The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have not only altered the lifestyle of billions of people but also dismantled travel patterns and habits, drastically affecting the aviation sector. With the resumption of domestic passenger flights in India, the Indian aviation industry is innovating to provide a safer travel experience for passengers while also adhering to government safety guidelines. Consequently, the industry has had to introduce guidelines for air travel covering social distancing, hygiene and sanitation, regular health and thermal checks with a focus on reducing touchpoints, crowd management, baggage claims, customer service, and security checks.
To tackle these challenges, the airline industry must leverage technology that delivers the experience passengers expect, automates operations to improve airport and airline efficiency, and in turn rebuilds passenger confidence.
Mobile enabled technology not only adds a personalised touch to the travel experience but also increases passenger satisfaction. SITA data showed that passengers are willing to use their mobile phones to help them automate their entire journey and enables a more fluid travel experience, with the increased use of mobile phones to control each step of the journey. According to SITA IT Insights report 2019, passenger satisfaction was 3.85 per cent higher among those taking advantage of self-scanning gates to verify their ID compared to those using agent assisted controls. Moreover, 95 per cent would welcome the opportunity to receive bag collection notifications via their mobile devices on arrival. Where real-time mobile alerts were provided, passenger satisfaction was 8.6 per cent higher than among those who had to rely on display screens or public announcements.
Such solutions reduce touchpoints at the airports, mitigating the health risks of the passengers to a great extent. It allows passengers to use their mobile device to scan their boarding passes, print bag tags, or drop a bag without needing to touch the physical kiosk or bag drop. Similarly, mobile-enabled staff can timely tend to the needs of passengers, while still taking advantage of shared devices thereby increasing agility for normal and disrupted at-airport operations.
In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the aviation market has been flooded with a wide range of dedicated self-service applications and mobile solutions that are designed to help, across all stages of the passenger journey. For example, the recent introduction of contactless self-check-in kiosks at the Mumbai Airport significantly reduces the need to touch surfaces in the airport and enables passengers to simply scan a QR code on their mobile phone or tablet to operate the kiosks. After scanning the QR code, they can then use their mobile device as a trackpad to control check-in and self-bag drop kiosks to print their boarding passes and bag tags.
Cloud-based solutions offer scalable capacity, reduce complexity, and are easily deployable. These are adapted to cater to on-demand needs quickly and efficiently. The integration of cloud-based businesses with Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) helps unlock the data needed for mobile boarding passes, baggage check-in and tagging, security, boarding, transfers, and baggage claim.
Moreover, it makes the whole process flexible and provides real-time information accessible from anywhere, at any time, for both passengers and employees. For instance, omnichannel cloud, a cloud-based contact center, is being used widely during the current remote working scenario to help address evolving workplace requirements, provide seamless digital collaboration with employees, partners, and customers, and adapt to changing airport scenarios.
AI and Big Data
Coupled with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), Big Data is helping the industry to predict and forecast consumer behavior and react and adapt to changing Covid-19 measures and regulations. AI driven applications also act as digital IDs which facilitate touchless journeys by allowing passengers to breeze through the airport using facial recognition. Moreover, armed with the information they need, it can also effectively be used for contact tracing to match names of travelers to medical patient names in any language and quickly.
Biometric technologies such as facial recognition, fingerprint authentication, and retinal scanning are helping reduce touchpoints at the airports and eliminating the risk of physical contact. The world is increasingly interconnected and connectivity is becoming a business necessity. The integration of biometric systems for border control, airport check-ins, onboarding, migration formalities, and the entire verification process can help create a better future for the airline industry.
This also extends to the baggage-claim process, allowing passengers to keep a real-time track of their luggage and report and monitor the recovery of mishandled bags for themselves on an airline branded mobile app. Instead of wasting time lining up in cramped offices at the airport, passengers can self-report and track the resolution of the lost bag, quickly and easily on their phones. This not only improves the passenger experience but also reduces handling costs while keeping passengers and staff safer from having to spend time in high-risk crowded environments.
A self-bag drop via a personalised app on a mobile phone can help in improving passenger service while keeping the guideline of social distancing in check. The same technology is being used at Orlando airport with British Airways and the CBP which has made the process of onboarding and baggage-claim hassle free and efficient.
The aviation industry can turn this situation around and use this as an opportunity to provide its customers with the best technology and seamless experience while also adhering to the pandemic-norms. Integration of emerging technologies to help reduce health risks and cater to the industry’s responsibility of passengers’ safety is helping the airline industry curate its services as per the needs of the passengers. It is capitalising on passenger safety through innovations and technological advancements by personalising, optimising and upscaling the digital interactions to deliver a specially curated traveling experience to passengers, generating maximum customer satisfaction.
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