The waiting game
Want to enjoy an easy, relaxed airport experience? It’s all about waiting, writes Christian Carstens, marketing manager at Veovo, BlipTrack.
Waiting in line seems to be one of life’s inevitabilities, but what if there was a way to make airport queues move faster and keep the experience more pleasant for those in line? It all comes down to understanding why queuing is so painful, and then doing something about it.
No matter how carefully you have planned your business trip or vacation, from arriving early to check in, to paying that little extra for priority boarding, you can’t do anything about bottlenecks, delayed flights or other hold-ups.
Long lines are nothing new, of course, but over the last twenty years, things have grown much more pressurised. With more security checks worldwide following 9-11, growth in passenger and flight numbers each year, and limited space to expand their existing infrastructure, modern airports frequently have to contend with lengthy queues of tired, frustrated people.
Airports need to make sure there’s enough staff at various checkpoints, gauge the flow and number of people through the processes and concessions, preferably in real time, and deal with unforeseen events, like delays or serious weather conditions.
And they need to keep passengers informed about waiting times, as the simple fact is that waiting in line with little to no information and no clear understanding of what’s going on can make people frustrated, angry and stressed.
Indeed, with a lack of accurate information, people don’t know how long they can be expected to wait, and frustration levels immediately rise. Add in today’s expectations of speedy services based on living in an era of instant news, same-day deliveries, and 24-hour service centres, and impatience comes into the mix. People are less patient and tend to complain sooner and more frequently than ever before.
Fortunately, research has shown two very interesting conclusions. Firstly, by providing some form of distraction, airports can help reduce boredom. Secondly, by providing accurate, up-to-date wait-time information, they help travellers feel more in control, thanks to clear expectations.
One of the major stumbling blocks to providing accurate wait-time information is how to gather it accurately. By relying on CCTV cameras and a live monitor to try and accurately gauge where bottlenecks could happen, or where staff are needed to help speed things up, airports are working reactively.
Bottlenecks are only dealt with once they happen, rather than before they happen. At the same time, they can’t give reliable information about wait times.
New technology, however, is taking the guesswork out of airport operations. And all it takes is some strategically placed sensors and the ever-present mobile device.
In contrast to the traditional cameras and human monitors used to gather data, mobile device-detecting sensors allow for real-time, seamless measurement of people flow. When using these methods, management can see, at a glance, where bottlenecks could occur, allowing them to quickly allocate staff to areas where they are needed.
Adopting the tech
Fortunately for today’s traveller, a SITA survey shows that to date, 42% of airports have invested in queue monitoring technology to give them a clear view of wait times at various pinch points.
Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) in the US, for example, has implemented a BlipTrack solution to help travellers get a realistic view of TSA and immigration queue times and the result has been a dramatic decline in passenger complaints.
“Much of our interest in the public display of wait times was to dispel perception from reality. As the adage goes, ask five people what their actual wait time was, and you’ll get five different answers. Following deployment, complaints are now rare, as the passenger immediately understands the present situation and adapts,” says Brian Cobb, vice president of customer experience at CVG.
Not only has CVG reduced wait-time complaints, but they’ve also been able to use the collected data to recommend TSA staffing adjustments, resulting in a reduction in processing times by one-third.
Auckland International Airport has taken the benefits of the technology a step further by collaborating with road authorities. There, besides wait-time information at pinch-point processes, travellers now also get travel time information on the road to and from the airport.
Several other airports have followed suit, and have almost universally experienced a reduction in queue times, as well as complaints.
The next time you travel by air, take the time to look around and see whether the airport you are in has invested in wait time displays to make your journey smoother, more efficient, and stress-free.
Rapiscan secures major Australian deal
OSI Systems, Inc has announced that its Rapiscan RTT110 CT inspection system has been selected by the Australian government to identify contraband biosecurity materials entering the country inside passenger baggage, mail and cargo.
The Australian government is expected to implement the company’s detection technology as part of its security initiative to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of biosecurity operations both prior to and at the border.
“Since its initial introduction to the market, the RTT 110 has been successful in detecting explosives, weapons, and contraband at airports around the world,” said OSI Systems’ chairman and CEO, Deepak Chopra.
“This is the first time that the system will be used for biosecurity detection, and we are incredibly excited to demonstrate the versatility and efficiency of this unique solution as part of a comprehensive security infrastructure.”
Australia’s Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, David Littleproud, notes: “Biosecurity screening provides critical protection for Australia’s $60 billion agricultural industries and the health of our communities, environment, and the national economy.
“New technology like the RTT 110 from Rapiscan will be an integral part of preserving our unique ecosystem and creating a more seamless experience at the border.”
FLEET coming to Hong Kong
Vanderlande has signed a landmark innovation partnership agreement with Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK) to further develop and apply its future-proof baggage logistics solution – FLEET – in the real-world environment of one of the world’s busiest airports.
The joint innovation partnership will focus on applying the latest autonomous vehicle technology in the baggage handling process at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) with regards to improving quality, efficiency and flexibility.
HKIA will benefit from being able to see at close hand how autonomous vehicles can help to further improve the efficiency of the baggage handling process, enhance ergonomic working conditions for ground staff and future-proof its baggage handling operations.
AAHK’s deputy director for service delivery, Steven Yiu, says: “We are delighted to join forces on this programme that helps to realise our aspiration in being a leader in technology and innovation among international airports.”
Vanderlande’s executive vice president for airports and member of the board, Andrew Manship, says: “Ultimately, our aim is to enhance the passenger experience, while improving efficiency and we have full confidence in FLEET’s capacity to deliver impressive results at one of the fastest-growing airports in the world.”
Rotterdam The Hague Airport (pictured above) became one of the first airports in the world to experience Vanderlande’s FLEET baggage handling solution, which uses intelligent autonomous vehicles to transport individual items of luggage instead of traditional belts and conveyors.
Location: Tullamarine, Victoria, Australia
Contact: Rico Barandun, head of strategy
Elenium is focused on developing and producing the world’s most efficient and effective automation systems for airports and airlines. Our suite of Check-in Kiosks, Automated Bag Drop and Self Boarding Gates have been designed to significantly increase the flow of passengers through the airport. Our bag drop can process a passenger’s luggage in as little as three seconds. Our goal is to make the airline passenger experience seamless using technologies such as cloud, artificial intelligence, computer vision and natural human interfacing while providing products that are simple to use and understand.
Contact: Jeremy Norton, vice president, sales, Asia-Pacific
Rapiscan Systems is a leading global provider of security inspection solutions, with more than 100,000 products installed in over 170 countries. Rapiscan Systems has an extensive portfolio of baggage and parcel inspection, cargo and vehicle inspection, hold baggage screening, people screening, trace detection, radiation detection, tray return system and enhanced security solutions, which are supported by a global service network. The company’s state-of-the-art products, solutions and services operate in the world’s most demanding security environments, including at airports, border crossings, railway stations, seaports, government and military installations.