Civilised Airports Put Stuff After Security Control

I travelled just enough last year (although mostly not on business) to start analysing air travel, as some of my colleagues have done for a while.

And so I’m afraid this post is another whinge about airports. Why o why do they ever put interesting stuff (i.e., shops) before security control? OK, sure, some relatives come to see people off, so a coffee shop or two might not go amiss in larger terminals. But apart from that, why bother? Doesn’t every rational person proceed through security control as soon as they’ve checked in - and don’t they check in as soon as they’ve entered the airport?

I’m sure my mind is missing an airport use case.


These Yotels might be interesting for when there are delays at the airport:
"So why do people turn up so early? Inexperience?" Multiple reasons. The main reason I turn up very early (even with hundreds of flights under my belt) is that the marginal cost of getting to checkin a minute late is very high whereas the marginal cost of getting there a minute too early is very low. In other words, there is a strong incentive to have a bias towards caution. I've never (to date) ever missed a flight. I've always been fortunate enough to have left enough time to cope with cabs that forgot to turn up, bad traffic, accidents, etc, etc. The penalty for leaving enough time to cope with such scenarios is that sometimes you arrive very early. My employer's flight booking tool invariably forces us onto very cheap, inflexible fares..... switching to a later flight if you miss the one you're on isn't an option. You have to forfeit the ticket and rebook.... try explaining that to your manager. The other reason people often turn up early is because they're travelling in a group and want to meet up with their friends and check in together.
a lot of people actually turn up the night before their flight via the latest coach / tube as their flight is too early the next morning to make it on the earliest coach / tube this then leads on to the 'checkin hasn't opened' scenario above - with a slightly more extreme 6 hours to kill so it is quite nice to have a coffee shop / bar available
OK, that makes sense, given what you've said. So the follow-on question is: why do they turn up so early? I've only ever done what you describe once, when the security scares were at their highest and I was being a bit over-cautious. Assuming that's an exceptional event, the only other reason I can think of is poor public transport: it's unreliable so people have to over-compensate, or it's infrequent so they have to turn up way too early. I'm not convinced that accounts for all the cases though, particularly since so many arrive by car. So why do people turn up so early? Inexperience? Do they perhaps not realise that they can't check in? Or do they just want to savour the heady atmosphere of Heathrow Terminal 4?
A surprisingly large number of travellers turn up at the airport *before* checkin has opened for their flight (bonkers, I know). That means that they are stuck on the land side with nothing to do until checkin opens... captive market you neglect if you go airside only?