Passenger Experience Initiatives

lead-airport-facilities-passenger-experience-image-2

Operating in a volatile environment, airlines today are influenced by a variety of external factors that impact their business – either on the ground or in the air.

Extreme weather conditions, natural disasters, mechanical problems, labour issues, air traffic congestion, security alerts and other disruptions can not only damage an airline’s brand value but also generate unexpected costs, not to mention the fact that it puts tremendous pressure on the airports and the ground staff to accommodate passengers on next flights.

To deal with such delays, airlines as well as to an extent airports need the agility to restore normal services swiftly and cost-efficiently.

images

Airports, both large and small, are noisy, crowded and stressful. As global air traffic continues to grow—the International Air Traffic Association estimates the current volume will double by 2035—and airports everywhere will be feeling the impact.

images (1)

Crowded terminals and runways, longer queues and wait times and increased number of frustrated passengers seems like an impending doom for the travel business.

Airport operators who cannot expand their infrastructures due to environmental issues, space restrictions or a lack of capital must find new approaches to be more efficient and responsive to passenger needs.

Technology and access to accurate data can greatly improve an airport’s operational efficiency to improve passenger experience, which is the need of the hour with millions of travellers taking to air.

Airport_Design_Blog_1200x627

International hubs such as Dubai, Changi and Helsinki are concentrating on how to deliver high quality experience to travellers using their services.

images (2)

Massive airport expansions and an emphasis on creating Zen-like atmospheres, or designing more open spaces and adding  facilities is fine but to deliver the best possible passenger experience involves synchronizing with multiple operators by getting ahead of issues, before they become disruptions.

A Total Airport Management approach is needed by using real-time data to detect, and even predict, passenger needs hours in advance, and deal with emerging situations before they become problems.

A holistic view of the passenger, that begins even before they leave their homes. Weather, road and rail conditions can impact their arrival times at the airport, while flight delays can change the departure times and could impact their onward journey. Knowing these factors beforehand and understanding passenger volume and activity helps airports optimize wait times and better coordinate the passenger experience.

Retail partners better anticipate foot traffic and revenues.

Using data on meteorological conditions, flight prioritization, runway traffic loads, aircraft turn-around times, and baggage and passenger operations mean reduced delays, unnecessary fuel burn, and cost savings for airlines.

Outside data sources, such as weather and traffic information, can be pulled in to support decision making (e.g. by anticipating flight delays due to rain, fog or likely storms airports can call in more staff to handle the unforeseen delays).

What passengers want from air travel is to get to their destinations on time with minimal inconvenience and stress.

To provide this experience for growing volumes of passengers, airports must forecast capacity demand years, seasons, months, weeks, days in advance, to be as prepared as possible.

Information regarding estimated wait times for security screenings, customs processing and baggage arrival should be used on airport displays to provide airport maps and show passengers how to get to where they need to go without unnecessary delay.

aircraft

As air travel increases, airports that lack the funding and/or space to expand their facilities must find ways to minimize disruptions and deliver exceptional service to passengers and airlines alike by adopting technology-driven capabilities that provide greater end-to-end visibility and planning across landside and airside operations.

When your customers only travel every now and then, their airport experience is a big deal. Your infrequent air travellers are often vacationers, and their experience forms an integral part of their overall vacation experience, setting the mood for the entire trip.

-M

 

 

 

 

PC- Dsilymail;happyornot.com;internationalairportreview
OS: – www.internationalairportreview.com

Check your Visa before you board your flight

indianvisa

Recently on our travels, while we were standing in the queue to board our flight from Amsterdam to New Delhi, there was a passenger ahead of us who wasn’t allowed to board the flight as due to an issue with his E-visa.

Apparently he hadn’t received a confirmation/approval of him being issued an E-visa  and was refrained from boarding.

Not to be confused with Visa on Arrival, E-visa must have an approval electronically, which is later stamped on the passport on arrival.

The Government of India, has now extended its e-visa facility which is an electronic authorization to travel to India for citizens of 165 countries at the 25 international airports and 5 seaports.

Check the country eligibility here-

https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/tvoa.html

The Indian e-Visa is issued for single double or multiple entries for visits with a duration of stay up to 90 days from date of first entry for tourist purposes, and up to 180 days for business purposes. Canada, Japan, UK and USA nationals are allowed stays of up to 180 days for tourist visits.

A traditional visa is obtained through an application process where the traveler must submit their original passport along with application materials in order for the visa to be approved. It is stamped inside the passport. While the process itself takes longer and requires more paperwork, the visa that is issued has a longer validity and allows multiple entries.

Eligible citizens traveling for leisure/tourism, business, or medical purposes have the option to apply for an Indian visa online, and have their visa granted electronically. The visa will then get stamped in the passport upon arrival in India, at which time biometrics (fingerprints) will also be taken.

No, it is not possible to apply for an Indian visa at the airport after you land.

All visas, including e-Visas, must be applied for before travel. Most airlines will not let you board without a valid visa.

There have been cases in the past where passengers have applied for an evisa and have booked their travel without waiting for an official electronic confirmation of their visa being granted. They have concluded of their application confirmation as a visa confirmed status.

However as I was researching for this I found that the information on the website is lacking in some clarity regarding visa on arrival and evisa directives.

It’s better to cross check the details with the airlines and travel agents, in case of any doubts, before embarking on your journey.

For more information on tourist visa on arrival click here-

https://www.india.gov.in/spotlight/encouraging-inbound-tourism-tourist-visa-arrival-tvoa-scheme#tvoa2

For more information on the Indian E-visa click here-

https://visacentral.com/about-india-e-visa

evisa

-M

Did you Know?

Read below for some Interesting Facts about Airports, Airlines and Air Travelling, that you probably didn’t know.

boeing1

  • All International Airline Pilots must speak English. The ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) standard is that English is the only official “universal” language for telephony in civil aviation. This essentially means that all official communications in the Air Traffic Control system should be available in English in order to be considered ICAO Compliant.
  • Flights longer than 8 hours require 3 pilots (1 captain and 2 first officers) to rotate flying duties. Flights longer than 12 hours require 4 pilots (1 captain and 3 first officers). They usually fly 3-4 hour shifts.

pilots

  • Though it’s technically not mandated by the FAA, each airline pilot flying the aircraft, eats a different meal to minimize the risk of all pilots on board being ill.
  • The height requirement for Flight Attendant is for safety reasons, making sure that all flight attendants can reach overhead safety equipment.
  • Dimming the lights for takeoff and landing isn’t a mood effect. It’s done so passengers’ eyes can adjust to the dark, just in case there’s an emergency that shuts off the lights. Similarly, flight attendants have passengers raise their window shades during landing, so they can see outside in an emergency and assess if one side of the plane is better for an evacuation.
  • Keeping the blinds open while take-off and landing is for the passengers to spot any fire in the wings or to spot any vehicles in the tarmac so they could alert the crew.
  • Instruction to fasten the seat belts and to make the seat upright while take-off and landing is primarily for the safety of the passengers. But it also stabilizes the centre of gravity of the aircraft and helps controlling the plane.
  • It’s impossible to lock yourself in the bathroom. Do you ever notice how the flight attendants flip a little switch on the lavatory door before takeoff and landing? That switch locks the door so it won’t fly open and can be flipped on or off at any time.
  • An air traveler can lose approximately 1.5 liters of water in the body during a three-hour flight. That dry air saps the water from your body, to the tune of about 8 ounces an hour, which is roughly a two-litre bottle during a 10-hour long-haul flight. Stay hydrated, friends.
  • You lose out on a third of your taste buds during flights. About a third of your taste buds are numbed at altitude, which is why the savory flavors in tomato juice are enhanced — a big reason why people crave Bloody Marys and think they taste so much better on planes.
  • The safety instructions on most flight include how to use the oxygen masks that are deployed when the plane experiences a sudden loss in cabin pressure. However, one that thing that the flight attendants don’t tell you is that oxygen masks only have about 15-minutes worth of oxygen. That sounds like a frighteningly short amount of time, but in reality that should be more than sufficient. Oxygen masks drop when the airplane cabin loses pressure, which means the plane is also losing altitude. Pilots respond to that situation by moving the plane to an altitude below 10,000 feet, where passengers can simply breathe normally, no extra oxygen required.

masks

  • Ever notice trails left by planes. Those white lines that planes leave in the sky are simply trails of condensation, hence their technical name of “contrails.” Plane engines release water vapor as part of the combustion process. When that hot water vapor is pumped out of the exhaust and hits the cooler air of the upper atmosphere, it creates those puffy white lines in the sky. It’s basically the same reaction as when you see your breath when it’s cold outside.
  • Some airplanes have secret bedrooms for flight crew. On long-haul flights, cabin crew can work 16-hour days. To help combat fatigue, some planes, like the Boeing 777 and 787 Dreamliners, are outfitted with tiny bedrooms where the flight crew can get a little shut-eye. The bedrooms are typically accessed via a hidden staircase that leads up to a small, low-ceilinged room with 6 to 10 beds, a bathroom, and sometimes in-flight entertainment.

crew rest

  • The largest passenger plane was the Airbus 380 – nearly 240 feet long, almost 80 feet high, and has a wingspan of more than 260 feet. The double-decker plane with a standard seating capacity of 555 passengers is being retired after just 12 years in commercial service.  The A380 is expensive for airlines to fuel and maintain. Filling up an upwards of 550 plus seats look impressive on paper, but troublesome from a business perspective. The aviation industry is about “putting butts in seats,” as the saying goes. So if you can’t fill up those seats the airline is in serious trouble.
  • You ever notice that little hole in the bottom of your window? That little hole in the plane window might save your life. That’s the breather hole, and besides keeping in warm air so you don’t get too chilly, it regulates pressure — ensuring that should anything happen to the outer pane of the window, the pressure won’t cause the inner pane to break, at which point you’d suddenly be sucking in oxygen at 35,000 feet.

window

  • Usually, turbulence only drops you a few feet in the air. Though you might feel like you’re on the top floor of Tower of Terror, run-of-the-mill light turbulence only drops the plane a few feet in altitude. Moderate turbulence — the kind pilots tell the flight attendants to sit down for — moves the plane 10-20 feet. Severe, white-knuckle, talk-about-it-for-the-rest-of-your-life turbulence might move a plane 100 feet in the most extreme circumstances.
  • The average Boeing 747 has around 150-175 miles of wiring inside it…and about 6 million parts and is more fuel efficient than a hybrid.
  • Planes can fly with one engine, and land with none Not that the pilot is going to get on the intercom and tell you about it, but commercial jets are designed to fly with only one operable engine. And can glide their way to the ground with no engine power at all. So if your plane breaks down mid-air, you’ll still likely land in one piece!
  • There’s a red light on the left wing and a green light on the right. At night, it’s hard for pilots to see other aircraft. Every plane has a red light on the left wing and green on the right, so other pilots can easily identify which way the plane is facing and what direction it’s going.

lights

  • King Fahd International Airport, Dammam Saudi Arabia tops the list of the 10 largest airports in the world by size. With a total area of 780 square kilometers, the airport’s total area exceeds that of the country of Bahrain! Most of the property, however, is not put into use. In fact, only 37 square kilometers are dedicated for airport usage. That is only about 5%!

fahd

  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) is the busiest airport in the world.  Retaining the title since 1997, Hartsfield-Jackson remains in the pole position,according to the Airports Council International’s world traffic report, which was released on Sept. 16, 2019. More than 107 million passengers scurried along its lengthy concourses, rode its underground train (the Plane Train) and were lifted up and down its vertigo-inducing escalators, making it the busiest passenger airport in the world for 21 years in a row.
  • Changi Airport Singapore is voted the World’s Best Airport 2019 by international air travellers for the seventh consecutive year.

-jewel-changi-retail

  • KLM -Royal Dutch Airlines is the worlds’ oldest airline which was established in 1919. It recently celebrated 100 years of flying high!

klm

 

-M

PC: BusinessInsider;Wired;TheTelegraph;Airbus;Dailymail

Airports of the Future.

chicago

In the past few years there has been a massive thirst for travel, whether for business or leisure. It’s as if the entire world is taking to the skies.

Aviation, although only somewhat acknowledged, has always been a catalyst for economic growth, enabling people and businesses to reach a global marketplace for goods and services and to travel for work, leisure or education.

Air freight is essential to modern life, but it is in the movement of people (precious cargo) that airports have the greatest effect on economic development.

Which is why, across the globe, airports are under intense pressure to expand and renew their facilities, with modern IT enabled services.

Airports are expensive. Maintaining them requires huge amounts of cash inflow. In an economic climate where governments are increasingly cutting expenditure to reduce debt, government financing and full ownership of airports is not always a sustainable or a sufficient source of revenue, hence privatization of airports is a must with the fundamental motive of arranging finances to upgrade or expand airports. Large amounts of  capital investments is needed by airports not only to keep operations smooth, since most of the work must be completed without interrupting current airport operations, but also to enable airports to make money from their investments.

Two-fifths of airport revenues in evolved airports around the world, come from retail and food outlets, car parking, advertising and other such ancillary revenues.

To stay in business, airports need to keep passengers streaming through their departure gates and through their shops, restaurants and bars. Plane tickets may be getting cheaper , but one way or the other, we all end up paying more for bigger, better airports by way of taxes and surcharges.

Airports of the future: areas set for radical change.

Airports are changing fast, as the rise of new technologies and growing environmental constraints play a crucial role in shaping the future of aviation. Airports are anything but static environments. Internal and external pressures are forcing hubs around the world to evolve into advanced, sustainable complexes offering a service that goes beyond mere transportation. Every competing global hub today vies to offer an experience like no other; newer attractions are being marketed as ‘destination airports’ rather than a ‘transiting’ one.

Baggage reclaim areas repurposed to increase capacity.

Barring the fully automated airport terminals around the world, there are still a lot many airports that need to address the issue of baggage handling, especially in smaller airports which provide the last mile connectivity. The issues of missing/ stolen baggage often leads to angst and stress amongst passengers and airport staff, not to mention the financial damages.

web_Changi-T4-Singapore-3-HR-Credit-Benoy
Changi Airport

Shorter security checks.

Checkpoint screening systems will eliminate longer queues and recurring causes of disruption and delays at border controls. Airports are considering using technologies that can scan liquids and other materials from inside bags. Using advanced software and detection algorithms and 3D volumetric imaging, it would mean that passengers would no longer have to take liquids or electronic devices out of their bags.

Improving public transport links.

Many airports are working alongside partners and stakeholders to reduce their carbon footprint, from departure halls to the airport apron by improving surface access and train links and promoting public transport over cars.

This much-needed collaborative effort from both the railways and aviation could lead to higher volumes of rail travellers, cheaper trips and, in the long term, fewer cars reaching the airport every day.

If this concept proves effective, it would mean that airports can resize and re-use car parks to meet the growing capacity demands.

Biometric Scanners.

As part of the check-in process passengers will be scanned for biometric identifiers like facial features, iris patterns and fingerprints to verify their identities. This information is shared with immigration and security officials to streamline the arrival and departure process.

This technology, already undergoing trial at Heathrow, Schiphol, and Changi airports, could be used to track passengers from arrival to departure. It’s faster – and more reliable – than checking passports manually.

AI-in-Airport

Customer service: the rise of robots.

In the coming decades, robots are likely to take over several customer-facing jobs currently held by airport staff, especially as airports grow overcrowded.

Technology is already replacing admin jobs at check-in desks, with most airlines encouraging customers to use their apps for check-in and many implementing self-service bag drops.

But as years go by, we will likely say goodbye to staff working at bars and restaurants and many other areas of the departure hall, leaving space for robots.

As airplanes are changing to becoming more fuel and environment efficient so must airports too. From check in to disembarking, airport innovation should focus on offering efficiency.

Travellers world over are always on the lookout for a memorable travelling experience before they have even boarded the planes.

-M

 

 

OS:APH.com;AirportTechnology.com
PC:Telegraph.CO.UK;INdesignLiveSingapore;The National

Flying with Emotional Support Animal

dog1

Pets are comforting companions for kids and adults alike. There is no denying that pets keep us healthy and relieve stress. They play with us and show us unconditional love.

Lately keeping a pet as an Emotional Support Animal (ESA)– an untrained companion of any species that provides solace to someone with a disability, such as anxiety or depression is becoming , should I say “fashionable’ for lack of a better word.

And an increasing number of pet owners have of late been taking their pets  into public spaces including travelling in airplanes , more so in the cabins -rather than the holds—simply by claiming that the creatures are  their licensed companion animals and are necessary to their mental well-being.

The list of weird and wondrous beasts that have accompanied their owners on scheduled flights in the US includes a turkey, a kangaroo, and a duck by the name of Mr. Stinkerbutt and a miniature Appaloosa horse.

peacock

There was also a peacock, who was turned away by United for not meeting its guidelines of weight and size, despite of the owner who offered to buy a separate ticket, and Hobey the pot-bellied pig took a pre-takeoff dump in the aisle of an American Airlines flight and both pig and owner were ushered off – proof that peacocks and pigs really can’t fly.

pigsfly

Luckily the good citizens of the US of A have the law on their side. The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities.

As noble as it is intended, the purpose of the law is to ensure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else, including equal rights of employment, housing and also the same rights to transportation aboard public entities such as airlines.

If a disabled person requires the assistance of a service animal the airline must accommodate the service animal, but there’s more to it than that. The key difference between a service dog and an emotional support dog is whether the animal has been trained to perform a specific task or job directly related to the person’s disability. For example, service dogs are trained to alert a hearing-impaired person to an alarm or to guide a visually impaired person around an obstacle.

So when pet owners insist on taking along an animal for want of emotional support all they need is an exemption- a letter from a certified healthcare provider, stating that the animal provides emotional support that eases one or more of the symptoms or effects of the disability, to substantiate their claims and Bingo! – They are legally entitled to take their friend along when they fly.

The United States – Air Carrier Access Act entitles passengers to fly with their E.S.A. at no extra charge, although airlines typically require the animal to stay on the lap or under the seat.

But Airlines are now fighting back. Between 2016 and 2018 the number of passengers taking their ESA on a flight in the US has increased from 561,000 to more than 1 million. And with that, the number of incidents involving ESAs pooing, peeing or biting other passengers and cabin crew have also increased.

horse

Many airlines have changed their policies when it comes to flying with an emotional support animal. Which is why most carriers are now either banning ESAs from flights over eight hours or putting in stipulated conditions for flying with ESA’s such as-

  • Banning specific animals from the cabin, including amphibians, ferrets, goats, hedgehogs, insects, reptiles, rodents, snakes, spiders, sugar gliders and any animal with tusks, horns or hooves.
  • The animals must be able to fit at the passengers’ feet, under the seat and are small enough to “fit fully on the passengers’ lap without touching any part of the seat or adjacent customers.
  • The animal cannot be seated in an exit row, block aisles, occupy seats or eat from tray tables.
  • The animals will have to remain leashed throughout the flight.

Airline employees are now able to exclude animals they consider to be a safety risk. While airlines might have thousands of trained service animals flying in a month, they may need to accommodate much more as untrained support animals in the already constrained cabin. Untrained animals have not only attacked trained service dogs, but also bitten flight attendants and other passengers. Not to mention, pets could also be the reason for spreading certain allergens.

Turkey-On-Board

Whether one truly and genuinely needs a support animal travelling with them needs to have strict and proper guidelines/rules to ensure access to service animal assistance for people with disabilities , while maintaining the safety, health and security of all other passengers and crew onboard planes.

 

 

 

 

PC:The Sun;CNBC;United Airlines;CBS News;LoyaltyLobby

Biometrics :The Checkpoint of the future.

biom

If you have recently travelled from any airport in the world, you would have noticed an obvious change in the entire security and boarding process. I’m talking about Biometrics here.

During the past few months, it has become clearer than ever before that biometrics technology will be at the heart of the airport of tomorrow.

Changi-Airport-T4

A number of international airports, including the likes of Changi Airport, SingaporeKempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru and Hong Kong International Airport, have emerged as front-runners in Asia, with all three committing to major biometrics-related projects that will play a crucial role in shaping the passenger experience.

blr

And not just for the travellers, biometric solutions have begun revolutionizing the airport experience for all its stakeholders involved – airlines, airport operations, vendors, government, and law enforcement agencies.

Up until about five years ago, biometrics was what we used in our mobile devices. Remember using your fingerprints to unlock your phones?

facial recog

Well today biometrics and facial recognition is bent on creating a seamless digital transformation in the aviation environment. This will enable a paperless, biometric-enabled passenger journey from registration to boarding. Facial recognition technology will identify passengers as they move through the different airport touch points, removing the need to present boarding passes, travel documents or passports at every stage.

And the focus on making travellers safer and the customer experience more convenient throughout the aviation journey – everything from check-in, bag-checks and security to airport shopping is taking shape.

Security is, of course, of the utmost importance, and rightly so – given the times we live in today.

Airport Security Groups along with Customs and Border Protection personnel are working daily (and nightly) to keep our skies safe, which is why biometrics is so important to the security process.

Having the ability to instantly verify that documents are valid and to match the identity and confirmed reservation of the traveller ensures that only genuine passengers move towards the boarding gates on the other side of the security line.

Biometric security enhancements are more accurate at screening individuals as well as quicker to get the lines moving faster through security.

_101124534_changi3

With the ability to predict wait times, passengers are able to spend more time doing what they choose, from relaxing in the lounge, to visiting duty-free shops.

Big change cannot be driven solely by the technology alone. More collaboration among industry stakeholders is critical to the success of the digital revolution in commercial aviation, for a better customer experience, improved commerce, cost and time-savings, optimized security and smoother airport operations.

Next time you’re at the airport, think about how biometrics could be improving airport operations, and making your life more secure.

 

 

 

 

 

OS:NEC Today; FTE
PC:Changi Airport; CondeNestTraveller; ABC News; CNA; APEA; CNN

Qantas ‘Project Sunrise’

qantas dreamliner-1160x773

There is a palpable excitement in the air. The clock is ticking on, following the announcement that Qantas has put out on for testing an extremely long haul flight from the east coast of Australia (Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne) to London and New York.

Both Boeing and Airbus are working on providing an aircraft with ultra-long-range capabilities. The chosen plane needs to be capable of flying 10,573 miles nonstop, a journey which is pegged to take in the range of 21 hours in total.

Qantas will select the aircraft by end of this year. Till then the global attention is on the airline and speculation about its choice of aircraft is mounting.

‘Project Sunrise’ is Qantas’ goal to operate long haul research flights to gather data about both passenger and crew health on flying such a long journey. Three flights will be conducted in October, November and December and the data gathered will be used to track the health and well-being of passengers and crew members on board the approximately 19-hour long flight.

The Australian airline will carry 40 passengers and crew on two flights from New York to Sydney and another from London to Sydney.

The test passengers on the flights will mainly be Qantas employees, as well as scientists. Passengers and crew will be fitted with wearable technology devices to monitor sleep patterns and food and drink consumption, and to see how lighting, physical movement and in-flight entertainment impact their health.

For passengers the key will be in minimizing jet lag and creating an environment where they are looking forward to a restful, enjoyable flight.

For crew, it’s about using scientific research to determine the best opportunities to promote alertness when they are on duty and maximize rest during these flights.

Long-haul travel takes its toll on the body. Deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), blood clots that can form particularly in the legs, is one peril. Nausea, Jet Lag and back pain from sitting for too long are another.   Airlines like Qantas will have to consider allowing more space for passengers to move if it goes ahead with its ambitious plan of across the world non- stop flight..

If all goes well, Qantas aims to operate regular, non-stop flights to London and New York from Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne as soon as 2022/23.

Frankly for business travellers this could be a time saver but I have my doubts whether any family with kids would be keen on taking this flight. It would be an absolute nightmare keeping the kids cooped up in such a long flight. The lack of space, boredom and sheer monotony of air travel would be such a bother even with business class seats –read flat beds.

What about you? Would you be sold to the idea of flying non- stop from Sydney to New York for 21 hours straight? Please share your views in the comments.

 

 

 

OS:SimpleFlying; AustralianAviation; Business Insider
PC: Qantas