A New Era of Digital for Aviation

Mobile phones and tablets are fast becoming the perfect way in which airlines and airports can keep continuously connected with their passengers, from the moment of booking to boarding the aircraft.

Mobile phones and tablets are fast becoming the perfect way in which airlines and airports can keep continuously connected with their passengers, from the moment of booking to boarding the aircraft.

A new report by SITA has delved into the new technologies being adapted by both airlines and airports in order to give the passenger a sleek and personalised service.

According to the report, the coming three years will be all about laying the groundwork for personalisation that addresses the passengers needs, with real-time passenger data such as trip status, customer value, inventory and purchase history.

Some airlines and airports have already begun adapting to the digital age – airlines such as easyJet and Qantas have adapted their apps to meet customer needs, while airports such as Frankfurt and Cork have already begun to give travellers live airport information.

Airlines - On the Ground

According to the report by SITA, easyJet was among the early adopters to roll out an intuitive upgrade to their smartphone app in 2014. European low-cost carrier enhanced its app with intelligent push notifications which allowed the airline to send targeted, real-time travel updates with promotions to relevant and useful offers.

“The use of push notifications will transform the way we communicate with our passengers,” said Peter Duffy, easyJet Commercial Director, Customer, Product and Marketing, adding, “We’ll be providing them with targeted messages and helpful reminders at various stages in their easyJet journey to make things easier for them when they are on the move.”

Australian carrier, Qantas also offered an upgraded iPhone app, with personalised notifications such as recommendations for the best method of check-in, flight and boarding time alerts, and letting customers know what time they will need to leave for the airport, using their current location.

Finally, SWISS unveiled an iPad app providing personalised travel information such as relevant baggage and immigration information, and details of the food and beverages onboard. The SWISS Logbook can be accessed both online and offline, and also includes a travel booklet with specific destination information – including insider tips from SWISS crew members and employees.

Airports

For airports, personalisation will focus on better customer relationships and keeping travellers updated, according to the report by SITA.

Dubai Airports designed its mobile app to reflect passengers’ journeys – by entering their flight number, passengers access customised detail to ease their travel and enhance their airport experience. They can also choose to receive flight updates and any gate changes, with additional features expected in the coming months.

According to the report, Cork Airport’s investment in personalisation its mobile app has resulted in not only live arrival and departure information and live weather, but live bus and coach departure timetables, push notifications and most recently, live flight tracking. The latest feature allows passengers to track live updates of the planes exact location at that moment in time – allowing passengers to plan their journey to or from the airport.

According to the report, Frankfurt Airport’s enhanced app acts as a personal guide for the passenger with parking tips, orientation help, and maps for each terminal. The app can be customised to the individuals requirements and can receive information regarding any changes to their flight or gate, as well as special offers in the shops and restaurants. “Frankfurt Airport is one of the largest and most important hubs worldwide. Therefore, it is our goal to offer an app that meets the individual needs of passengers and offers them the best service possible”, said Nicole Ebner, Senior Executive Manager Business Development, Retail and Properties at operator Fraport.

Some airports are now linking their apps to wireless proximity detection technologies such as Bluetooth beacons in key locations around the terminal to enable better interactive information for passengers on the move.

Miami International Airport became the first in the world to completely deploy its beacons which can now be used by airlines and retailers to trigger useful content to passengers or staff. San Francisco Airport released a prototype smartphone app last summer that guides visually impaired travellers through the airport. The app relies on over 500 beacons to call out points of interest to users based on customisation of the app, such as shops, restaurants and power outlets.

 In conclusion, we are on the threshold of a new era of continous engagement between airlines, airports and airports at every stage of the journey. The greatest potential to improve passenger service through customisation will be reposnsive engagement when flights are delayed or cancelled, and travellers are at their most stressed. 

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