Pyreness mix puppy Harley Quinn.

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    • I got there 11 minutes before flight departure. Given the penchant of legacy US Airways staff to close doors early, I might have missed it… had the plane actually been there!

  1. I hope it is many years before you develop mobility issues, but in the meantime, please be kind to those of us who stand on the moving sidewalk — just like we would stand on an escalator — with our bags and traveling partners in single file on the right. I agree with your comments about people blocking sidewalks, doorways, exits, entrances, etc. in general. And that Charlotte airport is sure spread out!

    • Understood. I actually do have some mobility impairment of my own (making it difficult for me to run or walk too quickly) which is why having an unobstructed path on the moving walkway is important to me as I use them to help move me along. I am empathetic to those who can’t move as quickly – but they don’t get a hall pass to hang out with others and block the walkway either.

  2. If want to walk walk on the section that is not moving if you don’t want to walk then get on the moving walkway.

  3. You don’t seem to have any understanding of pain, difficulty, or mobility issues. Moving walkways were designed so people did not have to walk long stretches, but could ride or walk, not so that people could dash along getting upset at others who are not able to. I have been sneered at before for blocking the moving walkway with a large luggage cart while standing and riding. I was young, too, so I’m sure it was hard to understand, but I had just had surgery and I could not carry my small bag without hurting myself. I had a large rental luggage cart that my small bag was on because pulling that used a different set of muscles. It was also during a war, so passengers were not allowed to set their baggage down while standing, so the cart allowed me to set my bag down and rest while moving through the airport. It would be nice if you learned some tolerance and could understand that you can’t always see the issue at hand, so what may seem like someone blocking your way for no reason may have a very good reason behind it.

    • You would also be well-served to understand that I’ve had arthritis since I was a teenager and have spent time in a wheelchair. I have nothing but respect for individuals who do need to use accommodations. But many do not and standing two or three abreast is dangerous for others who do need to WALK on the moving walkway. I also feel the same way about folks who congregate dangerously at the exit to escalators. And please don’t get me started on individuals who abuse the early boarding privilege (see my post on “miracle flights”). Best wishes to you and thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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