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How will the passenger experience and processes through the airport be impacted by changes in the industry, now and in the future?

Businesses need to be equipped with the tools to develop and integrate innovative, sustainable and inclusive solutions for their passengers. There is a need to assess the experience holistically and develop strategy that will support:

An inclusive passenger experience placed at the heart of design without compromising process efficiencies.

Ambitious environmental and sustainability objectives built into the passenger journey. The development of flexible terminal buildings that harness commercial opportunities.

The Passenger Journey contains a sequence of steps and processes as the baseline of the user experience. By understanding these, businesses can evaluate the passenger experiences and their choices to develop a roadmap for how the processes will evolve to deliver sustainable outcomes.

Developments in passenger facing operations must first and always consider the impact on every user’s experience, bringing innovative solutions on board whilst guaranteeing sustainable economic operations.


Current challenges and opportunities

We are in the midst of defining a new normal for passengers resurgence of air travel and removal of social distancing measures. This will be the key step in developing how future passengers see their journey as a whole. Here we focus less on operational measures, which will depend on the advancement of technology and regulations, and more on the outcomes for airports to position themselves positively in the market.

As the industry continues to pick up and passenger numbers return, the market is responding differently to how it was before. How passengers make decisions is taking into not consideration a wider set of parameters.

Greater pressure is placed on the aviation industry to come back greener and with an improved passenger experience.

Already a pressing issue, climate change will place pressure on governments and industries to transform quicker. It is important that operations and capital investment programs progress in line with a convincing, effective environmental strategy.

Effort should be made to invest in innovative travel solutions that offer onward transport options integrated within the wider transport network.

We will see increased electrification of private vehicles and bus fleets. There will continue to be market competition offering customisation of the passenger journey, such as off airport baggage management, personal infotainment and online retail retracting from on airport offers.

Airports need to take note of changing passenger behaviours: Autonomy, personalisation and seamless, digitally enabled connectivity are becoming bottom line expectations that should influence how airports structure service provision.

Development of technology for passenger processes will change how airport areas are configured and the and the passenger throughput required to transition through the journey.


How can we improve the current passenger experience?

  • Increase the number of onward travel solutions through an integrated transport network.
  • Diversify the economy offer so that the departure lounge provides a variety of waiting scenarios for flyers.
  • Diversifying away from retail to offer an airport waiting experience, to increase the airport revenue and improve comfort, health, and mental well-being. There is evidence that relaxed and satisfied passengers are willing to spend more money.


Long-term challenges and opportunities

The future of aviation holds compelling opportunities for a sustainable form of global and domestic air travel. The passenger experience will be personalised, having a positive impact on wellbeing.

Travel to the airport will be facilitated by CAVs, air taxis and improved public transport networks; the airport will become a truly integrated mixed use ‘hub’ within a travel network.

Changes in aircraft technology will improve air quality and reduce noise, introducing opportunities to live and work within and round the airport boundary.

Changes in technologies around security and health monitoring will allow the terminal to become a more accessible environment, enabling airports to open up to a wider customer base not limited to passengers.

Passenger anxiety will reduce, with fewer ‘pinch points’ in the journey and overall journey times will likely reduce.

Climate change will continue to play a key part in the development of the aviation industry well into the future.

Passengers will increasingly expect transparency around environmental strategies and the availability of information may inform passenger decisions on where and how they fly.

Passengers will increasingly move within an ecosystem of service providers but expect a seamless experience. Airports should position themselves as integrators with an overview of the passenger journey.


An adaptive way forward

The current passenger process is designed to optimise the efficiency of progress through each stage of the airport, whilst maximising commercial opportunities for the airport. At present, review of the passenger journey focuses primarily on the airport itself rather than the journey to and from the airport.

While airports work with transport operators, local authorities and governments to integrate onward

travel, discussions centre on and around the immediate vicinity of the airport.

Monitoring of adapting passenger behaviours may provide insight into tackling social distancing effectively. Using data captured from passenger behaviour, airports can aid effective analysis and quick-response solutions.

How can we improve the passenger experience in the future?

  • Airports will need adaptable strategies to respond and harness the benefit that digital innovation brings to operations.
  • Using data capture of passenger behaviours in airports to aid implementation.
  • Continue to diversify away from retail to offer an airport waiting experience that improves health and mental wellbeing.
  • Consider design of future airport areas with increasing natural light and indoor environmental quality.
  • Offer personalisation of the journey process.


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