Flying Font Friday 1

Helvetica airport signage

Also see my post Flying Font Friday 2, about typeforms found in butterfly wings.

Why the Same Three Typefaces Are Used In Almost Every Airport

From Gizmodo by Alissa Walker
Wayfinding signage is an invisible network draped upon our public places. And that network has to work especially hard in airports when we’re lost, hungry, and exhausted. Especially when helping us navigate in jetlagged states using strange languages, good wayfinding means sticking to clear, legible typefaces. So how do designers choose?”It’s like a spiderweb—you can’t touch one spot without making the whole web move,” says Jim Harding, who designed the wayfinding system for Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport, the busiest airport on the planet. In an interview adapted from David Zweig’s book Invisibles: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion, Harding takes us through the design catacombs of the Atlanta airport (okay, the terminals) to show us how he developed an international graphic language to prevent passengers from getting lost. In addition to all sorts of fascinating details about the behavior of travelers, the story includes this fascinating nugget: Just three typefaces are used in the wayfinding signage for 75 percent of airports: Helvetica, Frutiger, and Clearview.

It makes perfect sense that airports would employ sans serif typefaces, which are easier to read at a distance (and bad for small, on-screen type). But there are also some pretty sweet little details found within these typefaces which make them winners for airport signage. Here are the three you’re most likely to find at an airport near you.

Continue reading “Flying Font Friday 1”

The Lowly Luggage Tag Gets a High-Tech Makeover

e-luggage tag

By Damon Lavrinc from

We shop for flights on our laptop, book hotels on our tablet, and have a QR code boarding pass on our smartphone. So why are we still walking up to the ticket counter to get a printed sticker when we check our bags? British Airways and Designworks asked the same question and think it’s time for the luggage tag to evolve.

Next month, the airline and design firm will begin testing a reusable, e-ink luggage tag that connects with your smartphone. Using NFC, the app will beam your flight information to the tag, displaying your destination and a barcode on the e-paper screen. There’s no GPS-tracking, but the display is compatible with existing luggage scanners, so there’s no need to update the existing infrastructure at airports.

BA employees will be testing the tags during a three-month trial before the airline rolls out the system to its passengers next year. However, NFC will likely be ditched in favor of Bluetooth so the system is compatible with all smartphones that run BA’s app. And the airline estimates that travelers using the tag will be able to have their bags dropped off and checked in less than a minute.

Images: Designworks

[Original article]