Airport Design

Terminal Configuration

Although there are many types of terminal configurations currently in use at airports across the United States, the five basic types are given below with a brief description of each.

single terminal configuration

Simple terminal
This configuration consists of one building holding a common ticketing and waiting area with several exits leading
to a small aircraft parking apron for boarding. This is used at mainly small aircraft airports and some older large airports.


Linear terminal/ Curvilinear terminal
This is simply an extension of the simple terminal concept providing more gates and more room within the terminal for ticketing and passenger processing.

linear terminal and curvilinear terminal

Pier finger terminal

Pier finger terminal
This terminal configuration evolved during the 1950s when gate concourses were added to the simple
terminal building designs. A concourse is actually defined as an open space where paths meet.
Passengers are usually processed at the simple terminal location and then routed down a "pier"
where aircraft are parked in the "finger" slots or gates for boarding.

Pier satellite terminal/ Remote satellite terminal
This configuration involves a single terminal where all the ticketing and passenger processing takes place. Connected to this are numerous concourses that lead to one or more satellite structures. At the end of each concourse the aircraft are parked in a cluster. This increases the distance a passenger must walk to get from one terminal to another or one gate to another. People-mover systems are employed in these settings to reduce these walking distances. These systems can be high-speed escalators, monorails or electric-powered carts. This design concept lends itself to a compact central terminal, but is difficult to expand without disrupting airport operations.

mobile lounge or transporter terminalMobile lounge or transporter terminal (remote aircraft parking concept)
This concept is currently in use at Dulles International Airport and Tampa International Airport.
In this concept passengers are transported to and from the building to the parked airplane.
The mobile lounge can also be used as holding rooms for waiting passengers at gate positions.
Airplanes are parked at gates placed along parallel rows. Several sets of parallel parking rows
can be created as increased traffic deems such expansion necessary. This design has excellent
expansion capabilities and can maintain the pace with increased airport usage. With this concept,
aircraft can be parked remotely from the terminal buildings thus increasing the amount of aircraft
enplaning and deplaning passengers. Airplane taxiing time to and from the runway is decreased
as well as the amount of aircraft engine noise around the terminal.