Altitude22: Shift from legacy processes promises Apple store-style airport experience

Altitude22: Shift from legacy processes promises Apple store-style airport experience

Speakers from Copenhagen Airports and British Airways spoke at Amadeus' airline executives summit about the evolving customer service airports are looking to deliver with modern technology

Moving away from legacy technology in airports promises a queue-less future and Apple store style of customer experience, the Amadeus Altitude 22 summit was told.

Kenneth Lindegaard, chief information officer at Copenhagen Airports, said the operator said it is open to working with airlines on how to modernise use its terminal facilities.

He said established systems have required airports workers to be located at fixed desks but that it was keen to “break out of traditional ways of working”.

Lindegaard likened the potential future to the sort of experience Apple offers customers in its stores where they get customer experience but no queues.

“We have fixed desks and we have had them for years. That’s how the airlines wanted to operate. We would love to have that conversation about how we use the terminal area differently.

“Moving to cloud [technology] offers the opportunity to have much more collaboration between airlines, to look at the data silos we have had historically.

“We want to keep up with the demands we have from our customers. We would like to give them a better experience.

“But we do not know who the passenger is, we just provide the infrastructure, so we would love to work together to improve that journey.”

Will Rumsey, British Airways automation and technology manager – airport, said the carrier was back to 2019 levels in terms of capacity.

But he said the airline was now looking to adapt processes to changing customer behaviour following COPVID that has seen them do more to pre-prepare to transit through the airport.

“Behaviour, in terms of the way we can get our customers through the airport, is changing really quickly. With legacy technology it’s difficult to change that to keep up with trends.”

Rumsey said BA wants to use airport infrastructure for more value-add opportunities and services to improve customer service and to get its staff out from behind their “legacy desks”.

“We want to get people out from behind their desks to drive that experience and engage with our customers. It’s a completely different interaction now with customers which is difficult to change quickly,” he said.

Lindegaard said sharing of information with airlines would mean travellers whose luggage has not come with them could be informed before waiting for it at the carousel.

Rumsey agreed, saying there was non-sensitive information that can be shared so that a customer could be sent updates and alerts via onboard wi-fi.

“Let’s tell the customer if their bag has not travelled with them before they arrive at the airport. Let’s move away from the queue, and put them in a virtual queue.

“Let’s give them the basic information and send them off to relax and we will push information to them at the right time.”

Rumsey said customers should be able to choose their preferred channel of communication while airport technology infrastructure enables services like processing baggage claims and voucher redemption.

“It’s about delivering on that [customer] promise. Inform them of the next steps. Amazon do it so well, and there are other companies that do it well. We just need to catch up.”