Home' Asian Aviation : AAV February 2016 Contents 50 AsianAviation | FEBRUARY 2016
desks, agents are roaming, looking for confused or
lost passengers. The logging of potentially delaying
customers in real-time has benefits beyond good
customer service, the airline says, helping gate staff
and dispatchers locate slower passengers.
The next evolution in the connected airport relies
on beacons, micro transmitters that use Bluetooth to
interrogate the mobile devices of anyone who pass by.
In a benign world, such devices allow airlines to know
when premium passengers arrive at the lounge, or
when someone with mobility needs is approaching the
airbridge. Retailers, too, are enthused by the prospect
of being able to tailor signage language according to
the profile settings on a customer’s phone. So when
a Japanese passenger walks through the airport of
the future, way-finding signage will be displayed in
Japanese as he or she approaches.
Yet privacy advocates have concerns over the
potential for misuse of beacons. Because of their
ability to track the specific location and context of
any individual with a smart device, many fear beacons
will erode cherished freedom of movement rights. For
example, international agreement might be needed
to harmonise passenger profiling standards through
a change to the Standards and Recommended
Practices contained in Annex 17 of the Chicago
Convention. The Electronic Privacy Information
Center in the US says individuals do not expect to
be tracked wherever they go. The advocacy body
points to PleaseRobMe, an aggregated website of
the empty homes of vacationers as proof that even
benign data can be reinterpreted for bad intent.
Other international standards are being driven
by the global airline technology companies. The
passenger name record (or PNR), developed by
IATA in the 1960s as a standardised itinerary for
the SABRE system, contains the barebones of a
passenger’s travel plans.
The leading global distribution systems such as
Amadeus, Travelport and Sabre Systems, have
been working on expanded digital PNRs that hold
significantly more comprehensive passenger details.
Tony Carter, managing director of Amadeus IT
Pacific explains that innovative apps are often held
back by legally mandated privacy checks.
“Our Extreme Search iPad app asks ‘Do you mind
if we use where you are?’ You click ‘Yes’ and all of
a sudden this app knows where you are and it starts
sharing with you, flight options and prices and holiday
ideas on how to travel around the world,” he says.
But countries such as Germany and New Zealand
are leading the charge in protecting personal data,
which comes at a cost to innovation.
Another area where processes are mandated
rather than necessarily being done the most
efficiently is airport security, where layer upon layer
of compulsory checks have built up over decades of
anti-terrorism reactions. The result is inconvenience
for the travelling public. Having to remove belts,
unpack laptops and surrender your toothpaste is
such an undignified way to start your trip.
Instead, the security of airports can be ensured
through the combination of multiple threat analyses
into a single process, believes IATA, which has
embarked on a series of trials of its Smart Security
protocols that could ultimately result in checks for
sharp objects and detects flammable liquids in a
single process. Frequent travellers’ profiles will be
stored, ensuring the slower lanes are reserved for
the once-in-a lifetime crowd. Passengers may also
be screened differently depending on what is known
or unknown about them.
Airports including Geneva, London Heathrow,
Amsterdam Schiphol, London Gatwick and
Melbourne, are among those with prototype integrated
security systems that go some way towards the
goal. Passengers at these airports often have to do
two processes as the trial equipment is not legally
certificated in many cases. Angela Gittens, director
general, of Airports Council International says
lessons learned from the trials will be fed back to law
enforcement agencies to ensure equipment can enter
production and passenger processes streamlined.
In the meantime airports like Montreal’s Pierre
Elliott Trudeau are experimenting with ways to ease
the passenger stress at security checkpoints. The
airport recently launched a new online service, called
SecurXpress, that allows passengers to be assigned
a time slot to pass through security screening, rather
than queuing up at a random time. The only caveat
being that the US authorities have put a halt to
passengers flying there from using the service, citing
concerns over anyone short-cutting security.
What airlines and airports around the world are
hoping is that through sophisticated analysis of
data, less rather than more overt physical security
will be necessary. Ben Gurion International Airport
in Tel Aviv has a reputation for intimidating levels of
security. Yet no flight leaving Ben Gurion has ever
been hijacked and El Al has not seen an attack in
more than 30 years despite operating in an incredibly
hostile regional and domestic environment.
The secret, many believe, is in layers of sophisticated
data analysis rather than any obvious toughness.
Passengers are screened by curbside porters, airline
check-in staff and roaming greeters. All deploy charm
and helpfulness rather than aggression to weed out
personal details in a human way. Their gut reaction
provides the first layer of defence in a multilayered
approach. The result is that Ben Gurion has a high
customer satisfaction rating despite the security.
This approach is being studied in the US, where
the Transportation Security Administration has been
deploying mature greeters with success for five
years. Behind the scenes analysis of passenger data
brings up anomalies in travel patterns and itineraries
that raise red flags. This means only those of interest
to authorities are subjected to secondary screening.
Many Asian nations, chiefly Singapore, have
applied this kind of logic to their border processes
for several decades and have waited for the rest of
the world to catch up.
With any hope, the golden days of stress-free
travel could return sooner than expected. ✈
“We see a transformation. Passengers
are thinking ‘What if I didn’t have to
stand in line? What if there were no more
counters? Why can’t people engage more
personally with me about my flight and
my experience?’ This has created huge
potential for customer satisfaction.”
vice president of innovation and commercial technologies,
Delta Air Lines
Concierge staff at Virgin Atlantic’s
Upper Class Wing have trialled Google
Glass and other wearable technology.
4/02/2016 7:28:38 PM
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