My Principles of Cafes and Shops

  1. All the franchises in the Check-in and Departures area are relatively low star but oversized (ie 150%-200% of the size that is stated in the minimum of the contract) in order to deal with the 4AM rush. The time when everyone is waiting for an early flight but are hungry and the franchises are closed - when the franchises open at 04:00 they all rush and queue at the same time. The knock-on effect of this is that fights get delayed due to missing PAX, and the remote stand buses don’t leave the bus stop so the outgoing flight has to be dismissed with no PAX on board. The oversizing allows more cash desks to be provided (I usually put in a double one where a single one would suffice normally, and two doubles for one double) which clears the rush queue more effectively. The trade off is reduced income per floor tile (the francises only pay up to the size stated in the contract), against increased passenger and airline satisfaction, and virtually guaranteed contract completion and completion bonus. The franchisee obviously pays for the extra staff needed to run the cash desks, but that’s a matter for them.

  2. Cafe in Check-in hall (1* for terminal with mainly small stands, 2* for terminal with medium stands, 3* for terminal with large stands), next to seating but out of the way of the entrance/Check-in desks circulation. I have previously found that a shop in Check-in rarely makes its contract target - whether this has changed with the new contract set-up I will find out during my current build.

  3. Cafe and Shop in Departure hall (starting with 2* in small terminal, 3* in medium terminal), on the path between Security and the Departure Gates, usually the Cafe first, then the Shop, as the PAX tend to visit the franchises in that order. They will go back to the Cafe if they need to, but they won’t usually walk past the Cafe back to Shop, unless the franchises are next to a large seating area. [Yes, I’ve spent a little while observing PAX behaviour while waiting for building to finish or the airport to generate a bit of cash.]

  • This example is a little more complex, the left-hand cafe (3* contract) was originally to the right of the larger cafe (4* contract), but I needed to expand the Security area when I added the new Gate arm to the left of the picture. So I moved it to the current position. Previously the small original cafe was the most populated, and the larger cafe I put in to spread the load wasn’t as frequented by the PAX. When I put the new one in and removed the original, the larger cafe became the most frequented, and the new cafe almost didn’t make its contract, but as soon as the new Gates came online the use became more even. The shop (3*) was put in where it is because that was the only space available for it at the time. As it’s the only shop, if the PAX need to shop, they’ll go there.


  1. In a medium terminal, I’ve recently been segregating Departures and Arrivals, and in that case, I have put a 2* cafe and 1* shop just before Baggage Claim in order to satisfy any eating or shopping requirements from the arriving PAX [read elsewhere for my experiences of the current PAX behaviour]. These are contract-sized with cash desks to suit as there isn’t the surge in demand as at 04:00 with the departing PAX. If the franchises aren’t open they usually just ignore their needs and go collect their bags and exit. I guess they just want to be back at home… I’m in the early stages on this and have had differing results on the profitability of the franchises in this location.



  2. I haven’t got round to doing Large International terminals much, apart from an abortive build on a previous vanilla run-through, and a couple of Sandbox builds, just to get my eye in, so to speak. I would imagine that similar principles would work, but scaled up to match the higher PAX thoughput, and, of course, using the restaurant-type catering esablishments.

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Do you find issues with say for example you have two food (or shop) facilities next door to each other so both short distances, but all customers go directly to the one nearest to their last checkpoint for example once cleared security checkpoint?

I find in that example the one closest gets 3-4x the required sales, and the one directly next door but strictly speaking further away, gets a fraction of that. I’ve tried swapping the franchises around, same issue. It’s very odd. are they just simply so hungry after security they are desperate to go to nearest or maybe issue in the coding and pathfinding

Yes, that is an issue most times, that is why I go for ‘the bigger the better’ rather than distributing several small cafes around the terminal. It is annoying when there’s a big 3* cafe in the middle of the Departure hall but everyone is queueing at the little 1* cafe in the middle of the small stand gate area - even the ones flying out on a B757 from a gate at the end of an arm half-way down the main terminal building…

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