Online Exclusive: The Future of Airport Customer Service

Technology is facilitating dramatic change in the aviation industry

Until recently, airlines were responsible for the majority of customer service during a passenger’s flight but that has changed in recent years. As airports have realized the importance of providing the best possible flight experience for customers traveling through their terminals, they are attempting to make waiting for a flight more comfortable, by providing gourmet eateries, cell phone charging stations, higher-end facilities, a wider variety of in-airport activities, among other planned upgrades.

At Allegiant Systems, we are creating technology that will revolutionize the inflight experience — both for airline crew and passengers. As technology continues to develop, these same technologies will be able to be applied to improving processes and customer service in the airport. We have identified three specific areas in which technology will improve how airports perform, both day-to-day and in the long-term.  

Facilitating Day-to-Day Delays

When flying, many negative customer experiences are created because of unforeseen delays, mechanical issues, weather problems, etc. These annoyances can create delays of minutes or even hours, and in the worst case scenarios, even cause the flight to be cancelled until the issue has been resolved.

Since the ruling that airlines (at US airports) must report lengthy delays went into effect on August 23, 2011, airlines have decreased the number of delays that customers’ experience, but it is possible for the frequency of these delays to decrease even further, if both airlines and airports have the right technology. iPad-based technology (like Allegiant Systems’ FlyDesk) allows cabin crew to manage all reporting and manuals digitally, making it quicker and easier to address unforeseen problems as they arise.

Let’s look at a common problem: mechanical issues. When an airplane experiences mechanical problems (after boarding), the in-flight crew is required to complete multiple reports, which can contribute significantly to the length of delay experienced by travelers. These delays can also have a big impact on the operations of an airport. If a parked plane is blocking other flights from landing/departing from that gate, it can cause a delay for every aircraft that was scheduled to depart after it.

If this happens multiple times each day, imagine the logistical issues that airport personnel would experience. But if the delayed aircraft was enabled with digital reporting technology, the reports would be less time consuming for the in-flight crew and could result in a quicker response time, and therefore, shorter delays for travelers.

Improved Airport Station Operations

As well as improving reporting processes, iPad-based technology offers a more effective way to handle customer service issues. Aviation CRM systems are becoming more user-friendly and will be accessible via iPad systems, like FlyDesk. These CRM systems make it easier for both in-flight crew and airport staff to access customer information, process sales and address customer service issues. Currently through FlyDesk, airline crews can access corporate memos, manage internal communications, access flight data, up-to-date weather info, etc. while in-flight, from a single device. In the future, airline crews in the airport will be able to handle customer check-in, checking baggage, selling tickets, anywhere, anytime from a single, handheld device.

Of course, this technology will have a huge impact on airport operations as well. Fewer employees can be used to accomplish the same tasks in the boarding area (a benefit for the airlines) and because all customer service activities are centralized onto one handheld, mobile device in the boarding area, the whole process will be smoother and less complicated (a bonus in keeping airline operations running on schedule).

Today’s consumers rate airports, just as they do airlines – in fact, there are even polls/articles dedicated to comparing the best and worst airports - so these new technologies will be a huge benefit in improving customer satisfaction and pre-flight experience, as well as improving a given airport’s reputation.

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