Overcoming the ownership issue of the passenger: do they belong to the airport, airline or both?

25 January, 2018

Customers of airlines and airports are subjected to an impersonal and chaotic, one-size-fits-all service with the commercial impact of stressed passengers a reduction in their likelihood to spend in the airport environment, a study from the industrial software and hardware systems developers, Human Recognition Systems highlights.

The 'A holistic approach to a seamless passenger experience' report says the integration of airline and airport data through passenger automation technology "is imperative to markedly improve the situation" with the aviation sector a "step change behind" the service industry which is moving quickly to personalise every step of the process.

In order to react to the challenge of processing growing passenger numbers through the existing airport infrastructure, the aviation industry requires "significant change, "according to Simon Meyer, managing director of aviation solutions at Human Recognition Systems and author of the report.

"Despite passengers being the main reason for the existence of airports, most have come to expect long queues, delays and, more often than not, a stressful experience at the airport," he explains.

In addition, with a backdrop of enhanced security requirements, unpleasant passenger experiences are on the increase. "Lack of information provided by the airport can make the passenger feel like a pawn in a giant game of chess between the airport and the airline," adds Mr Meyer.

To improve the passenger experience, communication between airport, airlines and passengers will have to improve, says the report, as in this digital, hyper-connected world - described as 'The Information Age' - customers expect real-time updates. It is airports in particular that need to up their game, it highlights, as passengers increasingly seek a seamless, personalised and hassle-free travel experience.

However, that age old issue of who holds the best information continues to impede developments. Airports and airlines can only directly inform them about parts of the journey. "This begs the question; does the passenger want alerts from the agent, airport and every airline they fly with?" says Mr Meyer.

The integration of airline and airport data through passenger automation technology is "imperative to markedly improve the situation," notes the report. "Data-sharing enables a holistic view of the passenger's end-to-end journey, which can be used to maximise operational efficiency through a reduction in queues and delays, and, perhaps most importantly, improve customer satisfaction - a valuable end goal for all parties," it adds.

There is now a solution to look at the situation from the passengers' perspective and adopting a new data management system that puts the passenger at the centre of the experience. With real-time information on passengers airports will be able to treat the passenger as an individual and offer a truly personalised service. In turn, this provides increased scope to enable on time departures and airports and airlines can also proactively engage with passengers through their journey.

But, there still needs to be a mindset shift to overcome the challenge over the ownership issue of the passenger during their journey and the sharing of information between airports and airlines. "Ultimately, the industry needs to re-think its current customer service strategies in line with what the passenger expects," says the Human Recognition Systems report.

For the industry to progress, passenger data must be shared between the airline and the airport to provide in-depth insight into passenger preferences and expectations and bring the digital passenger to life," says Mr Meyer.

Ultimately, deciding to jointly own a passenger seems logical and should improve services and feedback for both parties while enhancing the customer experience. But since when did logic ever make sense in the aviation industry?