Ongoing efforts to streamline the passenger experience have seen Europe’s airports invest in a raft of new technologies and digital channels in recent months. Ryan Ghee provides a round-up.
AirPortr’s vision for ‘seamless end-to-end bag-free travel’
With the constant development of technology, the airport journey has become faster than ever. Self-service technologies and mobile devices have transformed the check-in process. Faster methods to hand over luggage, such as self-service bag drop, however, haven’t addressed the “much-needed separation of bag from passenger”, according to Paul Mewett, Executive Vice President, Portr.
The ‘AirPortr + Bag Check-In’ service is a virtual bag drop at the passenger’s doorstep, enabling them to travel bag-free to their destination airport. Customers pre-book a one-hour time slot for AirPortr to come to their home, office or hotel to check-in their luggage. Numerous security checks are performed during the handling process, and passengers can track their luggage.
“AirPortr’s product is a real paradigm shift and allows users to travel bag-free from their doorstep to the final destination carousel, optimising their time and overall experience,” Mewett explains.
Currently, ‘AirPortr + Bag Check-In’ is available for British Airways flights departing from Heathrow, Gatwick and London City airports, and has so far been well-received by passengers.
“The immediate and most visible impact is less passengers having to queue for bag drop when they arrive at the terminal,” Mewett adds. “In terms of physical differences to the airport landscape, the reduced need for check-in and bag drop desks has the potential to change the entire layout of the airport, leaving more space for retail and leisure opportunities for passengers. From a security perspective, this process de-centralises check-in and, as it scales, will eliminate crowds gathering in non-secure areas.”
The vision is to facilitate seamless end-to-end bag-free travel, so along with growing the business geographically, the natural progression is to deliver the bag from the arriving carousel, so the customer can enjoy the same benefits at both ends of the journey.
Helsinki Airport offers F&B pre-ordering via app
Helsinki Airport has launched a new service called ‘ToGo’, which allows passengers to order food & beverage items in advance, and then collect them at dedicated pick-up points. Orders and payment can be made via the airport’s mobile app.
Four outlets – Tapio Café, Upper Crust, Grab & Fly and 60° Bar & Brewery – are participating in the service at present. According to Elena Stenholm, Finavia’s Commercial Director, more F&B outlets will be added during 2017.
Stenholm added: “People want their everyday life to be easier. Online stores and various food pick-up and delivery services have become more common in recent years. Now you can order food for your flight conveniently from your home sofa, and the ready packed items can be picked up at the pick-up point without needing to queue.”
Passengers flying from Helsinki Airport can also order Helsinki Duty Free products through the online ‘Reserve & Collect’ service. These pre-ordered items can also be collected at pick-up points in the airport.
Frankfurt Airport launches Messenger bot and Twitter flight info service
Frankfurt Airport has continued its investment in digital services with the development of a Facebook Messenger bot and a Twitter-based flight information tool.
The Messenger bot, called FRAnky, can communicate with passengers in German and English. Powered by artificial intelligence, it can provide answers to passengers’ questions, provide flight updates, and offer information on airport restaurants, shops, services and facilities. If the bot can’t provide an answer to a question it will direct the user to the contact information page or the Fraport Communication Centre.
In addition to the new chat bot, passengers flying from Frankfurt Airport can now make use of a flight information service on Twitter. Travellers can use a dedicated handle – @FRA_FlightInfo – to request real-time flight status updates.
London City Airport offers lounge access for all
London City Airport has opened a new Business Lounge, which is open to all passengers, regardless of airline or class of travel. The lounge is located in the newly transformed area of the airport’s Private Jet Centre, which is accessible from the main terminal via a private taxi shuttle. Travellers can pay £35 (€40) for entry.
The stylish interior includes hand-made furniture, a flat screen TV, and charging points for personal electronic devices. High-speed Wi-Fi access is also included in the entry price, while guests can enjoy a selection of food and drinks. Shower facilities are also available, along with a meeting room, which can be hired.
Chris Clayton, London City Airport’s Jet Centre Customer Service Manager, said: “London City Airport’s new Business Lounge is the perfect option for passengers who want first-class hospitality, comfort and privacy. Our priority is our passengers and the team will always go the extra mile to ensure they have what they need to keep their airport experience memorable and stress-free.”
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol announces cooperation with FLIO
In a first-time agreement between an airport and FLIO, it has been announced that the FLIO app is to be officially adopted and supported by Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.
The airport’s media division will sell advertising in FLIO and also market the app to its passengers, sharing in revenues from the sale of Schiphol’s retail and other commercial services when they are generated through FLIO.
“We are delighted to be able to announce this official tie-up with Amsterdam Airport Schiphol,” says Stephan Uhrenbacher, a founder and CEO of FLIO. “We will be working with one of the most digital of all airports in Europe to jointly develop a digital channel to reach their passengers. Their decision to officially recognise FLIO and to enter into a formal commercial agreement creates great opportunities for both of us, and a very important demonstration of how FLIO can be a collaborative asset for all airports.”
Arthur de Groot, Sales Director, Schiphol Media, adds: “This agreement offers Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and its brand partners yet another opportunity to interact with our passengers in a very relevant way, thus improving the passenger experience at the airport.”
FLIO is a global airport app, aiming to offer travellers a one-stop source for ‘all things airport’, providing easy access to public WiFi, real-time departures and arrivals information, and hints and tips. It also allows users to find an airport’s shopping and food & beverage services, as well as commercial services such as VIP lounges, fast track security and transportation.