Air Travel; Experience is Everything

Source: Linkedin

As the holiday season is around the corner, airports are experiencing the busiest period of their operation. Similarly, airlines are preparing to rip off passengers and maximizing their revenue through overweight baggage charges, credit card fees, and upselling and cross-selling other services. On top, they make sure passengers are going to experience high cost, inconvenience, and emotional distress by overbooking flights, separating you from your spouse or partner, and destroyed or lost luggage. Their mission is: to burn your holiday travel experience like a jet fuel!In my recent trip with Singapore Airlines, I experienced a canceled flight and poor communication making me think if airlines really understand the basic meaning of customer experience. Prior to flight time, there was no communication via e-mail or SMS about the delay neither any announcement to inform the waiting passengers at the boarding gate that the flight is delayed. The fact is the airline seems not to have a SOP for delayed or canceled flights. Keeping passengers waiting and hoping they will not question is foolish. It is also naive to think that always-connected passengers will not start posting on social medias about their experience. So why Singapore Airlines being in operation for more than 40 years failed to follow the standard communication procedure? Worse, not providing a decent accommodation for foreign passengers and forcing them to leave the airport even though they have no valid visa to enter!Today’s passenger have a different view on the airport and travel experience. Air travel is no longer about flying from point A to point B but providing a frictionless and smooth transitions between various legs of passenger’s trips. Passengers want to be informed with relevant information and real-time updates make a huge difference. To make it easy for airlines the following is the list of what passengers want and expect from them:

  • Convenience
  • Personalization
  • Empowerment
  • Choice
  • Seamless
  • And emotional support when needed

Pre-travel experience is as important as flight experience. Passengers want to complete as many processes as possible before leaving home. However, they don’t want to download a new app for every airport and airline they travel with. Check-in and security still are the number 1 pain point for air travel passengers. There is no consistency in air travel security and each airport follows a different procedure. I have personally lost several Zippo lighters just because every airport has different rules and regulations and no one dares to question. Personalized messaging will empower passengers to arrive at the gate at the right time, reducing queues. In addition, the gate room is more than just a holding space, the in-flight experience starts at the gate.

Airlines must understand that a simple in-flight real-time baggage update will take away uncertainty if the luggage has been loaded into the airplane. Or if the bag has been misrouted, passengers should be informed in-flight without wasting time waiting for the bag. The future travel experience will be co-created by all stakeholders and adopting the change is crucial for airlines in order to survive and this is about changing mindsets and cultures.

Happy holiday and safe traveling.

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