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Consumer aviation survey shows drop in satisfaction for flight passengers | Aviation NewsAs airports around the world appear to be placing more and more importance on passenger experience and satisfaction, it is interesting to read that the latest Aviation Consumer Survey results from the CAA show that there is a clear drop in just that. But where are passengers less satisfied?

This, the fifth wave of the UK Aviation Consumer Survey, investigates the current behaviour and attitudes of flight passengers to air travel. The survey looks at every aspect of the passenger journey, from arrival at the originating airport to arrival at the destination airport.

3,500 consumers took part in this survey, selected from a cross-section of UK citizens aged 18+, nationally representative of the population.

The results are used by the Civil Aviation Authority to ascertain the most current and rising aviation issues according to consumers, and to assist in decision-making, regulatory requirements, policy and strategic positioning to improve systems and services.

What to the latest results highlight about passenger satisfaction?

The latest results show that satisfaction amongst flight travellers has been dropping consistently over a two-year period (2016-18). The decreases are slight, but significant, with 90% in the first quarter survey of 2016 to 83% in 2018. However, the decreases in passenger satisfaction are not happening on the ground.

Systems and technologies are streamlining airports of all sizes all over the world, and this is paying off in terms of passenger satisfaction. The reduction in queuing and lengthy security screening processing times have both contributed. Airports in particular have been showing an increasing interest in improving passenger experience, and the latest in self-service technologies have placed greater control of the passenger journey directly into the hands of flight travellers.

The greatest dissatisfactions are happening in the air, during flights and during problematic times, when around half of respondents are worried that any complaints they do have, may be falling on deaf ears.

Speaking about the recent drop in satisfaction, the CAA Director, Tim Johnson said, ‘Delays and disruption can be caused by a range of different factors. Some of these are within the control of airlines, and some are not. Whatever the cause, these delays can be frustrating for passengers. We expect airlines to always provide prompt and accurate information and if passengers are entitled to further care and compensation, this should be provided without delay.

The in-flight experience is making passengers less satisfied, according to survey results. Over two years, the number has fallen from 81% (2016) to 77% (2018), and while still a reasonable satisfaction measurement, it shows a significant drop since 2016.

Where are the least satisfied flight passengers?

An interesting highlight of the survey is that there are regional changes. It seems that flight passengers are more satisfied the further north of the UK they are.

East Midlands travellers are the least happy, at just 76%, with Wales close behind at 78%, where passengers in the north east are 89% happy, on average.

It is widely felt that airports are working hard towards making the ground experience as seamless as possible to improve passenger experience and satisfaction. Infrastructural changes, master systems integration and implementation of the latest innovations in self-service kiosks, biometrics and common use airport systems are all helping to improve not only satisfaction, but also airport operational management.

It is now time for airlines to follow suit and take passenger experience and satisfaction to another level.

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passenger-processingVirgin Atlantic has spoken out in a call to the UK government to take action to reduce immigration waiting lines, asking that its passengers receive the ‘welcome visitors deserve.’ The US airline spoke out following reports that waiting times for passenger processing through immigration had reached up to two and a half hours.

The airline say they have been ‘doing their bit,’ providing additional staffing and refreshments for queueing passengers, but they understand that their passengers are left ‘frustrated before they’ve even started their trip’ and are calling the wait times ‘unacceptable’.

Virgin Atlantic has experienced significant increases of up to 20% in traveller numbers to the UK, possibly due to increased opportunities to benefit from Sterling exchange rates, and events such as the Royal Wedding, but it operates 23 flights per day into London Heathrow and its meet and greet service is doing little to help ease and improve passenger experience.

The latest figures show that Heathrow’s UK Border Force sometimes falls far short of its commitment under its Service Level Agreement (SLA) to pass 95% of its non-EEA passengers within 45 minutes. There was just one day during July 2018 when this SLA was met.

With airports in other countries performing to a greater extent, there is a growing concern that this news about ‘unacceptable’ immigration processing times across the UK are poorly timed, particularly with uncertainty already surrounding the first half of 2019 as the UK prepares to leave the EU.

Although all aviation industry participants understand the importance of security and immigration in today’s current climate, questions are being raised and pressure placed on the UK government to streamline immigration processes as quickly as possible.

Automated Screening in Airports | Airport BlogAll over the globe, airport operators are seeking the seamless passenger experience for the traveller journey, from arrivals to departure.

Automation in airports is bringing this closer, particularly in the area of airport security.

It has been announced that the UK’s Department of Transport is looking to use automation technology for the screening of liquids, which currently are limited to just 100ml. This could mean the end of such limits in the UK, which currently has some of the strictest security measures in the world, according to a Department of Transport spokesperson.

The limit on carrying liquids onto aircraft was imposed in the summer of 2006, when a bomb plot was uncovered on a passenger flight. The chemicals were discovered in an ordinary drinks bottle, which at the time, would have been relatively simple to smuggle on board the aircraft.

The latest automated baggage screening technology uses 3D imagery, which can look at items in passenger baggage from all angles, and explosive detection technology, currently being trialled in the UK, could lead to the elimination of current liquids restrictions.

Reducing passenger security screening time

The time passengers spend in security lanes is already being reduced with the latest screening technology, and passengers are moving through these areas with greater efficiency than ever before, but, according to industry professionals, this can be improved even further with the latest in automation, enhancing passenger facilitation across the entire airport environment.

Some of the industry’s leaders, such as Rockwell Collins, have introduced solutions for passenger facilitation, including options for biometric identity management, boarding pass verification and automated border control. Using automation is universally accepted in the aviation industry as being the way forward for future travel, and passenger experience is high on the agenda.

If passengers no longer have to empty their hand luggage completely, remove liquids and other items to be screened separately, it is easy to see how this is going to speed up the process of security screening. There won’t be many passengers complaining about that!

Stansted Airport Opens New Check In Area | Airports NewsFlight passengers using London Stansted Airport this month will experience a new section of check-in area, opened earlier this month as a part of its £600 million transformation project.

The latest milestone marks success for London Stansted’s transformation programme, as passenger numbers increase steadily. The eight new check-in desks are hi-tech and ready to meet the growing numbers of travellers using Stansted. Eventually, plans are for a total of 30 new counters to help create an improved passenger experience and enhance the operational productivity of the airport.

Paul Willis, London Stansted’s transformation director said, ‘We’ve been working hard since the end of last year and it’s been fantastic to watch the project move away from the planning stage and come to life. We’re delighted to reach this major milestone in our transformation programme.’

Other plans included in the first phase of the transformation programme are:

  • Upgrades to the airfield
  • Upgrades to the car parks
  • New upper deck seating areas

Airports of all sizes around the world are turning to the latest passenger check-in innovations to improve operations and increase the experience for passengers moving through the airport environment.

There is a passenger processing revolution occurring in the world’s busiest airports, and the addition of self-service kiosks and biometrics technology is helping to strengthen airport security – meeting increasing mandatory requirements, while reducing queues and helping airports manage costs.

What’s next for Stansted’s transformation project?

Phase two of the project will be focussed on the construction of a new arrivals building, which is expected to open in 2020 at a cost of £130 million. The new building will include enhanced baggage reclamation points and immigration department, improved access and a new retail shopping area, in addition to a larger public forecourt for passengers arriving at the airport.

The project is expected to be fully completed in 2022.

LAS Passenger Technologies | Airports BlogLas Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS) has recently renewed a 20-year long-standing contract with Rockwell Collins to further focus on improving passenger technologies.

As a part of its Terminal 1 upgrade, LAS will replace 176 common-use self service kiosks with new units and hope to maintain its position as one of North America’s leading international airport hubs.

Our team is constantly evaluating the airport’s infrastructure and operations seeking ways to enhance customer service, maximize efficiencies and increase flexibility,’ said Samuel Ingalls, assistant director of Aviation over Information Systems for LAS. ‘Over the past two decades we have had great success in managing our soaring passenger volume through the implementation of common use processes and other cutting-edge technologies such as those provided by Rockwell Collins.

LAS will adopt and implement a range of Rockwell Collins solutions to strengthen its position and improve passenger experience:

  • ARINC cMUSE – the cloud-native passenger processing system offers increased flexibility and reduced support and implementation requirements.
  • ARINC SelfDrop – Rockwell Collins’ automated self-service baggage system is undergoing trials at LAS which will continue under the renewed contract.

Additional airport systems from Rockwell Collins will continue to be supported:

  • ARINC MUSE – the reliable CUPPS system to enhance airport operational cost-effectivity.
  • RFID bag tags – providing advanced baggage tracking features.
  • ARINC BagLinkTM – improving accuracy and efficiency for baggage loading.
  • Self-Boarding Gates – automated gate technology.
  • Local DCS – delivering a stand-alone check-in and boarding system.

Tony Chapman, senior director, Airport Systems Marketing and Strategy for Rockwell Collins said, ‘Rockwell Collins and LAS work together on a continual basis to ensure our solutions are meeting and exceeding the demands that passenger influx has on its airport operations. As we look further into the future, the integrated working team will look even closer at how biometrics and other disruptive technologies will enhance the curb-to-curb airport experience.’

vMUSE_MexicoThe industry-leading Common Use Passenger Processing System (CUPPS) from Rockwell Collins’ ARINC airports, ARINC vMUSE, has been selected by Grupo Aeroportuario del Centro Norte (OMA) for implementation in eight Mexico airports in a bid to streamline check-in processes, gate services and resource management.

Using vMUSE, the airports can make the most of existing infrastructure, and enable sharing capabilities for multiple airlines. This gives another layer of flexibility for airport operations and enhances passenger experience simultaneously, due to reduced queueing instances and greater management of peak flow passenger traffic.

The benefits of vMUSE for operators

The implementation of vMUSE can help to reduce the challenges posed by operational inefficiencies, and helps to redirect capital investment in other areas, due to the use of existing terminal equipment and infrastructure. The reduction in valuable terminal space is an added bonus, with fewer dedicated check-in counters needed, which also helps airport operators to better manage airport resources and personnel to further streamline and enhance operations, thus boosting productivity while simultaneously improving passenger experience and ultimately, satisfaction.

Mazatlan and Zihuatanejo airports currently do use vMUSE, but by 2019, passengers and airport operators should be able to enjoy the benefits at the following locations:

  • Acapulco
  • Culiacan
  • Chihuahua
  • Monterrey
  • Reynosa
  • San Luis Potosi

The teams at Rockwell Collins work closely with clients to determine the right fit of solution to meet the unique challenges in operations. Without a structured, tailored approach to the individual needs of the airport, regardless of size, flexibility and scalability become challenging in any airport.

Our Latin American team worked closely with the OMA Group to accommodate its need to leverage existing virtual infrastructure at each airport,” said Yun Chong, global head of sales, Airport Systems for Rockwell Collins. “Our customized solution will offer OMA’s airports increased operational efficiency as travel demands increase in the region.”

Hamburg Airport Launch Self Bag Drop Kiosks | Airports NewsPassengers flying out of Germany’s Hamburg Airport with KLM, Air France and easyJet, will now be able to enjoy an enhanced travel experience with the introduction of ten Self Bag Drop kiosks, unveiled officially for use last week.

The Director of Aviation at the airport, Johannes Scharnberg, notes that the kiosks, provided by a German supplier, have already been a success and said, ‘Already after just a short period of operation, we can see that our passengers are not having any problems with the new equipment.  And we are very happy with the system’s stability. Many of our passengers have already discovered the benefits of the kiosks for themselves and given us very positive feedback.’

Self service applications are growing in popularity for airports of all sizes around the world, increasing efficiency, improving passenger experience and moving towards a seamless airport passenger processing system.

The Self Bag Drop kiosks will eventually serve more airlines, with common-use technology and the added benefits of cost-sharing. Airport operators can also optimise resource management within the entire airport environment using self-service applications.

More than 80% of airport check-ins now happen away from the traditional terminal counter, as more and more passengers use the online check-in facility offered by most airlines. Travellers are gaining greater control of their journey and can arrive later at the airport terminal than ever before. The use of Self Bag Drop means that passengers can simply arrive with a pre-printed boarding pass, which can be scanned and used within the kiosks to produce a baggage tag that the passenger can attach themselves and send the baggage through for security screening and automated transfer to the aircraft.

Rockwell Collins’ ARINC Self Bag Drop solution – ARINC SelfDrop – can process tagged bags in as little as 10 seconds, making a clear case for enhanced efficiency and promising to transform airport terminals on a truly global scale.