Improving the passenger experience of airport security

Those who have been getting some sun over Christmas or for the rest of us starting to think about booking our summer holidays (or those just trying to get to the next meeting) the issue of airport security can send a shudder down the spine. It has to be one of the least enjoyable aspects of any trip (marginally ahead of waiting for the bus in the rain in the long stay car park or the fun of the Piccadilly Line out to Heathrow!). But fortunately airport operators know this and are all becoming much more focused on our experience as passengers. So improving the experience of getting through security is high on the priority list.


In the States, groups have started to suggest that the future lies in getting screening technology out there much of which is still in early development at the moment. Certainly for the passenger if this does anything to reduce queues then it has one tick. Individual body scanners are becoming more common at airports but there are still concerns around issues like privacy. Sorting these are key to getting user acceptance and delivering the enhanced passenger experience that is wanted.

The other approach is not about the physical environment and technology but reducing the number of people who are screened. It is contentious but in the States again they are taking the first steps towards profiling and offering faster screening for pre-approved passengers. Other schemes are being developed that reduce screening of children and allow aircraft staff to bypass screening all together. Many are questioning how foolproof such approaches can be.

In the end improving the security processes are likely to be mostly about technology but to get the technology working, being effective and accepted by the travelling public, the human elements of the design and implementation must be kept at the front of the process.

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DESIGN AND THE HUMAN FACTOR: Improving the passenger experience of airport security

Friday, 6 January 2012

Improving the passenger experience of airport security

Those who have been getting some sun over Christmas or for the rest of us starting to think about booking our summer holidays (or those just trying to get to the next meeting) the issue of airport security can send a shudder down the spine. It has to be one of the least enjoyable aspects of any trip (marginally ahead of waiting for the bus in the rain in the long stay car park or the fun of the Piccadilly Line out to Heathrow!). But fortunately airport operators know this and are all becoming much more focused on our experience as passengers. So improving the experience of getting through security is high on the priority list.


In the States, groups have started to suggest that the future lies in getting screening technology out there much of which is still in early development at the moment. Certainly for the passenger if this does anything to reduce queues then it has one tick. Individual body scanners are becoming more common at airports but there are still concerns around issues like privacy. Sorting these are key to getting user acceptance and delivering the enhanced passenger experience that is wanted.

The other approach is not about the physical environment and technology but reducing the number of people who are screened. It is contentious but in the States again they are taking the first steps towards profiling and offering faster screening for pre-approved passengers. Other schemes are being developed that reduce screening of children and allow aircraft staff to bypass screening all together. Many are questioning how foolproof such approaches can be.

In the end improving the security processes are likely to be mostly about technology but to get the technology working, being effective and accepted by the travelling public, the human elements of the design and implementation must be kept at the front of the process.

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