The impact of COVID-19 has forced airports to accelerate the digitization of passenger travel to meet their new expectations.
In 2019, the ACI World’s Airport Service Quality program reported that the most important drivers of customer satisfaction were the airport environment, food and beverage, retail areas, entertainment activities such as Wi-Fi and security processes. To this day – passengers want to see less crowding, more hygiene measures, and non-contact “touch points.”
The impact of COVID-19 has forced airports to accelerate the digitization of passenger travel to meet their new expectations. Old processes will need to be fine-tuned and new ones applied to make passengers feel comfortable again. To achieve this goal, Amadeus has worked with airports around the world to apply new technology solutions that improve the overall passenger experience and rebuild traveler confidence.
touchless boarding experience I think we can all agree that COVID-19 has accelerated the need for technology that promotes a no-touch or little-touch experience. Not long ago, Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport (FLL) and Amadeus began the process of implementing biometric boarding on all international departures as required by the United States Customs and Border Protection Exit Program. COVID-19 happened, and it sped up the timeline to carry out the solution as recently announced, with Spirit Airlines being the first airline to go live with the solution.
Amadeus biometric solutions use facial recognition technology that eliminates the need to scan a boarding pass, show a passport, and unnecessary long lines for this purpose. Once the passenger is ready to board the flight, their face is captured and subsequently compared to the passenger’s reservation. The traveler’s identity and information are automatically entered into the airline’s departure control system (DCS) to provide a contactless boarding experience.
Improving the traveler’s journey
These advancements, such as biometric boarding, are a major step forward in improving the journey and passenger experience, especially as airports prepare for traffic growth. Congestion had been a major concern at most airports even before COVID-19.
It was common to find long lines at the counter, in the boarding areas and at security checkpoints. Even when the journey began, it could be difficult to avoid crowds unless airports deployed a passenger management system and process.
When Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) built their new airport, they contracted with Amadeus to supply them with various IT solutions. A key part of the project was the installation of technological platforms that better manage passenger travel with short lines and waiting times. And not only streamline pedestrian traffic, but also the operational efficiency of airlines entering and leaving the airport.
As the airport manages the current ebb and flow of traffic, Amadeus and SLC are also thinking about how the airport can adapt to future demand. With Amadeus solutions such as the Airport Operational Database (AODB), Resource Management System (RMS), Flight Information Display System (FIDS), common-use boarding and self-service kiosks , the airport can anticipate the needs of customers and the industry as more and more people start to travel again. For example, technology for shared use of check-in counters and gates will allow the airport to rent gates and ticket counters from airlines, providing SLC with a green and sustainable approach to growth.
Accelerate the billing process
A large part of the passenger journey will include the evolution of the check-in process. As we move toward more self-service, the billing experience will continue to be at the forefront of change. ICM Airport Technics, an Amadeus company, provided new self-check-in kiosks to Nashville International Airport, allowing passengers to manage their own check-in process. Passengers can print their boarding passes and luggage tags, thus reducing face-to-face interaction and avoiding queues. In the future, these kiosks may be enhanced by Amadeus to provide contactless services as well as biometric features. Passengers could then use their mobile devices as a ‘trackpad’
There is no doubt that the events of 2020 have lowered the confidence of travelers. But, in adversity there is invention, and I am encouraged by the drive of airports to reimagine passenger travel and restore faith in travel. We may have a long road ahead of us, but there is no doubt that recovery will require agility, innovation and collaboration. Each traveler must do their part to help people feel safe to start traveling again. Despite so many unknowns, we have seen airport operators around the world rise to the challenge of delivering a seamless experience to their customers.