How Airports, Airlines & Technology Come Together to Elevate The Travel Experience

May 15, 2023
Together, technology companies, airports and airlines represent the three big pieces responsible for enhancing the passenger experience.
Tara Richards Biondolillo
Tara Richards Biondolillo

Newly released data shows that air travel is experiencing a major recovery, with global flight bookings ramping up 25 percent above pre-pandemic levels. As more people than ever take to the skies, airlines are adding new planes, customizing routes and increasing the number of seats on every flight to handle the surge. 

This pent-up demand for travel is spurring airlines and airports to make massive investments in mobile and web applications to enhance collaboration and to better serve their mutual customer, today’s digitally savvy traveler. For their part, airports are reconfiguring their spaces to add amenities and contextual navigation. 

As with all other aspects of our internet-enhanced life, travelers expect their journey from booking to destination to be a hyper-personalized, digitally accessible experience. They want an enjoyable experience while traveling and one of the best ways to deliver this is by enabling them with information at their fingertips that seamlessly weaves together up to date information from the airline, with accurate airport location data to give them a complete picture of their journey from start to finish. Airlines and airports that collaborate to provide these self-service opportunities give passengers the freedom to navigate at their own pace and with confidence through complex changing spaces. More efficient security and check-in processes give travelers more time to explore a customer-oriented airport architecture.  

At last year’s Passenger Terminal EXPO, Atrius, presented with customers, United Airlines and Heathrow Airport, on how future-forward solutions for self-service options, personalized loyalty programs and wayfinding improve passenger satisfaction. Together, technology companies, airports and airlines represent the three big pieces responsible for enhancing the passenger experience. 

Even though all three work together based on a shared focus, their investments need to work together to impact how travelers perceive the entire journey. When they all work in harmony, the passenger is happy and enjoys the journey. However, when things go wrong travelers often associate delays, missed connections and poor travel experiences in general with the airline. This can cause tension between airlines, airports and tech, but aligning is the best way to ensure the passenger is happy and revenue is steady for all three. 

Passenger-centric technology that supports personal wayfinding with digital mapping delivers efficiencies and confidence by making airports easier to navigate. Travelers can access relevant information via mobile devices, airport kiosks or overhead monitors to find exactly what they need. Blue-dot-enabled navigation shows a passenger exactly where they are on a map, providing precise contextual information and optimal routes to help them get the most out of their time in an airport. When the traveler is relaxed and confident when they arrive at their gate, they will feel more positively about their flight and their travel experience overall. 

Relaxed travelers who feel in control of their journey are also more inclined to visit restaurants and retailers and indulge in personal care or entertainment while waiting for their flight. One study showed that happier travelers spend more money at the airport, up to $200 on average per visit. While they might complain about their airline, it is in the airport’s best interest to work with the airlines and tech companies to provide the most seamless experience possible to travelers. 

Technology should serve as the bridge connecting the airlines and airports to make the experience easy and relaxing for passengers. A collaborative approach benefits the entire air travel infrastructure and can even make these industries more sustainable. Airlines and airports have traditionally focused on their own areas but with more planes, more people and the need for more effective use of existing space, it’s imperative they work in tandem to improve the traveler experience.