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Virtual Airport Queuing: Streamlining Passenger Experience and Operations

21 Sep 2023
Sarah Marks

We’ve all been there — standing in seemingly endless queues at the airport, counting the minutes, and wishing we could fast-track through security. A global survey of 7,299 passengers echoes this sentiment, revealing that 45% of travellers prioritise faster security checks. Additionally, nearly half of the travellers flying for leisure or family visits believe their airport experience would significantly improve if only they could breeze through the queues quicker.

The problem isn’t just about comfort; it’s also about cost. The ACI reports that a mere 1% increase in global passenger satisfaction can lead to a growth of 1.5% in non-aeronautical revenues. Traditional queuing systems, on the other hand, lead to operational inefficiencies and contribute to passenger dissatisfaction.

So what’s the solution? Enter virtual queuing.

What is a virtual queue?

A virtual queue — also known as a digital queue or mobile queue — uses technology to organise and manage queues or lines in various settings, including airports. Passengers can pre-book their place in the queue for various airport services and get alerted when it’s their turn so they don’t have to stand in physical queues.

It’s applicable to multiple touchpoints: check-in, baggage drop, security, boarding, and even retail spaces within the airport. Essentially, it can be employed in any area of an airport where queues or lines typically exist.

How does virtual queuing work?

Passengers use a website or mobile app to input their flight number and book a time slot for the service they need. When it’s their turn, a notification system alerts their phone so they can proceed to the area and complete that portion of their journey. Users can receive updates regarding their wait time through SMS notifications or push notifications on the mobile app, ensuring that they are kept informed about their place in the queue. Virtual queuing technology relies on real-time data and analytics to manage queues and ensure that people are served in a timely and efficient manner.

What are the benefits of virtual queuing?

Enhanced passenger experience

Navigating through an airport can often be a stressful experience, punctuated by long waits and uncertainty. With features designed to reduce waiting times, offer real-time updates, and allow for efficient use of time, virtual queuing serves as a game-changer for the passenger experience.

  • Reduced wait times: Passengers don’t have to wait in long physical queues, reducing their wait time and making the airport experience less stressful.
  • Real-time updates: Virtual queuing gives passengers real-time updates on their mobile devices, letting them know when it’s their turn and what they need to do next. This can reduce confusion and make the process more transparent, which can lead to a better overall experience.
  • Efficient use of time: Virtual queuing allows passengers to make better use of their time at the airport. Instead of waiting in line, they can explore the airport, shop, or grab a bite to eat. This can lead to a more enjoyable and productive experience.
  • Enhanced safety measures: Especially pertinent in today’s health-conscious world, virtual queuing minimises physical contact. Passengers receive digital notifications or e-tickets instead of paper tickets, giving them a contactless experience where they can pass through the airport without touching buttons or surfaces. They also avoid crowded waiting areas, thereby enhancing overall safety and supporting public health efforts.
  • Family-friendly: For families or groups, virtual queuing can be a lifesaver. It allows parents to attend to their children or elders without the worry of losing a spot in the queue. By reducing the stress associated with managing a group in crowded, time-sensitive environments, virtual queuing enhances the customer experience for this key demographic.

Increased airport operational efficiency

When it comes to running an airport, efficiency is the name of the game. It’s not just about getting passengers from point A to point B — it’s about making every aspect of the airport experience smoother for everyone involved. Virtual queuing does more than just improve the passenger experience; it also provides critical advantages for airport operations.

  • Data-driven decision making: Virtual queue systems collect valuable data on passenger behaviour, such as peak queuing times and average wait times for services. Airports can analyse this data to make better operational decisions like adjusting opening hours of certain services, thereby improving overall efficiency.
  • Optimised staff allocation: Virtual queuing systems provide real-time data on passenger traffic, volumes, and flow, allowing airports to allocate staff more efficiently. For instance, if the data indicates a surge in passengers at the security checkpoint in the next hour, additional staff can be deployed to handle the demand. This optimised resource management reduces labour costs and improves service levels.
  • Increased non-aeronautical revenue: As virtual queuing frees passengers from standing in lines, they have more time to explore retail and dining options. This can lead to an increase in revenue from shopping or dining expenditures, thereby positively impacting the airport’s bottom line.
  • Scalability: Virtual queuing is highly scalable and can adapt to growing passenger numbers and changing requirements. Airports can easily expand or adjust their queue management systems as needed, without disrupting operations or incurring additional costs.

Innovative airport queue management

Virtual queue management systems bring together mobile apps, QR codes, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to create a straightforward, efficient system for managing queues at airports. Thanks to AI and predictive analytics, airports can get ahead of the game, understanding passenger flow to make smarter resource choices. It’s not just about reducing queues; it’s about consistently delivering a smooth experience for both passengers and airport staff.

Direct, real-time notifications sent to passengers’ smartphones are a key part of the equation. These updates eliminate guesswork, letting passengers know exactly where they stand in the queue, as well as any changes to boarding times or gates. When virtual queuing integrates with other airport systems, it creates a coordinated approach to managing flow of passengers, making the whole operation more efficient.

Virtual queuing also supports airports’ sustainability initiatives. They minimise the need for physical infrastructure so can free up some much-needed space and take another step towards becoming more eco-friendly. Airport queue management systems are not just good operational sense; they’re a responsible choice too.

What’s next for queues in airports?

With the adoption of virtual queuing, airports can move away from maze-like barriers and ropes to create spaces and experiences that reduce travel-related stress and make the passenger journey smoother. Download the brochure, watch the video, or get in touch to learn how about how Rezcomm can help your airport implement virtual queuing solutions that can transform your airport’s efficiency and customer satisfaction.