Passengers, airports and airlines alike want to see a seamless journey to and through the airport. For passengers, it means being able to take control of the journeys, easing anxiety.
This explains why more than 90% want to be able to use their mobile phones to search for flights, receive flight updates and boarding passes, according to SITA’s Passenger IT Trends Survey.
For airports and airlines, the end game is continuous reductions and operational costs – that can be delivered by ceding real-time control to passengers. It’s a virtuous circle.
That’s why 82% of airlines are investing in programs over the next couple of years to improve personalization, 96% are planning to provide flight status updates, 78% expect to assist self-bag drop, and about 50% plan to have roving agents for check-in, bag-drop and boarding.
But none of that is helpful unless the way is clear from curb to airside, with passengers able to pass through the terminal without bottlenecks.
To manage the flow through the terminals more efficiently, many airports are deploying sensor technologies, such as beacons, to gauge the movement of people at critical points in their journey to the gate as well as environmental monitoring.
Nearly half of airports (48%) are implementing major programs over the next three years, according to the 2016 Airport IT Trends Survey, up from 30% in the 2015 survey. It’s a critical step in the evolution to the Internet of Things.
According to the 2015 Survey, the most common place for these sensors is at the security checkpoint, with 17% of airports having already deployed them and another 44% planning to by the end of 2018.
Only 6% of airports have deployed sensor technology at check-in, but data from the survey indicates that check-in areas will see the largest number of sensor deployments over the next three years, with 55% of airports planning to install them.
The deployment of sensors to monitor the arrival processes, in areas such as baggage reclaim, is almost non-existent today and while just over one-third of airports expect to install them by the end of 2018, the majority of airports are mainly focusing investments on outbound passengers.
Day of travel
But while the use of sensor technologies will enable better queue and passenger movement management through retail areas and gates, airports are now starting to use beacons, in conjunction with mobile apps, to deliver real-time ‘day of travel’ information services directly to passengers at the appropriate point in their journey.
Flight status notifications are already standard airport app features, but over the course of the next three years a range of new services will become a common part of the mobile experience.
In particular, wayfinding within the airport will be introduced by 61% of airports by 2018, while notifications, such as security queue times or parking availability, are planned by 58% of airports.
Many airports are also looking to monetize their mobile investments by developing revenue streams. For example, 57% of airports plan to offer retail promotions through their app, while 41% will introduce purchasing of airports services, such as car parking and lounge access.
Over 40% of airports will support these efforts by making cashless payments available with their app.
Individually, these are all good developments that will help. But they’re dependent on a joined up approach, in particular the marriage of two elements.
First, airports are sitting on rich, valuable data. But airport data has typically tended to be fragmented, inaccurate or non-existent and distributed across multiple sources.
Second, passengers increasingly expect access to data at any time, anywhere and across a range of devices.
SITA’s Day of Travel Services provides a set of capabilities, including the world’s first location-aware airport app. Announced in 2015, Day of Travel Services is based around three critical elements – Airport App, detailed, high-resolution digital maps, Bluetooth-powered beacons and a suite of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).
“It’s impossible to exaggerate the importance of APIs to the future development of technology for the air transport industry,” says Ashish Kapoor, SITA’s Senior Product Manager, Day of Travel Services.
“APIs provide the pathways and interfaces between multiple applications. Without APIs, Facebook, Twitter, Google and a host of other applications that help us run our day-to-day lives would not be possible. And they are already helping improve our own industry’s passenger and customer experience.
“People want to access data, but with the fragmentation of air transport industry data we need joined up thinking. Direct interfaces into airport and airline systems would be cumbersome, costly, slow and create a technical maelstrom. APIs give us a joined up approach, while making the process seamless, cost effective and simple.”
Easy as 1,2,3
The range of Day of Travel Services powered by APIs currently includes airport navigation, real-time flight status, flight follower, wait-time for areas such as security and customs,
SITA’s APIs are available through developer.aero – enabling software developers to tap into a rich store of aviation data for use with potentially game-changing innovations across the industry, targeted at passenger experience, airport management, flight operations, or the connected aircraft.
Their great advantage is that they are, flexible and cost-effective. They can be deployed quickly with no significant IT investment. And, in a technology world that continues to depend on immediacy, they accelerate the delivery of applications. It’s as simple as register, get access, use.
“The amount of data an airport generates is massive,” concludes Ashish Kapoor, “and using it productively, in a joined up way, can add significant value for passengers and operations. It can also be used to commercial benefit, which is why we believe Day of Travel Services have such a key role to play in the evolution of industry services as a whole.”