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03 January '14 | Gopikrishna Aravindan

Disruptive Traveler amidst Airport hullaballoo

Posted on: 25 July '13

Airline Industry

Frequency of air travel has increased over the time. When we enter an airport, we step into a complex-structured environment. We witness people standing in long queues, running to board flights, invariably checking their watches repeatedly.

They say, the experience is as important as the destination. The goal for a traveler in an airport is to check-in, drop his/her baggage, go for security check and finally board the aircraft. This sums up a typical passenger journey. One of the pain points in this journey is the waiting time and crowd funneling prominently before the check-in/baggage drop. According to TripAdvisor’s annual air travel poll (March 2013), the biggest pet peeve among air travelers:  Having to pay extra fees for checked baggage, carry-on bags and seat selection. Printed boarding passes and in-flight amenities were also identified among the top five most annoying airline fees.

Personalization and customization of services for passengers when they are inside the airport and easily approachable can be a good opportunity catch point. We can divide a passenger’s airport journey into four stages:

  • Pre-travel stage
  • Check-in and document verification
  • Baggage management
  • Security check and boarding

Facilitating the passenger (with less or without baggage) with easy and quick assistance during check-in can eventually reduce their waiting time and congestion.

With hyper connectivity on the rise, a majority people are seen occupied on their digital gadgets. Their attention span is distractive and selective. They demand easy accessibility, service quality and experiential value immersed with novelty. As a consequence of constant technological transformations, the consumer is subjected to adapt, update and accept the prevalent systems at a fast pace. Airlines and ground handling companies currently are trying to address opportunities that enable customer service with the use of mobile technology. Introduction of technologies like NFC, real time mobile updates, RFID, etc., have envisioned improvement in the whole experience – For instance, transformation from print-at-home boarding pass to mobile boarding pass and ancillary service offers to the subsequent NFC boarding swipe technology.

Complete self-check-in (mobile/kiosk) and automated bag drop or self-luggage tagging would ultimately result in absolute traveler empowerment and clearing out the airport floor space to a great extent. Making the user less dependent on the floor manual assistance unless it is necessary for undeniable reasons, can help in achieving fast track goal for the airline industry.

Hence, while designing an experiential service solution for such mobile passengers in a transiently used space like an airport, one has to remember some core factors: impact of time, expedite the non-stationary passengers and the retail value of the floor space for customer services (directly converts into a new revenue model). Currently, the above considerations are not effectively optimized to make the traveler experience seamless and less disruptive.

Do you have any thoughts where we can step in within the airport operations or a passenger’s journey experience for faster ground service? Please share your comments.

  • Ronald Hill

    The technological era is upon us and those things listed in your article are some major reasons to update the system.
    All those things can be done and it’s going to take everyone involved to help make this transaction happen, using the ideas listed above the software needed for this would and should be somewhat easy to build, your problem would be the other airlines in competition for customers using the systems to pay for themselves.I think it is a great idea in theory, and this will definitely benefit the passengers traveling, all in all I’m willing to assist in this project because I’m a traveler and knows the hang ups at the airport.

    • Thank you Ronald, for the encouragement and support. The idea here is to target the airport ground handling system which in turn would dictate the individual Airline assistance.

      If you have any ideas, concerns or suggestions regarding the same, it will be great to work on this together.
      It is meant for a travelers’ easement, your insight will definitely be valuable.

      Regards,
      Taniya

  • Vinay

    Good insights and direction. Business week published an article last week that you might want to read: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-07-26/how-to-cut-the-airport-line

    • The article conveys a clever way for monetizing the “Global Entry” concept. Its service with a cost. But it does serves the purpose and an innovative model.

      Regards,
      Taniya

    • VZ

      That article in Businessweek seems more like the best third-world solution: a cash bribe to advance in the line!

  • Abhishek Bharara

    Although Airports around the world are using Self Check Ins and other Technologies.

    I feel, the main concern in Indian context is the Security, Adaptability to new technology and the capital cost required to facilitate such technologies.

    Also, I believe that availability of Not So Expensive work force in Developing Countries discourages Automation of such procedures.

    Just an example, if you visit a mall-Shopping Arcade in US, all you interact with is and automated boom gate and at exit you swipe your credit card to pay and exit, you find your own parking space with very little human interaction.

    Whereas, in India, there are a team of 4 guards to salute, to check the Boot Space, to check under your car and give an entry ticket to you. At every ramp, turn, there are people with flash lights giving you directions. (Indians like to be serviced)

    So, although one class of people would agree and are receptive to all these new ways. There is still a mental block we need to clear…

    Abhishek Bharara

    • I agree Abhishek that in India, the goodness of ‘human-touch’ is still valued. To add on to your point, I’ve listed the following example-

      Kingfisher Airlines in India was the first airline to launch this unique service called of Roving Agent during 2006. Deployed outside the Security check-in area was the Kingfisher Airlines’ Roving Agent who would attend to these guests personally and book them on their choice of seats. Specially trained Roving Agents would reach out to guests and check them in using a mobile digital device and printer.

      As you can see, the pain point was addressed with a simple solution then. Now a global traveler is well prepared and is more open to the technological transformation and automation. It will only benefit them, if we can provide them with a complete self-checkin and baggage drop service.

      Would be happy to take this discussion forward with you.

      Regards,
      Taniya

  • Chris

    Hi Taniya
    Interesting post, and enjoyed reading it.
    Here at Amadeus IT group we also have the similar initiative that we feel resonate with this post.
    Please allow us to share with you below:

    http://www.amadeus.com/blog/16/01/does-the-passenger-really-want-more-self-service-we-think-so/

    http://www.amadeus.com/blog/16/08/innovation-engagement-and-collaboration-will-propel-the-new-airport-ecosystem/

    Regards
    Chris

    • Thank you Chris for imparting more knowledge on the same subject.
      It helps in supporting the thought-process and the ultimate speedy self-service objective.These articles have further broadened the scope and experiential impact of airport services for a traveler.
      Amadeus IT group seems to be making IATA’s fast-track goal into a reality.

      Best wishes,
      Taniya