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Hi-tech investment can eliminate security stress

Posted 9 January 2018 · Add Comment

Emirates Airline president, Sir Tim Clark, explains to Steve Nichols why airports must make massive investments if they want to make passengers’ lives more bearable.

Emirates Airline president, Sir Tim Clark, believes many airports around the world are simply not up to standard and has called for much wider use of technology to improve the passenger experience.
Speaking at the 2017 Airline Passenger Experience Conference in Long Beach, California, Clark said most passengers found the whole experience stressful, pushing up their metabolic rates enormously.
“That’s why passengers are so hungry by the time they’ve got through check-in and security,” he said. “Why do you think so much food is sold and consumed in airports, even though people have probably only just had their breakfast?”
Clark said future airport design was the biggest single constraint to what Emirates wanted to do.
Drawing on the airline’s experience of the 157 destinations to which it flies, he said: “Airports today, with rare exceptions, are just not up to standard – you have congestion at the kerb side, check-in, immigration, security and then the departure lounge.
“It’s not a pleasant experience at all – but it doesn’t have to be that way.”
Clark said technology could make the whole process better right now, if only airports would adopt it.
“Biometrics means that you should be able to check-in at home and that’s it. You would be recognised as you walked in the airport, either by face recognition or your fingerprints, and tracked all the way through your journey.
“Technology allows you to deal with all the touchpoints. No more taking your jacket and shoes off as you pass through security. There are scanners that can sniff and detect particles at the atomic level, so why don’t we use them?
“There should be no need for multiple checkpoints either. And, if you do need to be stopped and checked, a robot could do it instead of a human.
“Believe me, this is all technologically possible today. Whizz people through the system faster and easier and they then have more time to spend their money before they get on the aircraft,” he joked.
He said that most airports were physically constrained in terms of their available space. Getting rid of masses of check-in decks and security points would free up space to make more room for passengers – and make more space for shopping and food outlets.
“The beauty is you have lots of people captive and if you don’t maximise the value of those people you are nuts, whether that be through food and drink or shopping,” he said.
“Currently, it is a dreadful experience. If you want to create more value for people, organisations just have to bite the bullet.
“In the Emirates we do as much as we can, certainly with our premium passengers, but many airports need to do more and spend more.”
And, he said, data technology was letting Emirates have an even greater insight into its passengers’ wants and needs. He said technology provided the company with answers and allowed it to be much smarter about what it could do.
“We can now see in real-time what seats are the most popular and why. For example, a lot of our customers prefer seats near the galley or the toilets. These data points mean we can price seats accordingly and offer add-ons and upgrades that suit them.
“The business-to-consumer environment also allows us to play with that a lot more. You can present passengers with options and products that are meaningful to them.
“In the past, we never had this level of market analysis in real-time. Back in the 80s we had a degree of stability. But technology has completely up-ended that.
“The perception and drivers that humans have are changing. And the airline world has to change with them,” he added.
Clark also said that technology had a part to play in the air too.
“Before too long we will have aircraft with no windows. Composite fuselages will be lighter and more fuel efficient, meaning we’ll be able to fly higher and faster than ever,” he said.
“But that doesn’t mean passengers won’t be able to see out of the aircraft. We will have screens across the inside of the cabin that will show them what the outside view looks like. Or we can project any other images we want.
“The trick is make sure you are brave enough to take those kind of technological decisions,” Clark concluded.

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