Passenger Experience Initiatives

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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

 

 

 

 

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Did you Know?

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

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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%!

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  • 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.

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

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-M

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Airports of the Future.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

 

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