The ultimate airport experience: Satisfied passengers & happy employees


Oh no, I picked the wrong line, again!

Who doesn’t know that feeling of having chosen the slowest moving waiting line? Whether in the supermarket, in a self-service restaurant or when checking in at an airport, the feeling that you are in the slowest processing queue is all too familiar. You look to the right, you look to the left, you count the people in the queue and the number of items they have. If you happen to be with two or more people, you split up and wait in different lines so as to be able to switch to the fastest one once it’s obvious which one that is.

Sometimes, the wait doesn’t end even when you reach the head of the queue. Once it’s finally your turn, you could still face delays such as a shift change or the counter running out of luggage tags. This causes you to have to wait even longer. Sometimes you can even feel the bad mood of the service staff. You ask yourself: What went wrong? Is the person dealing with you just having a bad day, or are they not happy with how their shifts are planned?

Unhappy staff = unhappy customers

If it’s the latter, the service staff is probably preoccupied with other matters at that point in time. For example, they could be wondering about their shift plan and the effects it has on, for instance, their free time, salary and the person they share the shift with. Maybe the service personnel are exhausted and fatigued due to working unplanned overtime because the duty roster didn’t take into account the estimated number of passengers to handle. Maybe they had to rush from one task to the other with no time to really focus on their impact on the overall situation.

No matter what the reason is, their long faces – along with the long queues – will affect their customers: the passengers. No one likes waiting in line, whether it’s at check in, baggage drop, security check or the boarding gate. To add to their unhappiness from queuing for so long, the time that they initially planned to visit the stores in the airport retail area will be limited or even gone completely. Even if there was time left for shopping, the passengers wouldn’t spend as much as usual, as happy passengers purchase 45% more on airport retail. The result? Dropping airport retail sales numbers and low passenger ratings for the airport.

The benefits of demand-driven planning

To become a world-leading airport, you must ensure that passengers don’t have to go through excessive queues and unnecessary wait times. Imagine if you could predict the number of passengers at check-in and plan your staff and counters accordingly. Innovative demand-driven planning enables your planners to make well informed decisions on the day of operations about how many check-in desks to open, at what time, and for how long. This results in optimal coverage in the terminal at all times ― for example, ensuring that enough check-in desks are opened so that passengers are served promptly, but not too many that employees are idle while costs rise.

An airport planner must always to find the balance between efficient operations and happy staff. Achieve this, and you’ve reached two goals at once – satisfied passengers and reduced costs. Efficient airports also gain positive passenger feedback, which improves the airport’s reputation. Singapore Changi Airport, for instance, was crowned the World’s Best Airport at the Skytrax 2016 World Airport Awards, followed by Incheon International and Munich Airport.

A solution

With the help of a self-service employee portal, staff can fill in their desired working hours or swap shifts amongst each other. This allows planners to be able to create a schedule that matches anticipated customer demand while taking into account staff preferences, thus maintaining a balance between customer and employee satisfaction.

Want to learn more about planning your ground resources efficiently? Uri Schlafrig, senior aviation solutions consultant at Quintiq recently discussed how to deliver a great passenger experience and keep employees happy. Watch the webinar recording.

Still to come: Part 2 of our exclusive webinar series, ‘From the ground up: Two big ideas for improving aviation resource planning’. Register now!

Kerstin Blankertz

About Kerstin Blankertz

Who doesn’t love to travel? Having gone through countless flights and layovers, I've always found myself fascinated with planes, runways, and how an airport is run. By becoming a marketer for the aviation industry, I've managed to stay close to my passion. Besides helping to solve some of the most complex planning puzzles in the aviation industry, I enjoy skiing, running and exploring hidden bike trails.