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FFF: Brief History of Moving Walkways

Did you know the contraptions some people call flat escalators, moving pavement, or even “Trav-O-Lator” machines did not actually begin in airports? In fact, this technology, which is now commonly used for quick connections across terminals, predates powered flight all together.

As one representative from Otis Elevator Company explains “No matter what you choose to call it, a moving walkway is a simple variation of the conveyor belt.”

The first moving sidewalks began appearing in 1958 but the success of these modern marvels was limited due to technical malfunctions and issues involving woman’s clothing, such as high heels.

However, the 1960s saw a breakthrough when American Airlines installed “Astroways” in its Terminal 4 satellite at Los Angeles International Airport. As a sign of things to come, these moving walkways helped to usher in what is known as the “jet age.”

Although these contraptions have become faster, more efficient and even energy savers over the course of the last 50 years, the reason behind their development remains the same: to help people get to their gates with fewer steps and less effort.

For more on the history of moving airport walkways check out the full article here.

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