Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG), in collaboration with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), is using live and empiric data to identify irregularities at the security checkpoint. Thanks to BlipTrack technology, this award-winning airport is experiencing better resource use and smoother passenger processing.
CVG is one of the fastest-growing major airports in the US, with a 17% year-on-year growth in passenger numbers, and in 2017 it achieved its best-ever ranking in the history of the US Department of Transportation airfare report. To keep the passenger experience positive as carrier and traveller numbers increased, the hub implemented BlipTrack queue and flow technology at TSA checkpoints in 2014. CVG was the first airport in the US to use this solution, which allows the operator to measure, understand and improve the traveller experience in cooperation with the TSA.
After only a year of use, the airport was in a position to announce that, thanks to the data they had gathered using BlipTrack, they had successfully reduced security line wait times by a third. This was a stark contrast to the experiences of passengers at other TSA checkpoints throughout 2016, wherein travellers were forced to slog through frustratingly slow-moving queues.
"Fortunately, CVG did not experience extensive queue times during the 2016 peak summer travel season like other airports across the country, [which] clamoured for adjustments and lobbied for additional TSA staffing," says Mindy Kershner, senior manager for public and government affairs at CVG. "We demonstrated more efficient scheduling via predictive analytics, which negated the immediate need for staffing increases." This sentiment is echoed by Brian Cobb, vice-president for customer experience at the airport. "Before BlipTrack, our peak wait times were 45 minutes and higher," says Cobb. "Now, our peak wait times are below 30 minutes, with the average wait times [being] well below 15 minutes for general security and below five minutes for precheck."
Since then, the airport has gradually expanded the solution, adding on new features to help streamline operations even further. Passenger-facing monitors and CVGairport.com interfaces provide immediate wait-time status, easing the natural travel anxieties associated with queueing and setting realistic expectations. "Much of our interest in the public display of wait times was to dispel perception from reality," explains Cobb. "As the adage goes, ask five people what their actual wait time was and you'll get five different answers. This is only compounded by the anxiety-ridden security experience and heightened customer sensitivities."
Additionally, CVG has gone so far as to establish service level agreement-like standards for self-accountability, ensuring that the norm for average wait times is below 15 minutes. For the second quarter of 2017, the average wait time for expedited screening registered at just 11 minutes and 28 seconds, a notable improvement given CVG's surge in peak-day checkpoint throughput from 10,000 to over 15,000 in the same period.
"We have used tangible data to work with our partners at TSA to adjust officer start time," explains Stephen Saunders, senior manager of terminal operations at CVG. "We collectively identified TSA schedules [that] were misaligned with the flight schedules. Security lanes that were opening just 15 minutes late were incapable of catching up to and meeting the passenger demand surge. Because of this data, we recommended staffing adjustments to the local TSA leaders, which ultimately benefitted passengers and airlines."
CVG and Veovo are now working to expand the solution to the outside of the terminal and throughout the airport grounds to amplify the passenger experience. That has been, and will always remain, the goal in deploying BlipTrack.
"Once we better understand the passenger journey, we can make strategic decisions, to better utilise our facilities," says Saunders. "This allows us to demonstrate to our passengers the ease of use of our facilities and can help in calming their travel anxieties. Our goal is to use the data to create an unforgettably positive passenger experience."