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February 20, 2011

The Sounds of Warsaw Airport

by soundlandscapes

ON SATURDAY MORNING, I found myself at Warsaw airport waiting for a flight to Paris. It was a very cold, grey, day and it was snowing.

Warsaw Airport – Terminal 2

Warsaw airport – or to give it it’s proper name these days, Warsaw Frederic Chopin Airport or, in Polish, Lotnisko Chopina w Warszawie – is Poland’s largest airport with around one hundred scheduled flights a day. It accounts for around 50% of Polish air traffic and is used by about nine million passengers each year.

Warsaw airport has two terminals. Terminal 2 is the newer of the two. It opened in 2008. Terminal 1 was opened in 1992 replacing the former communist building. I experienced the communist terminal on my first trip to Poland in 1989 – not an experience I would recommend!

Warsaw Airport – Terminal 1

On Saturday I had a couple of hours to spare before boarding my flight and, since Air France flights depart from Terminal 1, I decided to record some of the sounds there.

The Sound Outside Warsaw Airport Terminal 1:

Outside Terminal 1 the sounds comprised mainly traffic passing by in the slush but I was struck by how this was a soft, gentle, almost soothing sound compared to the harsh and often hostile traffic sounds in Paris. A loudspeaker outside the terminal building relays the announcements from inside which I think is a good idea.

Warsaw Airport – Terminal 1

Not surprisingly, inside, Terminal 1 has a much older feel to it than the new Terminal 2. It wasn’t very busy on Saturday but I have been there in the summer when it’s been very crowded and then it’s not a pleasant place to be.

The glider suspended from the roof is an interesting diversion.

The Sound Inside Warsaw Airport Terminal 1:

I have a collection of sounds that I have recorded in airport terminals around the world. In older terminal buildings it is sometimes possible to find distinctive sounds but in today’s new terminals the sounds, in whichever country they are recorded, seem to morph into just one overall airport terminal sound – only the languages are different.

So, having collected sounds from Warsaw airport for my sound archive, it was time to head off for the Mother Ship, Paris … and home.

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