Philadelphia Airport Terminal B — Welcome to The Future

It Was Pretty Cool At First

It has been a little over three years since I moved away from the Delmarva region, and close to five since I had the opportunity to fly through the legendary philadelphia airport (PHL). My memories of it mostly consist of dank and depressing terminals packed to the gills with bustling hordes of grumpy and annoyed business travelers, clueless tourists from around the world, grinning families, and heavy drinkers composed of representatives from each of those subgroups. It was a utilitarian airport with six terminals helpfully labeled A-F. With the exception of terminal A (the newer and somewhat nicer international terminal) they mostly hued to the same tried and true formula. Long hallways with shops, restaurants, and bars lining each side, interspersed with gates (each way too small for the planes they served) having uncomfortable seats (way too few) packed to the gills with those same subgroups described above. The construction and decor was 1970s-early 1980s communist apartment block-lite which made heavy use of concrete and the colors brown and grey, highlighted by the dim glow of at least three 60W incandescent bulbs every 30 square feet or so. The only technology to speak of was that carried by the travelers themselves and one was lucky to find a wall outlet let alone a charging station. It was dark and it was ugly, and it kind of smelled weird too.

Terminal B epitomized the PHL that I remembered and was the one in which I spent the most time. And a lot of time was spent there, sitting, waiting, drinking, usually all three as for many years I was traveling a considerable amount for work and pleasure, and drinking a considerable amount for those same reasons. Memories of those times were flooding my mind as I stepped off of my flight yesterday and back into the waiting arms of the terminal in which much of my youth had been wasted. The first thing I noticed was the smell, or lack of it, it was gone, next I noticed the light, really I noticed the fact that their was light, it was actually brightly lit. Then, the people, they looked mostly the same, but different too. It was still a mix of business travelers, families and tourists, but they seemed fresher or newer, maybe happy even, it was strange indeed. Finally I noticed the technology. Row upon row of gleaming tablets as far as the eye could see, every table and every seat had one, at each gate, restaurant, and store. I had a busy day of work activities to get to so I did not have time to linger but made a mental note to check things out more closely when I would return later that evening to catch my return flight home. I was truly looking forward to exploring this futuristic wonderland as I left the airport a few minutes later.

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