Building an airport information hub

Building an airport information hub


Challenges and opportunities

London’s Heathrow Terminal 5 is one of the world’s most exciting airport terminals and a fitting gateway to the UK. On average, 25m passengers travel through T5 each year.

Heathrow wanted a way to support all their international passengers, providing information for a range of travel needs. They asked Engine to design the airport information hub, which became a dedicated information zone in T5 arrivals. We produced the specifications for the physical and digital details of the hub and detailed staff roles and guidelines. The Terminal 5 Information Zone opened in 2008, reducing queue times and easing congestion through arrivals.

  • BAA info chal_sml

What we did

To help Heathrow communicate with its customers, Engine needed to understand what information customers really needed and how to best deliver it. We reviewed customer data from Heathrow and researched in the airport, including shadowing current terminal information assistants and passengers.

We developed personas to represent customers with different needs and mapped a range of customer journeys to demonstrate routes through the airport and different travel scenarios that customers may encounter. A solution emerged to move away from the current operational model of manned desks with queuing structures to a one-stop hub with a combination of staff support, self-serve and information screens.

Engine used our understanding of customer goals, visions of ideal interactions and wayfinding, and communication design to refine a final concept for providing information in the airport and how Heathrow could deliver it.

We created design specifications to detail and enable the delivery of the information needs of T5 customers. This covered information architecture for on-screen information across the zone, staff roles and support, and self-serve solutions. Engine also acted as concept guardians, ensuring our designs were delivered maintaining the highest quality.


The final design and concept for the T5 Information Zone enabled customers to access information and services quickly and easily, on a self-serve basis as well as with the assistance of staff. The zone was designed to be an eye-catching beacon that provided a calm and welcoming environment. The concept served to minimised queues and aided passenger flow through the terminal.

The Terminal 5 Information Zone opened in 2008. See what our client had to say about working with Engine in this short film.

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