Roadmap to terminal experience excellence

Airports spend millions on implementing new screening technology to make the passenger terminal processing flow faster and as painless as possible. Unfortunately, poor customer service can still completely defeat the purpose of innovations meant to improve the passenger experience. Passengers always remember bad customer service, no matter how innovative the technology is.

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Not just being nice

Security screening is one of the biggest headaches for both airports and passengers. For airports, easier passenger screening isn’t only about efficient terminal operations, or about just being nice. Positive experiences lead to higher revenues – happy passengers are willing to spend more money in the airport terminal.

Technology such as biometrics isn’t advanced enough yet to replace airport terminal staff entirely, and the jury is still out on whether that is even desirable. Until then, instead of simply throwing money at screening systems and expecting them to improve the passenger experience, airport operators must find ways to balance technology with customer-friendly people and processes.

Passengers want it all

For example, passengers complaining about poor treatment by security screeners often say they are arrogant, impolite and enforce rules arbitrarily. This image of disrespect for passengers is not what any airport wants. If an airport can get the basics right, then the technology can do its work.

Those basics include:

  • General process improvements to shave time off touchpoints
  • Staff engaged in delivering service excellence
  • Incentivising customer care


Providing great passenger experiences is not a quick fix or a one-off project. It is a journey that requires repetition and refreshing over time. Airport terminal staff should have service in their DNA, so hiring the right people first is important. Then, a comprehensive service vision can guide everyone toward excellent customer care.

Like technology, intensive service training is an investment. It can take time before the airport sees the return. Having a clear roadmap to where you want to go, then incentivising service excellence with mystery shoppers and KPIs to start gaining speed, will make the process easier.

Envisioning the roadmap

It is important that the strategy is embraced by everyone from senior management to operational staff. A visible commitment from airport terminal staff will quickly reflect in the quality of the passenger experience. The motivation for all of this is enhanced when operational staff also contribute to defining the strategy and related KPIs.

At To70, we often start these change management processes by defining an ideal customer experience vision together with the airport operator and terminal stakeholders. Gaps between the vision and the current situation become clear. Then, we can draw out a roadmap that balances the three basics of process improvement, staff engagement and customer service.

Part of creating the vision for staff engagement and customer service is exploring the client’s core values and how to get there together. We recently teamed up with security provider I-SEC to provide training, workshops and coaching based on their passenger-focused approach to security screening. Combining high-quality security technology with expert knowledge of the passenger journey is proving to be an effective way of creating truly positive customer experiences.


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

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