Airport environments are inherently complex, but this complexity doesn’t need to take away from the passenger experience. In fact, it shouldn’t: airports and airlines are now competing more and more heavily on the basis of the passenger experience, giving airport operators more incentive to make the passenger journey comfortable and predictable.
It turns out, the queuing experience can play an important role in improving the passenger experience at key points in the journey such as check in, security, and terminal activities.
It also turns out that the outcome of passenger satisfaction cannot be easily dismissed. According to a JD Edwards study, passengers who are "delighted" with their airport experience spend an average of 45 percent more than do "disappointed" passengers, suggesting that efforts to elevate the passenger journey can prove a worthwhile investment.
What are some key ways to optimize the passenger experience with your queue management strategy? Here are four:
Nowhere is the importance of queue management more obvious than in Transportation Safety Administration (TSA)-managed security checkpoints, especially in airports that were designed before security checks were required. The TSA has implemented various solutions to alleviate long wait times during security screenings with programs such as its PreCheck and Global Entry programs, but these still accommodate only a small percentage of the flying public. For the vast majority of passengers, the essential security check is the longest, most frustrating queue in the entire journey.
The security check cannot be avoided, but resources devoted to facilitating the process can be managed if there is adequate information about passenger wait time and the ebb and flow of traffic. Among other solutions, real-time and historical data collected by footfall analytics allows you to recognize trends, anticipate staffing needs, and address issues in real time.
Airlines use a number of different methods to sort passengers by boarding priority. These processes should be clear and reinforced through your queue management strategy. One way to achieve this it through gate signage customized to your brand and your unique boarding process. A well-designed signage system makes it easier for passengers to identify where they should line up and reduces the chaos, confusion, and frustration of boarding queues.
With well-managed, efficient queues comes more free time for passengers to enjoy dining, shopping, or simply relaxing at the gate before boarding their flights. Time spent on the other side of the security checkpoint tends to be more enjoyable for passengers with the added benefit of satisfied passengers spending more money in the airport.
Known wait times feel shorter than unknown waits and the knowing helps reduce stress among passengers. While it may feel counterproductive to tell passengers that they’re going to be waiting quite a while, the psychology of queuing has shown that people are happier knowing what kind of wait is ahead. A simple visual display powered by an intelligent queue management system can be a powerful and realistic indicator of time spent waiting for a traveler who might otherwise find their time in line excruciating and unending.
Publishing wait times throughout the facility gives passengers a sense of freedom. Knowing that it will take X amount of time to get through security, passengers can decide how to spend their precious minutes. They are in control of their time, and passenger satisfaction increases because of it.
With so many applications for queue management in airports, it pays to have some solid advice.
That’s why we are pleased announce our latest resource for airport and airline managers. In The Essential Guide to Optimizing the Passenger Journey you will discover 17 key ways to influence the passenger journey, including managing queues, empowering service agents, and optimizing passenger flow. Get your free copy here.