OTG Passenger Experience

The Physical studio’s bold re-imaging of sixteen passenger terminals throughout North America

  • ClientOTG
  • StudioPhysical
  • LocationNorth America

There are very few places where you have the undivided attention of your customer for an hour or more; an airport is one of them. The transformation of airport restaurant design in the past decade has been dramatic. 

Journey’s physical studio has been at the heart of this change, and has revolutionized the passenger experience at terminals across North America since 2006.  

Our Brief

Re-design the passenger experience at OTG passenger terminals.

Our Response

Since we started in this sector in the early 2000s, we have watched the industry completely reinvent itself. Our passenger experience design for JetBlue Terminal 5 at JFK was the first in the aftermath of 9/11. This was a pivotal moment for airport experiences and drove three key areas of change. 

First, Jet Blue was the first airline not to serve food on the airplane and created the culture of arriving at the terminal to eat before you board. This paved the way for a more engaging experience around an anticipated dining requirement at the terminal. 

Second, post-9/11, security loomed large at all airports. People knew they had to deal with a TSA experience that was both stressful and unpleasant.  

Third, technology was emerging as a force that could be transformational in how service and operations were delivered, opening up possibilities for an array of food offerings that could not have been imagined before. 

In 2007, emerging technology allowed for a new business model that required less staff. That unlocked the ability to have more food options.

Those innovations continued to evolve as operators learned how to analyze the data about what types of food were sold and when. It allowed the operators to produce food during downtimes and prepare with accurate predictability what people would be demanding during peak hours. 

All of this was supported by a design intent on creating a multiplicity of experiences, from white tablecloth dining with big wines for long layovers to ordering from a seat at your gate or self-checkout prepared foods. Now we are deep into adding experiences that reach far beyond food and drink, expanding retail, and adding accretive experiences in airports that support everyday life.

To take advantage of that attention and to drive passengers’ exploration of food and retail, we understood that reducing anxiety is key. So we introduced outlets and iPads at your seat, in the gates, because our research told us that American travelers are ‘gate huggers’. They linger at the gate and don’t explore the terminal. 

We reinvented the gate hold completely, inventing the ‘blended hold room’ experience – removing existing seating, and then in MSP and YYZ, we added food venues to the gate holds themselves.

We created self-checkout kiosks and food halls. The iPads allow you to pay when you order, removing the stress of finding your server to pay a check and run to the gate. This revolutionary use of self-checkout eliminated waiting times and reduced the anxiety of being away from the gate. 

The Physical studio continues to challenge outdated models, turning passenger wait times into measurable revenue streams for operators. And more than that, we aim to capture the local spirit – both in food and design- of the city in which the airport is located to create engaging environments.


From the moment of its debut, the OTG-JFK Experience at JetBlue’s Terminal 5 was heralded for its vision, setting a new standard for airport hospitality.”


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