Smartphones and Airports

Smartphones and Airports

With 98% of all airline passengers carrying a mobile phone when they travel, the demand for a more streamlined airport experience as a result of smartphone technology is always on the rise. Airports are just as eager to push you through the security process as quickly and efficiently as possible, and the amount of time your smartphone can save you is incredible.

It is no secret that you can check in to your flight through airline smartphone applications or from your personal computer a few days before your flight. Some airlines, such as Ryanair, require you to do this to avoid a large additional fee. It is easy to understand why, as by automating the service, less staff are required on the check-in counter, and so the airline saves money on labour fees. Other airlines, such as Lufthansa, provide you with either option, but seasoned travellers will know that they can save considerable amounts of time by skipping the check-in line. By downloading the airline app to your smartphone, you will also most likely be able to download your boarding pass as an electronic document to your smartphone, reducing paper waste and reducing the amount of vital things you can potentially lose as you navigate the airport.

What this means, is that if you just have a small piece of hand luggage, after arriving at the airport, you can skip check-in and luggage drop and head directly to security. If you do have luggage to check in, this is also often automated. Self-serve stations allow you to print out your own luggage tags and drop off points automatically weigh your luggage as while you make an electronic declaration that your luggage is safe. The need for human staff in airports is quickly diminishing as technology becomes smarter.

Airline applications are always developing and, alongside checking into your flights, you can often upgrade your flight class, choose your seats, track your flights for delays, hire cars, check out hotel deals at your destination, and even reserve parking spots at the airport, depending on which app and airline you are using. More universal applications are also available such as Tripit, which combs your emails for booking confirmations and puts all of your flight information, tickets and passes into one place, and GateGuru which provides you with airport maps, arrival and departure times, restaurants at the airport and waiting times in security lines. Google has a similar application built into many smartphones which also provides travel times to and from the airports, traffic updates, and weather reports, all in the palm of your hand.

Another way in which smartphones are speeding up the journey to the other side of security is often active, but a little more hidden than through intelligent applications. Airports are often tracking the locations of smartphones to find out how many people are in queues at security to provide estimations on how long you will be waiting to pass the checkpoint. This provides vital data online and in the terminal to passengers so they know how much time they need to comfortably make their flight on time. This technology is also used in immigration halls so that passengers know how long it will take to cross the border, and airports know where to dispatch more staff to when the demand for more help is high.

Other airports use this technology to track how long people spend in parking lots, walking routes, entrances and exits and provides airports with early warnings about congestion points and can really improve the flow of passengers through the terminal. Smartphone tracking works as each mobile device emits a MAC address which is not linked to any individual user data, meaning no personal information is revealed and aligns the process of smartphone tracking with EU data privacy laws.

Aside from intelligent applications, airport navigation, passenger streamlining, check-in and electronic passes, smartphones can also provide an endless world of entertainment as you wait for your plane in the departure hall. Smartphones are brilliant tools to increase your comfort and to reduce the time you spend at the airport, meaning you have a few more minutes of precious vacation and less time waiting for your flight.