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ACI research shows experience in waiting areas crucial to customer satisfaction

New ASQ report explores the many elements that drive customer experience

Montreal, 24 October 2019 – Airports Council International (ACI) World has today published a new research report which shows that the comfort of waiting areas at airport gates is a crucial overall driver of customer satisfaction.

The report has been produced through ACI’s ASQ programme which provides a detailed view of the passenger experience through their comfort levels at the gate areas.

According to ASQ, infrastructure is the most important driver of overall passenger satisfaction and the perception of comfort of waiting at the gate areas is a key component of this.

Using an exploratory survey among the airports that are delivering the best comfort of waiting at the gate areas, as well as the airports that have recorded the most significant increase in passenger satisfaction, this new report investigates the variables associated with their success.

Offering an optimal comfort experience is the sum of several efforts. The most obvious elements are seats and basic services – such as Wi-Fi access, access to power, and clean washrooms – but the best airports are sensitive to intangible variables that have a direct impact on comfort, such as smell, light, noise and temperature.

The key, however, is that passengers must be in the right mood to get the most out of the experiences that are offered and how they will perceive and react to their environment. Some passengers are more sensitive to the environment than others.

“Airports continually strive to improve customer experience as passengers are demanding higher levels of service,” ACI World Director General Angela Gittens said. “Providing a comfortable experience for passengers waiting in gate areas is a priority for airports as waiting, even for very short periods, is an inevitable part of the passenger journey.

“Defining comfort of waiting at the gate areas is complex as there are a number of variables involved and this report assists airports by exploring which aspects of the passenger experience impact this. The airport can provide a comfortable experience by reassuring, calming and relaxing the passengers and a comfortable environment can be achieved with both tangible and intangible elements.”

To get a comprehensive understanding of the concept of comfort of waiting at the gate areas, this best practice report explores several questions:

  • what is the personal experience of passengers waiting in airports and how do passengers perceive this time
  • which are the tangible and intangible aspects of the airport that affect the perception of waiting time at the gate areas
  • what can airports anticipate regarding passengers’ reactions to the airport environment
  • do all passengers have the same sensitivities to the comfort offered at the waiting areas, and
  • according to the most successful airports, what are the key variables in delivering the best comfort at the gate areas?

“Beyond tangible factors – such as the comfort of seating – several intangible variables will contribute to passenger experience,” Angela Gittens said. “Noise, lighting, air quality, and crowd level all contribute to the ambiance. The most successful airports in providing comfort in waiting areas provide soothing environments, such as smaller lounges and quiet zones”.

The report also found architectural features such as the terminal envelope, space of seating areas, walking paths, floors, and ornaments will also have a role of the passenger’s perception of the environment.

Notes for editors

    1. Airports Council International (ACI), the trade association of the world’s airports, was founded in 1991 with the objective of fostering cooperation among its member airports and other partners in world aviation, including the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Air Transport Association and the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization. In representing the best interests of airports during key phases of policy development, ACI makes a significant contribution toward ensuring a global air transport system that is safe, secure, efficient and environmentally sustainable. As of January 2019, ACI serves 646 members, operating 1,960 airports in 176 countries.
    2. To order or for more information on the ACI Passenger Experience At The Gate Report.
    3. ASQ is the world-renowned and globally established benchmarking programme measuring passengers’ satisfaction while travelling through an airport.
    4. Airport customer experience is explored and celebrated at ACI’s Customer Experience Global Summit which will be held in Krakow, Poland between 7 and 10 September 2020.

Media contacts

Bojana Jeremic
Manager, External Relations and Special Events
ACI World
Telephone: +1 514 373 1254

Sabrina Guerrieri
Manager, Communications
ACI World
Telephone: +1 514 373 1200