A brilliantly fun solution to the problem of “lost items” at Schiphol Airport. Short video on YouTube.
Resolving the data ownership and sharing issues is necessary… to support the future passenger experience… to realize efficiency in processing … to foster successful retail engagement. As an industry, we should look towards developing global aviation data standards and a distributed, cloud based delivery infrastructure.
The “Airport Terminal of the Future” has been an important topic of discussion at aviation industry conferences in the last few years. Most recently, there has been a convergence of ideas regarding what the future passenger experience will be like. This convergence of stakeholder viewpoints can be attributed to several key trends, including:
- The maturation and accessibility of technologies.
- A shared need to reduce the cost and time associated with processing passengers through terminal buildings.
- A growth in the number of passengers travelling by air each year.
In this talk (AviationIT, London), I present an example of what the future passenger experience will look like. The example represents a consolidation of industry perspectives and research in the field. (PDF slides: AviationIT-AnnaHarrisonBLOG)
By looking at the problem of future travel from the perspective of an instantiated example, two of the key data integration components that need to be addressed before the vision of seamless travel can become a reality come to light:
- Data formatting, and
- Data ownership.
Resolving both formatting and data sharing issues is necessary in order to integrate data from various underlying data sources. This in turn is critical to providing the seamless future travel experience.
Today, just about every airport has as their mandate to be the “best”. But what does this actually mean? Does it even make sense for every passenger terminal to strive to be shinier, bigger, faster and offer more retail opportunities than the next?
In the race to be the best, airport terminals are slowly developing a case of “terminal schizophrenia”. In this state confusion, terminal buildings are trying to be everything to everyone… and instead risk being not enough to too many. Take, for example, the concurrent strategies of retail expansion and automation:
“The trend towards automation and streamlining the core passenger journey is reducing pre-departure time requirements, and therefore potentially cutting passenger spend in the airport… passengers say they will be willing to spend even more time and money in the airport if airports can provide inspiring leisure options and a competitive, enticing retail offering.”
Reinventing the Airport Ecosystem, Amadeus
These strategies suggest that the terminal be designed for passengers to spend less time in the building (automation), while necessitating that they spend more time in the building (retail expansion). These inconsistent goals often result in confusion, as is exemplified in many terminals right now: like me, you have probably disembarked from a long flight, feeling like nothing but a shower but instead being directed to enjoy an “ambient shopping experience”. Naturally, there is a place and time for this design strategy, however, it is not applicable in all airport situations. Just like passengers, airport terminals have distinct personalities.
Passenger Terminal Personality Types
- The In & Out Commuter Terminal. The In & Out terminal services commuters primarily travelling on short-haul flights. The passengers at these airports travel with little, or no, checked baggage and are usually not accompanied by wavers (non-travelling companions). Passengers travelling from an In & Out terminal suffer mild consequences if they miss their flight as another one is likely to depart in an hour or so. The In & Out terminal sees passengers at their freshest. For these terminals, speed is a primary focus: IATA’s vision of fast travel is most realizable at an In & Out terminal, as are various self-service automation solutions. Other than “grab and go” style eateries, shopping is generally misplaced at the In & Out terminal.
- The Long Haul O&D Terminal. The Long Haul Origin and Destination terminal sees off and welcomes passengers travelling on longer haul flights (7hours+). Most international flights from Australia fall into this category. Passengers usually have checked-baggage, and are more anxious about missing their flight, as there may not be another for a day or longer. The Long Haul O&D terminal sees passengers at their most anxious and exhausted. For these terminals, speed is not as critical as for the In & Out terminal as passengers generally allocate longer airport dwell times (the risk of missing an outbound flight from Australia has much more severe consequences than missing a flight between London and Paris, for example). Friendly service and sit down food outlets have a higher priority at these terminals, both due to longer flight times and the presence of wavers. For logistical reasons, extended shopping facilities are also misplaced at this terminal, as passengers will need to carry anything they purchase during the remainder of their flight, which may include a transfer at another airport terminal.
- The Transfer Super-Terminal. The transfer super terminal is the blingy brother: water slides, amusement parks, shopping malls, rainforest experiences… these belong in the Transfer Super-Terminal. This terminal sees a captive audience of bored passengers looking for ways to fill time. Passengers are not accompanied by wavers, and usually have multiple hours between flights. Services that alleviate boredom and exhaustion (showers, massages, pedicures) and various entertainment options (music, movies, swimming pools) are best placed at these terminals*. Shopping serves as an interesting distraction, the major obstacle to converting browsing to spend being the inconvenience of carrying purchases on board and onwards at the destination airport. This of course could be resolved by providing gate-check in facilities for shopping, however, I have not seen this offered in a hub terminal to date. The main challenge for the Super terminals lies in managing the wayfinding issues as terminals become physically monstrous in size.
- The City Life Terminal. The City Life terminal is both an airport and a major transport hub for the city. Busses, trains, and other modes of transport are all co-located at the City Life terminal, making the terminal a place that is frequented by both air-travellers and local commuters. This type of terminal generally exists in European cities, as these tend to have the most well developed pubic transport infrastructures. As the City Life terminal services commuters and air-passengers, the provision of extensive landside “shopping mall” facilities is a natural choice. The challenge for these terminals is to manage the landside/airside split for passengers: as most of the attractions are located landside, and there is a higher chance that travellers are accompanied by wavers, there is motivation for passengers to spend most of their time landside. Automation and fast processing is therefore important for the City Life terminal.
Thinking of passenger terminals in terms of their distinct personalities may lead to healthier, less confused buildings… and ultimately, happier and more satisfied passengers.
* Changi Virgins series of videos on YouTube provides a comedic take on the facilities on offer at many Super Terminals.
by Andrew Cave | firstname.lastname@example.org
There is beauty when something works and it works intuitively
— Jonathan Ive
Of the wide range of factors that influence a passenger’s time in the airport terminal, a key consideration is the passenger’s experience with wayfinding. As a departing passenger, the overriding focus is to get to the correct boarding gate on time. This is crucial not only for passengers, but also for the airport and airlines.
The composition of the modern airport terminal doesn’t always make passenger wayfinding easy. Passengers are tasked with the overhead of finding check-in, security and customs, and subsequently finding their way through retail areas and get to the correct boarding gate before their flight departs. The effect of passengers who are unable to find their boarding gate on time affects not only the airline and airport that they may have wayfinding issues in, but also other airports downstream.
Wayfinding is complicated, with passengers of varying levels of prior airport experience and wayfinding ability, and multiple environmental elements within the airport that can assist, or confuse passengers. For airports, installing and maintaining signs and other wayfinding systems in not cheap, nor is it a small undertaking. Heathrow estimates it would cost approximately 10 million pound to upgrade wayfinding within the airport. Wayfinding upgrades Dubai airport required changing over 1500 signs. Surprisingly, the projects are undertaken with relatively limited knowledge available about what enables effective wayfinding.
Previous research on how passengers navigate has been largely based on studies which use surveys or questionnaires. With new technology, it has become possible to capture the passenger navigation experience in more detail than ever before. In research currently under way at the PAS Lab, we are using state of the art eye-tracking technology to investigate how passengers navigate through the airport. The project is focussed on analysing the eye tracking footage and talk-aloud protocols from 44 passengers using the departures section of two Australian International Terminals.
Through the use of Tobii eye tracking, we have been able to discover that passengers with high levels of airport experience navigate more intuitively (making fast, correct and semi or non-conscious decisions) than unfamiliar passengers. Those with little previous airport experience, or who have never flown internationally before, often had to spend time searching for what to do, and where to go.
With increasing numbers of inexperienced passengers, particularly as developing countries increase in wealth, airports will need to ensure that they enable passengers to use the airport easily and efficiently. We now have the methods and technology to analyse how people navigate through the airport, and ways to identify how to improve the wayfinding experience. Future airports have the potential to go from providing adequate wayfinding to ‘insanely great’ wayfinding.
Source: thanks to Andrew Cave for this post. Andrew is the key researcher on the Tobii wayfinding project at PAS Lab. Further reading about the project can be found at Passenger Familiarity and Intuitive Navigation within Airport Enviornments.
The form of the passenger terminal building is shaped by many influences. Available real estate, budgetary constraints and the size of aircraft servicing the terminal all contribute to the eventual geometrical layout of the building. In addition to these factors, the physical architecture of the terminal building is also heavily constrained, or influenced, by the business logic surrounding passenger processing. These logical/business processes are directly reflected in the layout of the terminal building. An excellent example of this can be found in the stairwells of Zurich International Airport (ZRH).
Following Switzerland joining the Schengen countries in 2009, ZRH underwent a major expansion and refurbishment project. A key focus of the project was to make accommodations for the processing of Schengen and non-Schengen passengers.
Passengers arriving at ZRH may have begun their trip in either a Schengen or a non-Schengen country. On deplaning at ZRH, passengers could be terminating in Zurich (Schengen), or transiting to another airport (either Schengen or a non-Schengen). Of the transit passengers, those travelling to a “One Stop Security” (OSS) destination need not have the in-transit security check.
Logically, this gives rise to five possible scenarios for processing arriving passengers, namely (Figure 1):
- Schengen to Schengen
- Schengen to non-Schengen
- Non-Schengen to Schengen
- Non-Schengen to non-Schengen (OSS)
- Non-Schengen to non-Schengen (non-OSS)
Each of the above processing scenarios is associated with different immigration (visa) and security requirements. Hence, the arrivals process would differ depending on which of the above scenarios held for a given passenger, i.e.:
- Schengen to Schengen: no visa or additional security check required.
- Schengen to non-Schengen: visa check required, no additional security check required.
- Non-Schengen to Schengen: visa check and additional security check required.
- Non-Schengen to non-Schengen (OSS): no visa check and no additional security check required.
- Non-Schengen to non-Schengen (non-OSS): no visa check but additional security check required.
In order to facilitate the correct routing of passengers arriving at ZRH, the airport commissioned the construction of specialized stairwells linking the skybridge to the terminal building. The stairwells are equipped with physical switches to route arriving passengers down the correct processing path (marked as “doors” in the figure above. For example, passengers arriving from Schengen countries and terminating their trip at ZRH (scenario one above) would proceed down the path which had the immigration pathway closed (as not required) as well as the additional security pathway closed (again, as not required).
The elaborate design, construction and operation of these stairwells mirrors the complexity associated with the underlying processing logic. It follows therefore, that any simplification of this logic would likely result in a direct simplification (and thus cost reduction) associated with the architecture of the corresponding physical structures.
Source: sincere thanks to Pawel Kolatorski, formerly of Zurich International Airport, for his collaboration and insights.
This week, I rediscovered the joys of being a tourist in a foreign land. For a few glorious days, my senses were overwhelmed with the sights, sounds, flavors and curiosities of Osaka. As I reflected on my adventures in the city with colleagues from KIX, I had a private “Eureka” moment… let’s call it The Osaka Experience.
For the last several years, I have been immersed in researching passenger experience at airports. However, my experience in Osaka reminded me of a key ingredient in the passenger experience equation that is overlooked when the lens is narrowly focused on the airport: the reason why passengers travel. Examining the psychology of the traveller outside the terminal building can be leveraged to improve their experience within the terminal. More specifically, it can be the key to influencing the expectations of future travellers – which in turn, affects satisfaction and the bottom line.
Let’s take the case of the holiday or vacation traveller. Passengers go on holidays to collect experiences. The recollection of these shared experiences lives on past the actual holiday itself, and continues to influence the experience of future travellers. Now, we know from studies of human behavior that human memory is fallible, prone to remembering only the beginning, the ending, and the highlights in between.
As passengers begin and end their travel in an airport terminal building, there is a very good chance that this is the part of their trip that they will readily recall. We know that the parts of a passenger’s vacation that are remembered indirectly shape the expectations of many future travellers through direct (word of mouth) and indirect (social media) channels.
The outbound passenger who has just finished their vacation is likely to be bursting with anecdotes and photos from their trip that they could share while waiting (bored) in the departures hall. Why not help them share their stories? Imagine an interactive giant digital wall displaying these photos and anecdotes. This would create instant engagement for the passengers waiting to board their flight, and build a repository of social capital for future travellers.
In effect, the departure hall would become the training ground for the airport’s army of social champions. Additionally, by reinforcing the highlights of the trip in the departing passenger’s thoughts, the seed for a return visit would be quietly planted.
Sources: a big “Arigato” to my wonderful hosts in Osaka – Goto-san and the team from KIX and Ando-san from All Star Osaka Walk. A special thank you to Murata-san, my generous and tireless host in Kyoto.
Despite a century of developments in terminal construction, there are as yet no universally accepted principles which can be used to confidently guide terminal design for passenger experience… The satisfaction, or lack thereof, that a passenger experiences in the airport is directly related to what their expectations are. It follows that if we can understand passenger expectations, we can tailor the terminal design to meet their needs, and in turn, increase their satisfaction.
excerpt from Experience design principles: Reduce the fear, own the passenger, Passenger Terminal Today (August 2013)