Airport Security Cannot Come at the Cost of Passenger Experience

Industry Transformations4 minutes readDec 11th, 2019

Airports, airlines, passengers, civil aviation organizations and governments have long understood the urgency of security in air transport. The 9/11 attacks woke us up to the need for more effective security measures. Since then, international civil aviation organizations and governments have continually evolved security measures that airports need to comply with.

Unfortunately, increased security often comes at the expense of a quality passenger experience. While technology has made inroads in some of the processes like check-in, bag drop, boarding and border control, security is one area that is still hugely dependent on manual processes. Passenger screening can lead to long queues and wait times that inconvenience passengers and cause them considerable anxiety about missing their flights. The problem is compounded when passengers must provide documents, such as passports, identity documents and boarding passes at multiple checkpoints. And when security screening backlogs force airlines to hold flights, the negative impacts snowball. Congestion at gates grows. Passengers become annoyed at delays. Airline schedules can be impacted nationwide and beyond. Ultimately, airports experience poor publicity.

Why Airports Must Step Up Passenger Experience Efforts

While customer experience has always been one way businesses could differentiate themselves, over the past five to ten years, it has become increasingly critical. In a 2018 customer experience report, PwC found that 73% of global respondents say a positive experience is an important factor in their purchasing decisions, and customers are willing to pay as much as 16% more for a better customer experience. Nearly 80% of PwC’s respondents indicate that speed and convenience are among the most important elements of a positive customer experience.

Like any other customer, airline passengers are looking for a great customer experience. Airports owe them a relaxing and hassle-free travel experience that makes them want to come back for their next trip. In addition to making passengers happier, airports that deliver a greater experience stand to benefit from:

  • Greater Passenger Loyalty
    Many passengers have a choice of airports while charting out their itinerary. Passengers who are frazzled by wait times at security screening points are less satisfied with the overall experience. This can reduce customer loyalty and cause passengers to avoid the airport, switching to another airport or opting to choose another mode of transport altogether. Passenger preferences also impact airline operations, as airlines may choose not to operate from airports with low traffic. By the same token, airports that exceed customer’s expectations will gain a competitive edge.
  • Higher Airport Revenues
    Time spent in various queues and repeatedly undergoing document checks also decreases passenger satisfaction and gives passengers less time to shop and eat in the airport terminal. Research found that relaxed and satisfied passengers regularly spend up to €0.20 per minute at airport concessions after passing through security. However, this spending was reduced by as much as 30% after a delay of just 10 extra minutes at security.
  • The Numbers Game
    Recent IATA research has found that passenger numbers could double to 8.2 billion by 2037. Airports need to scale to keep pace with this increasing traffic while ensuring safe, secure operations and a smooth passenger experience or deal with unhappy travelers. Also, without effective security systems and processes in place, airports might end up losing out on the opportunities that this tremendous growth in the air travel industry presents.

Airports can no longer consider security alone if it comes at the expense of the passenger experience. As passenger expectations of the customer experience continue to rise, airports must find ways to better balance safe and reliable travel and providing the experience customers expect. The reward for this effort is worth it: a great passenger experience, delighted travelers and more opportunity for growth.

For more details on how you can ensure passenger and airport security without impacting passenger experience, please visit our page Smart and Secure Airports for the Modern Traveler

Tags-   Airport security Passenger Experience Passenger Security Security

About The Author

Ajay Prabhakar

Ajay Prabhakar is the Industry Manager and SME for Airports Passenger Facilitation in Unisys Asia-Pacific. He is responsible for developing new solutions for passengers as well as pre-sales and marketing for the Unisys Airports Solutions.