Photo courtesy of Dr. Daniel Fink

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

I recently flew from Los Angeles to San Francisco. I was pleasantly surprised to see the electronic display screens scroll through a number of messages about free Wi-Fi, mask requirements, availability of free COVID vaccines, and then the announcement: “This is a quiet airport.”

Air travel after 9/11 and then especially during the continuing COVID pandemic is stressful enough. One doesn’t need additional noise to add to the stress.

I tried to find when and where the quiet airport movement started but, in a rare Google search failure, couldn’t find the answer.

London Heathrow was the first place where I became aware of an airport deliberately taking steps to improve the acoustic environment of its passenger terminals, specifically by eliminating flight announcements and relying on digital display boards to notify travelers of gates and loading times, etc.

San Francisco aims to reduce indoor noise by 40%.

Heathrow is trying to do even better by making the airport quieter outside as well, and also trying to reduce carbon emissions. Heathrow calls its program “Fly Quiet and Green.”

We hope all airports adopt indoor and outdoor quiet programs soon. The Federal Aviation Administration should make quiet airports and quieter aircraft a major priority, not just focusing on flight safety and efficiency.

Quiet Communities, Inc.’s Quiet American Skies program is among those advocating for quieter aircraft and less intrusive flight operations.