Nine organisations were last night recognised for their outstanding efforts to improve the passenger experience at the 3rd Future Travel Experience Awards, which were presented at Future Travel Experience Global 2013 in Las Vegas.
The Future Travel Experience Awards are presented annually at the Future Travel Experience Global event. The Awards celebrate the outstanding efforts of organisations that have gone the extra mile to improve the passenger experience. Presented to the winners in the presence of their industry peers at the Gala Evening, the Awards recognise the most innovative, ambitious and effective initiatives and organisations. The winners are chosen through consultation with a panel of industry experts.
Best Check-in Initiative: Iberia
Iberia was presented with the ‘Best Check-in Initiative’ award for its MyBagTag home-printed bag tag. MyBagTag allows passengers to print their bag tags at home, along with their boarding pass. Passengers then have to simply attach the tags and deposit their bag at a dedicated counter upon arrival at the airport, removing the need to check baggage in with an airline agent and simplifying the airport experience. Iberia is the first airline to launch home-printed bag tags permanently and plans to roll the service out across its entire network.
Best Baggage Initiative: British Airways
British Airways was awarded the ‘Best Baggage Initiative’ for its development and ongoing trial of permanent electronic bag tags. The permanent bag tag removes the need for paper bag tags to be printed for every journey. Once checked in, the passenger can synchronize their smartphone with the electronic tag, which automatically updates with a unique barcode containing their flight details and the bag’s destination. British Airways has already successfully undertaken operational trials of the permanent electronic bag tag in a live airport environment and will soon be undertaking passenger trials.
Best Passenger Assistance Initiatives: Dubai Airports
Dubai Airports was presented with the ‘Best Passenger Assistance Initiatives’ award for its dedication to simplifying the airport experience across a number of key passenger touch points. Among the initiatives that have been implemented at Dubai International Airport are multi-lingual virtual assistants, a simplified wayfinding system across all terminals, and interactive Information Zones offering information on airport facilities and directions to boarding gates. Dubai International Airport is also the first airport in the world to offer direct access to the boarding gate from First and Business Class lounges in the A380-dedicated Concourse A.
Best Airport Security Experience: Narita International Airport
Narita International Airport received the ‘Best Airport Security Experience’ accolade for its short queuing times, consistently high level of customer service and its willingness to trial non-stop biometric e-gates at the entrance to the security search area. The innovative gates make use of facial recognition technology to allow passengers to progress to the security checkpoint without having to stop, therefore removing the manual document check by a human agent.
Best Experience at the Gate: Los Angeles World Airports
Los Angeles World Airports was recognised with the ‘Best Experience at the Gate’ award for the state-of-the-art boarding gates at the new Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport, which boasts a unique new design and a passenger-friendly ambience. The gates are equipped with electrical sockets and USB ports, which passengers can use to charge up their laptops, tablets and mobile phones. Free Wi-Fi is also available. Each of the gates is installed with a laser-based visual guidance docking system and computerised passenger boarding bridges, automating operations between the terminal and the aircraft doors and therefore reducing the chance of delays.
Best ‘Up in the Air’ Experience: Emirates
Emirates was presented with the first ever ‘Best ‘Up in the Air’ Experience’ award for its dedication to providing the best possible in-flight experience. The ‘ice’ in-flight entertainment system is among the most comprehensive in the industry with more than 1,500 channels, while live television and Wi-Fi is also available onboard select Boeing 777s. As well as having access to movies, audio and games via the ice system, passengers can view live footage from external aircraft cameras and also have access to in-seat phones. Adjustable lighting has been installed to help combat jetlag, while Business and First Class passengers can make use of in-seat power supplies, a built-in mini bar, in-flight shower facilities and an onboard lounge.
Best Immigration Initiative: Chicago O’Hare International Airport
Chicago O’Hare International Airport was awarded ‘Best Immigration Initiative’ for taking the lead on the implementation of automated passport control kiosks to reduce waiting times at the immigration checkpoint. Recognising the fact that budget sequestration was likely to cause further delays at immigration, the airport led the investment in 32 kiosks, which were developed by Vancouver Airport Authority in close collaboration with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. In the 40 days after the automated passport control kiosks were installed, the average wait time at passport control in Terminal 5 was reduced by 33%, the number of passengers waiting over 60 minutes dropped by 58% and the number of missed connections fell by 31%.
Best Arrivals Experience: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport was awarded the ‘Best Arrivals Experience’ in recognition of its ‘Experience the City of Music’ initiative, which goes the extra mile to provide a warm welcome and ensure the airport reflects the destination itself. In addition to live bands performing in the terminal, the airport has installed music-related exhibitions, music from the likes of Ray Charles and Nirvana is played on the overhead speakers, famous artists read public announcements and music videos are featured on the baggage reclaim monitors.
Best Use of Mobile Technology: Japan Airlines
Japan Airlines was recognised with the ‘Best Use of Mobile Technology’ award for its industry-leading approach to utilising mobile technology for the benefit of the passenger. Travellers can use their smartphone to search for flights, book and purchase tickets, access the security checkpoint, download and use shopping coupons, and board their flight using NFC boarding passes. A number of other functions have also been developed by Japan Airlines for iOS and Android devices, including apps that allow passengers to tour terminal buildings in three-dimensional augmented reality, view live video feeds from airports to check the weather, view live queues at security lanes to assess waiting times, and access details on local events that may be of interest.
The next FTE Global Awards will take place at Future Travel Experience Global 2014 to be hosted by McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay next September 24-26.