Queue the music: London City Airport is the first UK airport to play tunes to passengers during security screening

  • In a first for UK airports, London City Airport has started playing a mixture of ambient electronica and upbeat acoustic music to passengers as they go through the airport’s main security search
  • Ed Sheeran’s songs have received the most positive reaction from passengers and staff
  • Music psychologist from The University of Sheffield says that the background music may provide a positive distraction whilst proceeding through security, enhance the experience and help to create a pleasant airport security environment
London City Airport, the only airport actually in London, has become the first UK airport to play music for passengers as they go through the airport’s main security search area.
Two different playlists – either ambient electronica or upbeat acoustic music - are broadcast throughout the day, with songs especially selected by music consultancy C-Burn. Musical artists played through the speaker system include Adele, Ed Sheeran, Ben Howard, Jason Mraz, and Gavin James.
Melanie Burnley, Director of Customer Experience at London City Airport, said:
“It takes passengers just 20 minutes or less to get from the front door of London City Airport to the departure lounge, and we wanted to enhance the customer experience with a soundtrack to security. So far we’ve had a very positive reaction to the musical addition – from staff and passengers alike – with Ed Sheeran currently the most popular artist.”
Music psychologist Dr Stephanie Bramley, an Honorary Research Fellow in the Psychology of Music at The University of Sheffield, says that the background music may have a positive impact on passengers and create an appropriate atmosphere for the security search area whilst passengers proceed through the screening lanes.
Dr Bramley, who has conducted research into the utilisation of music within gambling environments, said:
“Music is a flexible resource which can be used to serve a number of functions in retail and commercial environments. In an airport, playing music which is subtle, fits in with the overall ambiance of the security search area, deemed to be familiar, and liked by passengers, might act as a positive distraction where passengers focus on the music instead of the time spent completing the security search process. The music at London City Airport may also enhance passenger experience by helping to create a pleasant environment and potentially improving their mood.”   
To coincide with the airport’s introduction of music during security, the airport has created a special playlist.
The top 13 air travel-inspired songs according to London City Airport
  • Brian Eno – Ambient 1: Music for Airports
  • Joni Mitchell – This Flight Tonight
  • John Denver – Leaving on a Jet Plane
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers – Aeroplane
  • Frank Sinatra – Come Fly With Me
  • Iggy Pop – The Passenger
  • Daft Punk - Around the World
  • MIA – Paper Planes
  • Madonna – Holiday
  • Randy Crawford – One Day I’ll Fly Away
  • Lenny Kravitz – Fly Away
  • Simon and Garfunkel - Homeward Bound
  • Vengaboys – We’re Going To Ibiza
Download the Spotify playlist here.
A video about what it’s like to be a security officer at London City Airport is available on the airport’s YouTube channel.