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24 Jan A balanced approach to the passenger journey

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Improving passenger experience is a hot topic in the aviation industry. Too often, though, it results in the optimisation of a singular efficiency aspect. That approach is simply too narrow to improve overall passenger satisfaction. A balanced approach between efficiency and experience that considers the entire passenger journey is a more effective way to ensure a more pleasant experience and better efficiency.

Understanding their journeys and continuing to offer different options is the key

Passenger experience is a journey

Improving the passenger experience has received considerable attention lately. That is unsurprising, as keeping passengers satisfied makes good business sense. However, the real passenger experience goes beyond simple satisfaction, and it especially goes far beyond satisfaction with any single efficient process. The passenger journey is the chain of processes that an individual passenger goes through.

That journey is obviously quite different for different types of passengers. The activities, not to mention the psychological state of mind, that a business passenger goes through to get from home or the office to catch a flight to a business meeting will be a completely different experience to that of a family of four going on vacation.

Some experiences are easier than others

Improving the passenger experience at an airport, then, means considering their entire journey from beginning to end. It also requires collaboration between the airport operator and other service providers such as ground handling, security and immigration.

The biggest improvements in passenger satisfaction (pdf) with the airport experience have been for the check-in process, with a slight increase for the security process, as well. Satisfaction with border control and immigration has declined. Using machines instead of people to speed up the immigration process is, however, not (yet) the answer. High rejection rates at some electronic immigration gates requires border staff to remain efficient and customer-oriented.

Finding the balance

How can airports achieve a balance between the technical aspects of an efficient experience and the emotional aspects of the passenger journey? The answer lies in differentiation: providing different experiences for different types of passengers.

The three design elements of spatial planning, helpful signage and physiological ambiance are a good place to consider both efficiency and emotion. Clear directions help passengers who are in a rush quickly see where to go, as well as keeping flustered passengers from feeling even more lost. Personal check-ins for premium customers who dislike using self-service machines is another example.

Fast-track security lanes for single-bag travellers are another good example. Business travellers can speed through without having to wait for families dealing with additional LAGS testing and rejected trays. Removing the impatient single-bag traveller also reduces pressure on the families. Regulations remain the same for both types of lanes, but the passenger experience is vastly different.

Differentiating the approach to passengers will be vital to improving the passenger experience. Understanding their journeys and continuing to offer different options is the key.

About To70. To70 is one of the world’s leading aviation consultancies, founded in the Netherlands with offices in Europe, Australia, Asia, and Latin America. To70 believes that society’s growing demand for transport and mobility can be met in a safe, efficient, environmentally friendly and economically viable manner. To achieve this, policy and business decisions have to be based on objective information. With our diverse team of specialists and generalists to70 provides pragmatic solutions and expert advice, based on high-quality data-driven analyses. For more information, please refer to www.to70.com.

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Karin Elbers
Karin Elbers
With a passion for logistics and aviation I find ground handling processes intriguing, and like to achieve results in a team. As an aviation consultant I have gained experience in safety studies, airspace design and A-CDM.
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