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Surveys gauge users’ satisfaction with airports

Flyers and airlines weigh in on technology, security, and renovations. 

August 31, 2015 |

Eric Salard via Flickr

As air travel becomes more competitive, airports are seeking reconnaissance about their passengers’ satisfaction levels. Some revealing research has been released in recent months. Here’s a sampling:

• In the midst of a $1 billion renovation and modernization, Tampa International Airport has been surveying thousands of customers about the impact of construction on their flying experience. Surprisingly few have complained.

When passengers log onto the airport’s free WiFi service, they are asked to fill out online questionnaires about the construction. According to a news story posted on the Tampa Bay Times|Tampa Tribune’s website in late June, the survey generates about 1,000 responses a day.

When the airport started doing roadway work, 60% of those surveyed said they noticed it, but only 2.7% said they were “impacted.” When the airport shut down one train to two airsides, only 1.7% said they were negatively impacted.

The airport has also stationed 22 customer service reps around its main terminal to help travelers find where they’re going if detours are necessary.

• Travel Leaders Group, the country’s largest travel agency company, recently polled nearly 3,400 Americans about their attitudes toward airport security. Among the respondents, 88.4% said they were either “satisfied” with or “neutral” about the state of security, up from 87.5% last year.

TSA Pre-Check may have something to do with these positive attitudes. When asked if they had experienced expedited screening at an airport in the previous 12 months, 53.1% answered affirmatively, compared to 60% who said no in 2014. About one-seventh of respondents (14.4%) said they use TSA Pre-Check “all the time,” versus 7.6% in 2014. And 26.1% say it reduced waiting times for screening, versus 17.6% in 2014.

• Architectural/engineering firm HNTB conducted a national air travel survey last November to gauge how passengers think technology might affect their travel experience. Nearly half (46%) of the 1,031 respondents said they expect advancements in security and technology over the next 5-10 years would alter how quickly they got through airports. Another 41% would like to see luggage with GPS-enabled tags for tracking purposes, while 32% want the ability to tag their bags themselves. Three of 10 respondents are looking forward to mobile apps that would allow them to pre-order in-flight food or drinks.

• In its 2015 Airline IT Trends Survey, SITA, a communications systems provider, found that 86% of airline carriers expect the Internet of Things to deliver benefits within the next three years, and 37% are budgeting with that in mind, with investments targeting check-in, bag drop, and luggage retrieval.

But so-called beacon technology, which uses sensors to track consumer actions, hasn’t caught on yet in the aviation sector. The SITA survey found that only 9% of airlines are using or testing beacons, although 44% plan to use beacons at bag drop areas, and 43% at baggage claim corrals.

The poll also found that 94% of airlines surveyed are investing in business intelligence. Another 74% are planning major investment programs by 2018.


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