July 12, 2023

Four Ways AI is Improving the Airport Experience

The popularity of AI has rapidly grown, with the AI market is projected to be worth $90 billion by 2025,
fueled by organizations using AI technology to improve user experiences, drive efficiencies and boost productivity.

With passenger numbers returning to pre-pandemic levels, offering a frictionless experience at every stage of the passenger journey is at the forefront of airports’ priorities as they make plans for the future. But the manual processes still relied on by airports in a number of areas, from check-in and boarding to security, make it difficult to drive operational efficiencies and spot patterns that would allow them to make lasting improvements to the passenger experience.

Many are looking at how new technologies could support them to deliver this. And AI is one that airports – like many other industries – are now looking at more seriously. Over the past few years, the popularity of AI has rapidly grown, with the AI market is projected to be worth $90 billion by 2025, fueled by organizations using AI technology to improve user experiences, drive efficiencies and boost productivity.

But what does this look like in practice? Here are four ways AI is improving the airport experience today.

Passenger Flow Management

Managing passenger flow is a vital part of effective airport management. Ensuring that it is as frictionless as possible, especially during peak times, not only improves the operational efficiency of an airport, but also the passenger experience. Computer vision has been hailed as a game-changing innovation for passenger flow monitoring. For the first time, airports can accurately track passengers from arrival, through security and duty-free, to boarding an aircraft.

Using computer vision-powered solutions, operations teams can respond to issues in real-time and identify patterns that can create improvements in the long term. For example, if there are extended wait times at check-in or security areas, teams can be quickly alerted to intervene and deploy additional resources. And if there is a specific pattern for when these security bottlenecks occur, it allows the airport operations team to identify the trend and increase capacity in the future.

Virtual Queuing

The use of facial biometrics is enabling many passengers to rapidly increase the speed at which they pass through airport security by allowing them to check in from home – by comparing the picture on their passport against a live picture of their face - and then book a slot for security screening. This not only improves passenger satisfaction, but critically enables them to pass into the concession area faster. With retail concessions making up the greater source of NAR (non-aeronautical revenue) and contributing over 30% to US airports’ NAR revenue, this presents a significant opportunity to get passengers to spend more time in these “runway malls”.

Biometric Boarding

Facial biometric technology is now also being used in place of air stewards to manually check boarding passes and improve the speed of boarding. Using AI, biometric facial boarding authenticates the identity of passengers, which makes the airport journey smoother, and actually confirms the identity of passengers more accurately than manual methods. When a passenger gets to a biometric checkpoint, the AI facial recognition technology can identify a passenger’s face by comparing it to their passport photo, which was previously scanned.

This removes the need to display passports and boarding passes multiple times while at the airport, which can often be a cumbersome process for passengers journeying through the airport. Airports currently gather facial biometrics of passengers and scan their boarding passes before entering security, but some airports are taking this step further by removing the need for passengers to show their boarding pass and passport at the airport at all. Instead, passengers will be asked to pre-register their biometric information before their flight, with automated touchpoints verifying their identity as they move through the airport.

AI Bag Scanning

Going through security is the most important part of an airport journey, but it can also be a frustrating experience for passengers. From long queues, to bag checks by airport staff, this can leave less time for passengers to shop at duty free stores, which impacts an airport’s revenue. AI bag scanninggained popularity across a number of airports in Europe, including Schiphol in Amsterdam, which have recently trialed AI bag scanning as part of their security process.

AI bag scanners are trained to recognize a range of prohibited items quickly and accurately by plugging into existing X-ray and CT systems. It speeds up the security process by reducing the time spent removing items from bags, without compromising on accuracy and safety. Furthermore, it is not subject to the common errors that can occur with manual security processes during busy periods. It also helps relieve team members from what is traditionally a resource-heavy activity, so they can be deployed to other areas of the airport where they may be needed more.

What’s Next for Airports?

Airports are well on the road to recovery after years of uncertainty due to the pandemic. But now more than ever, it is vital that airport leaders consider new ways to enhance their operations and the passenger experience by embracing new advanced technologies. AI technology could be the answer for airports looking to make widespread positive improvements for their people and passengers, paving the way for a seamless airport experience and bringing airports into the future.

Copyright 2023 Endeavor Business Media, LLC. All rights reserved. From https://www.aviationpros.com. By George Richardson, Co-Founder and CEO of AeroCloud.

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