27 August 2011 | We recently published an overview of how airlines and airports around the world have made Apple’s popular iPad device available to passengers in their lounges, rent them out in the air, or use them as self-service kiosk, customer survey tool, and food ordering tool (see: “11 ways how airlines are deploying the iPad”). In the past week several new initiatives have been announced by British Airways, KLM and Changi Airport, using the device to improve customer service on the ground and in the air.
British Airways has just equipped its cabin crew with iPads to enable them to have prior awareness of customer preferences and a greater understanding of each customer’s previous travel arrangements, allowing them to offer a more personalised service. The iPad lets BA crew identify where each customer is seated, who they are travelling with, their frequent flyer status, any special meal requests, as well as customer service updates. The latter means that any issues can be logged with ground-based colleagues around the network prior to departure, so solutions can be delivered while the flight is airborne. When all the passengers have boarded and just before the doors are shut, cabin crew are currently handed a long scroll of paper, listing up to 337 customers. With the new iPads cabin crew will simply refresh their screen when the doors have closed through wireless 3G networks and they will have a complete list of passengers on board. The iPad is currently being trialled with 100 cabin crew with the aim to roll it out to all 1,800 senior crew members across the airline in the coming months. More images here.
On a similar note, KLM will provide a group of 50 senior pursers with iPads on board as part of a 6-month trial project starting in October 2011. KLM says it feels it is essential that cabin crew have easy access to the latest information in the air, as personal contact with passengers on the ground is becoming rarer due to the increased deployment of self-service kiosks. As part of the same ‘pilot’, KLM will also equip 50 pilots with iPads, providing them with an extra tool during flight operations that is more efficient than the large volume of forms, briefing documentation and manuals they usually take along.
In early 2011, Spanish airline Iberia equipped customer service staff at its Madrid-Barajas hub with iPads to provide them with real-time access to information they need to make decisions and keep passengers informed. Iberia’s so-called IBPad is loaded with 30 different applications which, according to the airline, together put the entire airport in the palm of the employee’s hand. Iberia says the IBPad has improved everyday operations and dealings with customers, boosting communications and staff decision-making autonomy, while eliminating the use of paper.
Singapore Changi Airport
Since March 2011, so-called Changi Experience Agents (CEAs) have been walking the grounds at Singapore Changi Airport, assisting passengers with special needs and helping passengers with wayfinding at the airport. Locating missing luggage, facilitating passengers with check-in needs and assisting transit or transfer passengers with their onward connections also form part of the CEAs’ duties. Each CEA is equipped with an iPad with which they can retrieve information, such as the latest flight updates, store location, and check-in gates. The CEAs are on duty all day except from 1am – 6am when passenger traffic is low.