Passenger Experience

Pax Activities: What do they do in your airport?


This content originally appeared in the Airports of the Future newsletter: Are Your Passengers Satisfied?

The passenger experience is a critical aspect of airport business. When passengers have a good experience it influences their future travel plans and creates a sense of trust. On the other hand, passengers who have a negative experience form not only a negative association for the airport, but associations that have been demonstrated to have a flow on negative association with a city or country, with down-stream economic implications.

Most research about people’s experiences in airports has focused on passenger facilitation, processing and technology. However, two-thirds of passenger time in the airport involves non-processing, or discretionary, periods.

At the People and Systems Lab, our researchers are looking at these often overlooked aspects of passenger and staff activities within the airport. The basis of our research is close observation of passengers and their activities. From this, we develop maps of activities that illustrate the relationships between people, process and technology. By examining the maps of interaction, we draw conclusions about passengers’ activities and interactions.

Our descriptive models of passenger experiences provide a significantly more comprehensive understanding of passenger experience at the airport. Consequently, our recommendations are highly relevant and can have immediate impact on the airport planning and design.

As an example, we observed the activities that are undertaken by passengers within an airport environment. We discovered that as passengers begin to pre-pare for outbound processing activities before, as well as at, check in. In particular, we discovered that:

  1. Passengers with wavers make far more use of landside retail than other passengers;
  2. Passengers show ownership of things they carry with them after check-in;
  3. Passenger group activities show there is a need to provide areas for groups to assemble while waiting for other group members ;
  4. Security personnel activities at the security checking points, such as assisting passengers, affects length of time before, during and after screening process;
  5. Passengers experiences are affected not only by past experience but by that of their social group; and
  6. Passengers are encouraged to ask questions in the locations which cause queues to form prematurely, thus lengthening queue time.

Our current focus is on developing a classification of discretionary activities that not only describes passenger’s activities, but also the context(s) in which these activities occur and how they interrelate. Thus far, eight taxonomic groups have been identified, namely:

  1. Processing
  2. Preparatory
  3. Consumptive
  4. Social
  5. Entertainment
  6. Passive
  7. Queuing
  8. Moving

The next step is modeling the taxonomic groups to identify interrelations between them in order to assist airport planning and terminal design to facilitate and manage passenger experiences.

Source: the above results are extracted from the doctoral work of Philip Kirk (, and were published in Towards a taxonomy of passenger airport experience.


2 thoughts on “Pax Activities: What do they do in your airport?

  1. Pingback: Preparation prevents poor passenger experience | inplaneterms

  2. Pingback: Preparation prevents poor passenger experience | inplaneterms

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s