Towards passenger utopia – one bag at a time

As a frequent traveller my ideal airport experience would be to get through the check-in process and on my flight in twenty minutes.

Since we don’t yet live in utopia I know that this is not currently a realistic goal. Working in the industry I know that the differing objectives of the passenger, airline, airport and ground handler can result in an uncomfortable dichotomy for all stakeholders in trying to achieve efficiency.

Bag drop can be a source of time saving or frustration and I often get asked which baggage drop-off process is the most efficient and how to select the best approach. As usual in our industry buzzwords and acronyms abound. 1-step, 2-step, hybrid, 1-stop and many more. I often wonder if we are talking about the same thing when using these terms?

What makes a bag drop efficient?

Which efficiency gets top priority in a busy airport?  An airport’s view is different from the airline’s view which is again different from the ground handler’s view and importantly from the passenger view. We probably all agree the passenger expectations trump the others – they want seamless flow through the airport.

What is seamless flow?

For the passenger it is quite simple – they want to walk through the airport and onto their flight without having to stop for numerous processes along the way.  Ideally, as in my utopian world, that would mean arriving at the airport 20 minutes before the flight and be on board the plane in time – just like getting onto a train or bus.

The reality is somewhat different, the passengers route to the airport could be delayed, meaning missed flights. The consequences are higher than on a train or bus as they couldn’t just hop on the next one in fifteen minutes. So we tend to arrive early for our flights and expect to drop our bags and head airside to relax. This scenario works well for the airport as the relaxed passenger is likely to spend their money on ancillary services.

In contrast, efficiency looks different for the airlines and ground handlers, who aim to process passengers at the lowest possible cost. Passengers arriving too early may have to wait landside until the right staff become available to process their baggage. Early bag storage may be limited at an airport – so bags can only be accepted at a stipulated time before the flight departs, frustrating the passenger in the process.

Keep it simple

The “simple” concept of efficiency in bag drop could be to accept the bags in a timely and hassle-free manner – without the need for passengers to queue up.

Efficiency could even mean baggage could be dropped off at home or on arrival at the airport (maybe against an additional fee for the service).

1-step, 2-step, 1.5-step becomes secondary and irrelevant for the passenger, but highly relevant for operations and cost savings. Behind the scenes, the most important of any of these steps is how good the first read rate of any automated baggage acceptance system is.  The higher the better as this ensures no passenger frustration with lengthily bag drop queues, lost or delayed baggage and maximises the throughput for the aviation partners.

Finding utopia

At Elenium we have been focusing on the highest first time read rate of the baggage information at bag drop and ensuring that we get the fastest bag drop performance using various technologies. We use sophisticated camera systems , data streaming and data anticipation. This paired with the customized process setup, passenger guidance and staff training will result in efficiency for the passenger.

So while we haven’t quite achieved passenger utopia yet, our technology will help to make the process more seamless and pleasant for the passenger while ensuring the best outcomes for airlines, airports and ground handlers.

Read more about our bag drop solutions

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