In yesterday’s episode, frequent-flyer guru Randy Petersen used a webinar hosted by New York-based Clear, which offers a shorter airport security checkpoint experience for travelers, to discuss the good and bad in airports. The shorter version of this post appeared Monday on the APEX Editor’s blog.
Peterson took a page from David Letterman and did a top 10 list about airports, “Don’t Change a Thing…What your Customers Like.” As promised, we have part two of his top 10 list, “Time to Rethink…This is When Customers Gripe.”
Number 10 is Why Sigh. “Airports have slow WiFi speeds. These systems need to be modernized so we can upload photos quickly. We already feel like we’ve paid for WiFi with all the airport fees. So modernize and stop charging and we’ll love you for improving our experience,” he said. “It also makes you look good.”
Number 9 is the 80/20 rule. In airport security, travelers spend 80% of their time waiting for someone to check their drivers’ license and 20 percent is going through security, said Peterson. “Something is wrong with that. In some it’s the airport and some is the Transportation Security Administration,” he said. “The lines are the lines, so airports need to work with the government and the infrastructure to stop long lines just to check IDs.”
Number 8 is Til It’s Time To Go. There’s a lot of anxiety for road warriors, said Peterson. “We’re waiting for things like buses to the terminal. There’s a lot of anxiety on whether will I make my flight,” he said. “Of the 73 apps on my iPhone, 42 will tell me airport security checkpoint wait times, but they don’t tell me my personal wait times. It would be good to know how long a wait is at given points.”
TSA says anxiety is a sign of a terrorist, said Peterson. “No. It’s anxiety to get on your flight. Just et us know if we will make our flight.”
Number 7 is Sitting Not So Pretty. “Its uncivilized to sit on the floor waiting for your flight. I won’t sit on a floor,” said Peterson. “Airports need more chairs to match the size of an average aircraft. We don’t sit on the floor at a restaurant or in the doctor’s office. It doesn’t look good when half of your people sitting on floor at a gate.”
Number 6 is Two-Lane Highway Versus The Interstate. Peterson uttered two words: narrow bathrooms. “I have crashed into other folks with rollerboards because bathroom entrances are abysmal and badly designed,” he said.
Number 5 is Drag And Drop. There’s always a conga line at Immigration, standing in line having to kick their luggage, said Peterson. “Sometimes I have to hold it for 45 minutes, then put it on the floor, move three feet – it’s kick the can,” he said. “I’m getting too old to pick up my belongings. There must be some way for those lines to be structured. Can we invent better way do to this?”
Number 4 is Do You Know Who I Am? “I’m an important guy. I have a titanium card and I have access to an airline premium line,” said Peterson. “I’m in different cities like Boise, and I don’t know where airports have these designated security lines. I’m in a long line, and I see a small sign that says premium passenger line here. So get better signage. We have egos, so show us where to go to get the premium lines.”
Number 3 is Beware What You Wish For. Congress wants to get rid of premium lines and have airports do their own security, said Peterson. “I don’t think it will work. Security is not just guys with a black light checking licenses. Where will you find the money to do biometrics?” he asked.
The folks from Clear got my attention in Denver and I like what I see, said Peterson. “I see there’s less manual processes in security. Can DIA do this without Clear? Can TSA?” he asked. “Security is not like the old days. Where will the money come from? I’d prefer to let Clear take my money.”
Number 2 is No I Can’t Hear You Now. “When a flight is delayed, I can’t always hear what’s going on. Plus I move to another area because they have more seats (see Number 7),” said Peterson. “Airports and airlines need a better way, like social media or apps, to get information out to passengers.”
Number 1 is Power To The People. We all can see the huddled masses on the cold floor near the trash cans plugged in, said Peterson. Programs and apps suck the life out of travelers’ devices, he added. “I see some airports have power poles, but it’s not enough. Smart road warriors bring their own power strips and extension cords, but that’s an accident waiting to happen. We need more and we need it to be accessible.”
Tomorrow: my own observations on some of Randy Peterson’s comments.