In an era where customer service can make or break an airport’s reputation, the Internet of Things provides a strategy for success. Flight delays alone will cost commercial aviation an anticipated $20 billion by 2020, and aviation must find ways to make up for these losses. “Smart airports” that employ the latest IoT technology can radically improve the passenger experience while saving airports money over time, providing a welcoming environment for weary travelers, and improving customer loyalty.
What makes the smart airport experience so powerful? A single cellular network links each IoT device to create a digital map of the airport with continually updated, real-time metrics. Passengers can access this information through a simple app while the airport can leverage the data to identify services ripe for improvement, all leading to cost savings and happier customers. Applications for Internet of Things across smart airports are limitless, but several staple examples stick out as major game changers, improving both the passenger experience and operational efficiency.
Quick and Easy Airport Navigation with IoT Beacons
From the moment passengers enter the airport to the time they board a plane, their experience is dictated by lines and waiting, with travel advisors still encouraging passengers to arrive at their airport no later than two hours before a flight. What can Internet of Things do to ease customer frustrations with this process?
Digital beacons strategically placed throughout the airport can provide real-time updates for everything from parking availability to airport shuttle schedules and restaurant table availability. No longer will tired passengers struggle to find their way around an airport, racing from terminal to terminal to find their flight. Instead, smart airports seamlessly can guide passengers from check-in to take-off with digital beacon-linked maps for easier navigation and wait time updates through SMS notifications. Airports even can offer a curated shopping and dining experience within the airport with Internet of Things beacons prompting passengers about nearby stores and restaurants.
The smart airport navigation experience not only frees up passengers’ time for rest and relaxation by eliminating confusion and wait time, but it also encourages passengers to spend more time before take-off on shopping, eating, or leveraging other services at the airport, thereby generating greater revenue for the airport itself.
IoT Luggage Tracking and Management Solutions
Lost luggage costs commercial aviation up to $3,300 per passenger for domestic flights and up to $1,742 for international flights and also can be a major deterrent for flyers. Individual luggage tracking, however, has become inexpensive and feasible with simple Internet of Things beacons that can connect to an airport’s cellular network to provide live information about baggage location ─ from bag check-in to cargo-hold. Each point the journey now acts as a check for passengers tracking their items. Internet of Things beacon and RFID tag technology also comes in handy for airlines when tracking down lost items. This makes the cargo close-out process simpler, in turn translating to fewer lost bags and less money spent on passenger reimbursement.
Mitigating Flight Delays with Networked Internet of Things Weather Monitoring
From June 2015 to June 2016, more than one million flight delays translated to 64 million minutes in added wait time for passengers. The massive expense of these delays can be addressed through Internet of Things implementation, with strategies for weather-related delays available 24/7.
Airports now can monitor conditions for takeoff, landing, and approach by linking simple weather monitor beacons at each runway to the airport’s larger network. Runway-specific monitoring is particularly useful during icy weather and flash floods as conditions may vary from strip to strip, allowing airports to make safer decisions without grounding all activity. Networked monitoring also provides accurate and timely information for passenger-targeted apps as well, allowing passengers to better understand the justification for stoppages or delays in their journey.
Early adoption of smart airport Internet of Things technologies create a higher standard for customer care and overall performance. Linking each device around an airport through a robust Internet of Things cellular network allows the airport to conduct in-depth data collection and performance tracking for improved operations and provides “at a glance” reporting and statistical summaries for airport management.