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  • Airports of the third category do not publish delay information which sounds strange but it could be because of technical limitations or because they are in fact category two airports or because the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.

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