Airports are increasingly becoming relevant to millions of people around the world as air travel becomes more accessible and infrastructure development picks up. I remember doing a study on airport management during my engineering days.
For most travellers, airports create the first impression of a location. Having a world class airport makes a big difference to the image and branding of a city and country. I’ve had the opportunity to travel through few airports in the U.S., Europe and Asia. It is sometimes surprising how some important basic elements are not given adequate attention even in large international airports. I’m sure some of you would have felt related frustrations.
1. Crowd/Queue Management
As simple as this may sound, this is sometimes the most frustrating aspect for many travellers. Even in airports that have great infrastructure, this sometimes can be an issue. Basic training on this topic would be useful for airline/airport staff and immensely beneficial for travellers.
2. Seating availability
Sufficient and ergonomic seating availability should be among the most basic requirements but surprisingly many airports lack quality seating facilities.
3. Automated Walkways and Elevators
Large airports and transfers that result from one terminal to the next, and the trek between two gates far apart can be very tiring for many.
4. Screens and Information boards
This can sometimes be surprisingly confusing for even seasoned travelers. There’s got to be a better science of understanding how information for travellers is easily visible and understandable.
5. Airport Information Services
It is very useful to have direct customer service at the airports, to cater to the diverse groups of travellers who may not understand the language and services available. If one does not have enough time between connections as well, this is very helpful. Additionally, every airport should have a tourist information center with competent staff who should be able to address various questions about the city in multiple languages.
6. Spacing between baggage carousels and related information
The chaos around baggage carousels can be very frustrating. Information about the flights served should be conveyed through multiple large screens. Expected wait time for luggage arrival should be communicated to passengers – as the waiting times vary quite a bit. Quick, efficient and high quality lost baggage services should be present as these passengers can be expected to be impatient and frustrated.
7. Free wireless connectivity, Internet facilities and plug in ports
In today’s connected world, this should be a basic expectation.
8. Good restaurants with multiple dietary options
9. Public and other convenient transportation connections to the city 24×7
The planning should take into consideration various flight times and frequencies. Quality of service and interaction should be assessed rigorously.
As in most services, the competencies of individuals providing customer service can influence and contribute heavily to a traveller’s overall experience and perceptions about the local culture. Service quality and employee development should be assessed constantly with high expectations. An airport is a window to the city.