The Des Moines International Airport's mobile website, created by FlightView and launched in late April, is optimized for all major mobile platforms, including Android, iPhone, and BlackBerry.
FlightView Inc. has been developing flight tracking tools for general and commercial aviation for some 30 years, and the company is now a leading developer of mobile technologies for the aviation industry.
According to a FlightView survey of travelers regarding their expectations for mobile technology — for airports, 62 percent of travelers prefer to check their flight status on mobile websites, and only 38 percent preferred mobile native apps (applications); 65 percent said having an airport mobile-ready website was of high importance.
With airports in the U.S. taking on an increasing role in customer service, and mobile technologies becoming prevalent among frequent flyers, airports are faced with a challenge: What is the best way for an airport to deliver critical real-time travel information to passengers frequenting airport terminal facilities?
Comments FlightView CEO Mike Benjamin, “More people are relying on mobile technology on the day of travel than ever before.
“Part of what has been exciting for us is riding some of the different technology waves, and mobile is the latest ... it’s a great way to deliver flight information.”
Apps vs. mobile websites
Asks Benjamin, “As an airport, what is the best bang for the buck in this mobile space?
“We think it is in developing a mobile-enabled website; a site that detects what kind of phone it’s being viewed on and takes advantage of the full-screen real estate and how the user-interface works.”
The other alternative is to develop a mobile app, relates Benjamin, which he explains is better for an airline because it can take advantage of storing frequent flyer numbers and integrating the app with a smart phone’s address book.
“The problem with an app is you have to make one for each mobile platform, whether it be iPhone, Android, or Blackberry,” adds Benjamin.
Flightview has developed apps for all of the major mobile platforms. The apps give more of a personalized tool for the travel journey, whereas the mobile website is somewhat more general and simplified, but able to deliver critical information in real-time on a simple user interface.
“An airport mobile-enabled site is really great for airport specific information that would be harder to get into an app, such as information about a closed parking garage or a gate change,” remarks Benjamin.
“The thing about a mobile site compared with a regular website is you really have to think about the people using it; they are on the go,” explains Benjamin. “You really want to keep the user interface simple: arrivals, departures, amenities; don’t give people a lot of choices. You want big buttons on a simplified interface.”
Weather is information that travelers are interested in accessing easily, specifically weather forecasts of both the current location as well as the ultimate destination. Including wayfinding information and terminal maps is very important as well, says Benjamin.
Emerging features include alerting functions, so that if a gate changes the phone will inform the passenger before they hear it from the airline gate agent.
One thing to remember in terms of operations and maintenance, remarks Benjamin, “You can bet is there are going to be a lot of changes in the future, and new functionality; think about the maintenance end of it.”
Flightview maintains ongoing service contracts with its airport customers at a monthly rate. The company’s latest mobile website launch was for the Des Moines International Airport, which took three months to develop.