How COVID-19 is challenging orthodoxies in airport customer experience
COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on the aviation industry, with global flights down by nearly 80 percent as of early April 2020. Airports have already made major operational changes like limiting concessions hours, consolidating terminals and security screening operations, implementing new health and safety measures, and increasing cleaning schedules, among others. Passengers are placing greater emphasis on airport cleanliness and expressing a reluctance to engage in processes that require physical touch.
The pandemic is paving the way for a new normal where airports will need to challenge traditional orthodoxies in how they serve their customers and meet the needs of their employees. Airports must instill confidence in both business and leisure travelers while enabling employees to feel safe and comfortable returning to work.
In this paper, Deloitte examines five existing orthodoxies in the airport experience that are challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Passenger processing: It’s not just about speed. Facility cleanliness will likely be top of mind for travelers, from check-in and security to boarding their flight.
- Self-service: No touch may be the new priority for self-service kiosks and other passenger-facing technologies. A diverse range of digitally-enabled technologies offer new opportunities for passenger interaction.
- Biometric enablement: Airports across the globe have grappled with rolling out biometric passenger processing technologies in the wake of growing privacy concerns. COVID-19 may accelerate the case for those biometric technologies that eliminate document handling.
- Employee satisfaction: Health and safety initiatives that emphasize keeping airport employees safe will likely take on elevated importance in driving employee satisfaction.
- Flexibility in service delivery: Airports are being challenged to align passenger-facing services with shifting and unpredictable passenger loads, forcing airports to be creative and flexible.