A new study released by Amadeus examines the frustrations that travelers have with today's airport experience and how airports are expected to evolve between now and 2025. The study provides a fairly comprehensive look at what passengers dislike most about the airport experience and what they would like to change. The research, which Amadeus conducted with Fast Future Research, identifies a "stress-free airport experience" as the number one priority for travelers. Seventy-two percent of 838 global respondents believe that the journey from check-in to boarding is currently inefficient while 69 percent would like to see improvements in security processes.
Travelers identified a number of airport processes that could be improved through technology enhancements. Nearly two-thirds of travelers (63 percent) would like to be able to navigate the entire airport experience using their mobile phones. Meanwhile, 59 percent of respondents would like to be able to use their frequent flyer cards as permanent boarding passes and make use of electronic bag tags (57 percent).
Travelers in the study also made clear that they want their improvement ideas to be heard (69 percent) and to be able to provide real-time feedback (53 percent) to various suppliers in the airport ecosystem.
The Amadeus study, which also draws on 70-plus qualitative interviews with industry experts from airports, airlines, and suppliers, also maps how airports will reinvent themselves in coming years. New business models for airports may include:
- The mini-city: A complex of retail, entertainment, dining, work places, and accommodations in which an airport may even grow its own food and generate its own energy on site.
- The city extension: The airport would be tightly integrated with the local city, reflecting the local culture, history, and cuisine.
- The shopping mall: Under this scenario, there would be shopping, leisure, and entertainment facilities on par with and even ahead of those found in other destinations. Fifteen percent of travelers say they expect this model to become prevalent by 2025.
- The walkway concept: In this setting, many current airport processes are performed remotely by the passenger, at home or in a separate virtual terminal.
- The bus station venue: This would represent a no frills atmosphere where speed and efficiency are key.
We're already seeing components for some of these airport models beginning to emerge. Although different people want different things from their airport experiences, it makes sense that most travelers would cite fewer hassles during check-in, security, and boarding as their top priority. Still, there are plenty of opportunities for airports of all sizes to enrich the overall customer experience, including improvements to retail and dining.
Where do you see the airport of the future headed? What matters most to you in the airport experience as either a business or leisure traveler?