Monday, July 26, 2010

Understanding airport passenger experience - information and communication

After a few bad experiences where the information about a flight delay was very poor I was looking for similar experiences of peers and came across this research for the UK Department of Transport about understanding airport passenger experience. It hits the bull's eye.

It says "Respondents wanted good, accurate and real‐time information flows to help them plan their journey and feel more in control, especially in departures, at boarding gates and in baggage areas. But information at airports – flight information especially ‐ was often perceived to be limited, unreliable and poorly displayed."

Looking at the delay information which is, for insiders, the (Public) Expected Time of Departure, or ETD, I simplified the categories of airports I experienced:

Unknown or wrong ETD
Know and control ETD
Display delay/ETD2
Do not display delay/ETD4
  • Airports in the first category are doing a great job. They work together with their partners, in particular ground handlers, monitor the ETD setting process and keep the passengers up to date about delays. Example would be a delay because the airport knows that the inbound flight is already delayed.
  • Airports in the second category do display a delay but they just say "flight delayed" or they show an ETD which is ever changing. This can be really bad when updates only happen after it has become clear to everybody that the flight will be delayed.
  • Airports of the third category do not publish delay information which sounds strange but it could be because of technical limitations or because they are in fact category two airports or because the airlines do not want them to publish any delays.
  • Last but not least there are those airports in category four that may stem from the ancient times where airports only felt responsible for infrastructure and neither for operation nor for quality.
In fact, all of the above about delay information applies for any flight information which is displayed to the public. And, when I am talking about publishing reliable and up to date information I also trust that the staff should have the same level of information and attitude.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The need to improve punctuality

UK budget airline easyJet was given just 90 days to ensure more flights run on time - or it will be forced to change its name. Background being that the carrier only performed at around 50% punctuality at Gatwick airport.

At the same time and airport (Gatwick) British Airways was the most punctual major carrier in June 2010, with 87 per cent of short haul and domestic flights departing on time and 86 per cent of international flights on time.

Can you really compare this? What can easyJet do to improve?

In previous posts I was highlighting some flaws of punctuality (on-time performance in percent) as a metric.
  • Cancellations improve punctuality
  • Indicator ignores size of aircraft and number of passengers affected
  • No assessment about the financial loss possible
  • Responsibilities not allocated
  • Difficult to determine improvement measures
It would be interesting to analyse the actual delay cost of both carriers, allocate responsibilities and then discuss differences and actions to improve. Certainly involving discussions around delay code assignment, reactionary delays and ownership.

It is great that punctuality is on top of the agenda. I am afraid, however, that the problem will be pushed around again because it is a bit more complicated than just punctuality in percent.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Dashboards versus Scorecards

There have been ongoing discussions about the difference between scorecards and dashboards.

In the book Drive Business Performance the authors refer to Wayne Eckerson (Deploying Dashboards and Scorecards, July 2006) with a nice overview.

PurposeMeasures performanceCharts progress
UsersManagers, staffExecutives, managers, staff
UpdatesReal-time to right timePeriodic snapshots
Top-level displayCharts and tablesSymbols and icons

Is it important to differentiate? Not really, both present a structured view of the goals and objectives for the organization. Key is to drive efficiency and help them focus on what matters.