July 10, 2020
What will it take to persuade Americans to travel by airplane again? Confidence that doing so won’t jeopardize their health is a big factor. However, results of a recent survey from Gensler and View Inc. suggest that a focus on the airport environment may be at least as important as the health and safety measures taken onboard the plane.
That’s especially true of frequent travelers—or, more accurately, those who would be traveling frequently under normal circumstances. The most frequent travelers (more than five flights/month for business or personal reasons) rated the activities at the airport as their highest area of concern (49%), much more than the flight itself (25%). The opposite was true for infrequent fliers.
“Airport design and policies can be powerful tools to restore traveler confidence,” according to a Gensler/View research snapshot. “While news headlines often focus on full airplane flights as a top barrier to travel, the survey finds that the airport environment is the frequent traveler’s main worry, outweighing both the ground commute and the airplane flight.”
Frequent travelers’ perception of risk centers on three key areas: baggage check, security and the gate area. “The passenger experience must be modified and improved for each of those areas through updated airport design and operations,” according to the snapshot.
Providing reassurance that these touch points have been addressed can go a long way toward getting more ticketed passengers through the gates. “Confident passengers reported that they would return to travel sooner,” the snapshot states.
At present, just 20% of travelers would say they were comfortable traveling. With increased confidence in the airport, Gensler says, that share will increase to 50% by October, but without confidence, passengers won’t reach the 50% milestone until April of 2021.
“The first step to restoring confidence is to understand and address passenger needs in a COVID world,” according to the snapshot. “Social distancing, touchless technology, and environmental monitoring top the list as must haves for future travelers. These must be implemented from the curbside to the boarding gate and everywhere in between.”
For comments, questions or concerns, please contact Paul Bubny