I Want It Now! Are Airports Meeting Passenger Expectations?

May 5, 2016 Shaun McDougall

Passenger walking through an airport terminal

Times are constantly changing – and so is the way in which passengers’ feed back their dissatisfaction to airports and airlines. No longer is writing a letter to complain about a service or the length of time waiting in a queue common practice – passengers are now voicing their opinions on social media which can reach millions within a click of a button. Customer service is now a real-time issue.

Smartphone usage is skyrocketing, and social media engagement is only going to become more widespread. It all means that airports are even more motivated (if any more motivation was required) to meet passenger expectations or risk the wrath of the social media backlash.

Today’s connected passenger expects information at their fingertips, putting pressure on airports to deliver real-time information. Airports that have the ability to share the process and wait time information to passengers can instantly remove the fear and uncertainty associated with travelling through check-in, security or transfer.

Having been involved in the terminal optimization field for a number of years I’ve witnessed first-hand the evolution of queue measurement technologies. The first queue measurement solution was implemented nearly a decade ago, with Heathrow using Bluetooth to measure their security area – where LHR led, others followed. At that time, queue measurement technology was seen as a 'luxury' solution that only hub airports could afford and justify.

Today, airports of all sizes and functions regard passenger flow measurement as a fundamental requirement for process benchmarking, terminal optimization and tactical forecast planning.

According to a recent study, OAG revealed that 79% of passengers want updates on security wait times. Now airports are able to monitor, manage and plan ahead for passenger movements and capture a number of useful metrics that can help answer questions like:

  • What is the wait time at security?
  • How long was spent in the retail areas?
  • What journey does my passenger take travelling from the kerb to the gate?

While using queue measurement technologies at security areas is increasingly common, the benefits of extending the measurement area beyond security are vast. Collecting data across the entire airport process enables operators to optimize terminal processes, pro-actively manage pinch-points and improve customer service.

With a wide variety of technology sensors, the solutions opportunities are endless. However, one thing is clear, there is no 'one size fits all' solution when measuring passenger processes. Experience shows that one technology is sufficient for measuring a point to point process, for extended kerb to gate solutions a multi-sensor eco-system is best.

Since we released our Embracing Technology Whitepaper in 2013, it has been downloaded more than 3,000 times. To find out more about the queue and passenger flow measurement technologies available to you, download our 'Embracing Technology Whitepaper' which has been revised to bring it up to date with the technologies available today.

Embracing technology to achieve service excellence


Shaun McDougall

Shaun is the Director of Digital Marketing & Communications at Leidos. Obsessive about gadgets, sports, technology and great family adventures.

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