#IHateTheWait: How Airports Can Avoid Negative Social Media Coverage

September 15, 2016 Shaun McDougall

Passengers venting their frustration on social media

One area of the airport terminal operation that regularly generates negative media coverage is long waiting times at security or border control, particularly during holiday travel seasons. With passengers venting their frustration on social media, the viral hashtag #IHateTheWait has been trending on Twitter and it is evident that passenger experience in many airports is at crisis point.

Working with airports on a daily basis, we have empathy for those operations that were called out by frustrated passengers. Clearly, they didn’t set out to deliver a poor passenger experience and possibly the root cause of the long lines were out of their direct control. 

But if airports take a more proactive approach to managing the passenger process, they might be in a better position to adjust their resources to deal with the many incidents that can make their plan redundant.

As the old adage goes, you can’t manage what you can’t measure. Gaining information on passenger throughput in your airport can prove to be vital– not only for reducing waiting times but for understanding how time is spent in your airport.

If you can identify when waiting times will peak at security as events unfold across the day, you will have the opportunity to liaise with your security staff and see if it’s possible to deploy more staff to meet the demand. The knock on effect of this means that feelings of anxiety and stress in passengers are reduced, time spent in retail areas is increased and flights depart on time.

It is forecast that there will be 50% more flights by 2035, which means that it is even more important for airports to maximize their existing resources and put passenger experience at the forefront of their concerns. Airports need to be more competitive in their bid to be attractive to passengers, to develop new routes, and to expand retail income.

In order to combat these issues and optimize terminal operations, Leidos has integrated a range of wait-time and passenger measurement technologies to a number of major international airports. For example, our technology at Cincinnati/North Kentucky Airport (CVG) has illustrated the positive outcomes of such technologies.

As you can see from the above video, CVG uses Bliptrack technology to anonymously and unobtrusively track passengers wifi/Bluetooth mobile devices to identify wait times at TSA checkpoints. Importantly, CVG makes this information available to the travelling public via display screens throughout the terminal as well as on the airport’s website so that passengers are equipped with the latest information to reduce stress and ultimately enhance their experience and satisfaction.

And from an operational perspective, the measurement technology allows CVG to be proactive when managing unexpected peaks in passenger traffic and wait times and it enables staff to accurately resource plan to either prevent or better manage long lines.

Since the system was deployed in 2011, CVG have observed a reduction of 4 ¼ minutes on average queue times across both their pre-clearance and standard screening areas. Now that’s something to tweet about


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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