How Can Airports Help Passengers Travel Again – Safely and Happily?

by Steve Swanson, CrowdVision

As people gradually begin traveling again for work and pleasure, they do so with a greater focus on caution and safety than ever before. The thought of “getting through the airport” as they travel induces feelings of stress and anxiety in many passengers. The good news, however, is that airports can be better equipped than ever before to address passenger concerns, and provide a safe, low-stress environment to encourage passengers to always think of your airport when they plan their next trip.

Airports large and small find themselves at a crucial point as they strive to adjust to rising passenger numbers while adhering to the new post-COVID “normal” of our world. As always, passengers seek a stress-free journey through the airport, through all touchpoints along the way. The only way to serve passenger needs is through efficient resource management, and the only way to achieve this is by clearly understanding the data analytics that ultimately benefit your customers, and more importantly, when and how to use the knowledge.

Acting on the right data, at the right time, is what’s needed. Here’s how to make it work for your airport.

Before they leave home, passengers have already been preoccupied in preparation for their trip for hours. Perhaps they’ve been packing the day before the trip. Maybe they had to wake up much earlier than normal and are operating on very little sleep (and hopefully a little caffeine). Good communication with passengers before their flight is vitally important. Sending updates about their flight time, and even indicating the amount of time they can expect to wait in the security checkpoint can help to alleviate quite a bit of stress as they prepare to drive or take a rideshare to the airport.

How should they feel when entering the airport? Airport operators want passengers to feel that they are welcome and important, similar to a customer entering any other business location. This feeling largely stems from the first impressions passengers have the moment they walk through the front doors and look around.

Passengers feel at ease when things look orderly and lines seem short. And if lines can’t be short during peak hours in the day, at least ticket counters and checkpoints can be appropriately staffed to keep people moving through the spaces at optimal rates. 

Here’s how quality analytics can help: Airlines and airport/TSA managers can take advantage of historical turn-up profiles to understand when to expect high and low passenger arrivals in ticketing and security checkpoint areas. This information allows them to staff up and down appropriately and keep things moving in a quick, orderly fashion, and gives passengers a sense that they are about to move friction-free through the first part of their airport journey.

As they approach the security checkpoints, digital signage showing wait times and, if appropriate, wayfinding suggestions to the queue with the lowest wait time are immensely helpful. Passengers are far more ready to have their documents handy, and even follow social distancing protocols if they feel that airport personnel are working to provide convenience.

What about after they leave security? As passengers move through security, they want to feel safe. That means good security practice, but it also means more than that. Airports should want passengers to feel that the experience was as pleasant as possible. If crucial areas in ticketing and security have been appropriately staffed, wait time predictions in apps and/or digital signage have been accurate, and people have been moving through the queues as efficiently as possible, then the airport has done everything possible to serve its passengers. This can only happen with important metrics like historical turn-up profiles and queue wait times, along with state-of-the art queue management software and sensor technology.

Passengers feel safe as they walk toward their gate when they see indicators that gates are overcrowded and social distancing is being followed. These metrics are also made available through digital signage, mobile alerts, and even different colored lighting indicators placed throughout the gate areas.

Onward to the gate – and maybe a quick coffee run: Movements around an airport can be a hectic experience for both travelers and staff. This is something many travelers have to deal with every day, but luckily, airport retail can use analytics to improve this experience. By identifying passenger movement patterns, retailers can create a more streamlined shopping experience that includes the most successful routes and popular stores—which can be shared with the entire airport via an app.

Airports rely on passenger traffic to generate revenue through retail and food purchases, but they also have a responsibility to provide a great experience while reducing congestion. Using passenger movement trend data provided by CrowdVision an airport will be able to determine the best layout for stores and food kiosks to maximize sales and minimize congestion. We process data in a number of ways to visualize crowd flow, identify bottlenecks and highlight potential issues before they occur. Such insight, coupled with the ability to use data to predict passenger numbers in a given area, is a powerful tool in the fight against crowding that can drive customer satisfaction and retail sales.

As they board their flight: Smart jet bridge sensing capabilities help airlines board passengers quickly and easily by automatically counting passengers as they enter the jet bridge, indicating to staff when to halt boarding until the bridge is ready for more passengers. This optimizes the throughput rate in the area, keeps people from crowding and waiting too long in the jet bridge area, and again, signals to passengers that all key players in the airport – airlines, TSA, and airport management – truly have their best interest in mind, and are working to provide a stress-free path through the airport, as passengers travel onward to their destination.

Anything else? Of course! Take a look at our other informative articles to get a complete idea of the ways key players in the airport can use data to their staff and passengers’ advantage.

Leave a Reply