If you’ve ever wondered why it always seems so cold in airports, you’re not alone. Many travelers have asked this question when stepping off a warm plane into a frigid terminal. In short, yes – airports tend to be cold for a few key reasons.

In this comprehensive article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the factors that contribute to chilly airport temperatures. We’ll examine the science and engineering behind airport climate control systems. We’ll also provide tips on how to stay warm and comfortable despite the cold.

By the end, you’ll understand exactly why airports are kept so cold and how to prepare for it.

Why Are Airports So Cold?

Have you ever wondered why airports always seem to be chilly, no matter what time of year it is? There are several factors that contribute to the chilly temperatures in these large transportation hubs.

Large Open Spaces Are Hard to Heat

One reason why airports tend to be cold is because of their massive size and open spaces. Airports are designed to accommodate large numbers of people and aircraft, which means they often have high ceilings and expansive areas.

Heating such vast spaces can be a challenge, as heat tends to rise and disperse quickly in these open environments. Despite the best efforts of airport authorities to maintain a comfortable temperature, the sheer size of the buildings makes it difficult to evenly distribute heat.

Advanced HVAC Systems Prioritize Efficiency

Another factor contributing to the cool temperatures in airports is the advanced HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) systems installed. These systems are designed to prioritize energy efficiency and maintain a comfortable temperature for the majority of occupants.

While this may be great for energy conservation, it can result in cooler temperatures overall. HVAC systems in airports are often set to a lower temperature to accommodate the constant influx of people and to prevent the space from becoming stuffy and uncomfortable due to overcrowding.

Climate Control Focuses on Pleasing the Majority

Airports are busy places that cater to a diverse range of travelers with varying preferences for temperature. The climate control systems in airports are designed to please the majority of people passing through.

While some individuals may find the temperature to be too cold, others may find it just right. Finding the perfect balance to satisfy everyone is nearly impossible, and as a result, airports often err on the side of cooler temperatures.

The Science Behind Airport Temperature Settings

Have you ever wondered why airports always seem to be on the chilly side? The temperature inside an airport is not haphazardly controlled; rather, it is carefully regulated based on scientific principles and recommendations from organizations such as the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

Recommendations from ASHRAE

ASHRAE provides guidelines for indoor thermal comfort, and this includes airports. According to their recommendations, the temperature inside an airport should be kept between 68 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (20 to 24 degrees Celsius) during summer months and between 64 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 22 degrees Celsius) during winter months.

These temperature ranges ensure a comfortable environment for passengers and staff, taking into account factors such as clothing insulation and activity levels.

ASHRAE also suggests maintaining a relative humidity level of around 40-60% to prevent dryness or excessive moisture, which can affect comfort and health. Additionally, proper air movement and ventilation are crucial to ensure fresh air circulation and minimize the spread of airborne contaminants.

Factors Considered by HVAC Engineers

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) engineers play a vital role in determining the temperature settings in airports. They consider various factors when designing and controlling the HVAC systems to maintain comfortable temperatures.

One key factor is the large volume of people passing through airports. The body heat generated by a high number of individuals can quickly raise the temperature inside. Therefore, HVAC engineers design systems that can efficiently handle the heat load and maintain the desired temperature range.

Another factor is the airport’s size and layout. Different areas, such as gates, security checkpoints, and waiting lounges, may require different temperature settings based on their specific needs. For example, security areas may need to be slightly cooler to prevent passengers from feeling overheated while waiting in line, while waiting lounges may have slightly higher temperatures to create a more comfortable environment for longer periods of stay.

Differences Between Gates, Security, etc.

When it comes to temperature variations within an airport, there can be noticeable differences between different areas. Gates, security checkpoints, and waiting lounges are just a few examples of areas that may have distinct temperature settings.

Security areas often have more stringent temperature regulations due to the need to balance passenger comfort with security procedures. The constant movement of people through security checkpoints can result in higher temperatures, so these areas are typically kept slightly cooler to compensate.

Waiting lounges, on the other hand, are designed to provide a more relaxed and comfortable atmosphere for longer periods of stay. Therefore, they may have slightly higher temperatures to ensure passengers feel cozy while waiting for their flights.

It’s important to note that while airports strive to maintain comfortable temperatures, individual preferences can vary. Some people may find airports to be colder, while others may feel perfectly comfortable.

Therefore, it’s always a good idea to dress in layers when traveling to accommodate different temperature zones within the airport.

For more information on ASHRAE’s guidelines and recommendations for indoor thermal comfort, you can visit their official website www.ashrae.org.

Tips for Staying Warm in Cold Airports

Pack Layers

When traveling to a cold airport, it’s important to dress in layers to stay warm. Layering your clothing allows you to adjust your comfort level as needed. Start with a base layer made of moisture-wicking material that will keep you dry. Over that, add a insulating layer like a sweater or fleece.

Finally, top it off with a waterproof and windproof outer layer to protect you from the elements. Don’t forget to pack a hat, gloves, and warm socks to keep your extremities cozy.

Bring Warm Accessories

Bringing warm accessories can make a huge difference in staying warm at the airport. Consider packing a travel-sized blanket or a large scarf that can double as a blanket. These items can provide extra warmth and comfort while waiting for your flight.

Additionally, invest in a good pair of insulated boots or shoes to keep your feet warm and toasty, as cold floors can quickly make you feel uncomfortable.

Move Around Frequently

One of the best ways to combat the cold in airports is to keep moving. Sitting for long periods of time can make you feel colder and decrease circulation. Take regular walks around the terminal or stretch your legs while waiting for your flight.

Not only will this help you stay warm, but it can also prevent stiffness and muscle aches from prolonged sitting.

Seek Out Heated Areas

While airports can be chilly, there are usually heated areas available for passengers. Look for seating areas near heat vents or radiators. Some airports even have designated rest zones with heated seating.

If you’re feeling particularly cold, consider grabbing a hot beverage from a cafĂ© or restaurant to warm yourself from the inside out.

Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is essential to keeping warm in cold environments. Dehydration can make you feel colder and cause discomfort. Make sure to drink plenty of water before and during your time at the airport.

If you prefer warm beverages, opt for herbal tea or hot water with lemon to stay hydrated and warm at the same time.

By following these tips, you can stay warm and comfortable during your time at cold airports. Remember to dress in layers, bring warm accessories, move around frequently, seek out heated areas, and stay hydrated.

With these strategies in mind, you’ll be able to navigate the chilly airport temperatures with ease.


In summary, airports are cold for several valid reasons. Their huge open spaces and advanced HVAC systems make temperature control a challenge. The cold settings appeal to the preferences of most travelers. While you may need to bundle up, understanding why airports are chilly can help you plan ahead.

Next time you’re in an airport terminal, don’t curse the cold. Instead, think through the science behind it and take steps to stay comfortable until you reach your warm destination.

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