Access all areas: Why airports need to adapt their passenger experience strategies

Access all areas: Why airports need to adapt their passenger experience strategies Image
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For many people, airports can be the most critical piece in the overall passenger experience.  However, traditionally, the experience has failed to be truly accessible and inclusive for all passengers. 

As societal attitudes and awareness around accessibility and inclusivity have evolved. So too has the approach to airport design and service provision. Today, there's a growing recognition that every traveller, regardless of their ticket class, deserves an airport experience that is welcoming, accessible, and accommodating. 


The importance of enhancing passenger experience


This shift in perspective is crucial for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it’s the right thing to do. Airports are gateways that serve a melting pot of diverse people, cultures and backgrounds with different physical and cognitive needs.   

The self-employed person craving a quiet space to work in a noisy, busy terminal. The elderly passenger negotiating queues, crowds and long walks, or the child with a hidden disability like autism, feeling overwhelmed by the bright lights, sounds, and constant movement. Or even someone who’d like to take advantage of the duty-free sales, but can’t. 

Beyond ethics, creating an inclusive and accessible environment where everyone feels valued is smart business.  

By catering to everyone, airports can enhance customer satisfaction, loyalty, and repeat business. A warm welcome and comfortable space are also likely to increase revenue opportunities as passengers relax and spend money on dining, shopping and other amenities.  

Airports that don’t step up to the challenge can soon find themselves left behind nursing a damaged reputation. 

In today's digital age, disgruntled travellers can quickly share their frustrations on social media, travel review platforms, and through word-of-mouth. This poor publicity can also be picked up by larger media outlets, causing a sizeable PR headache that can deter potential customers and airline partners, and affect long-term growth. 


Inclusive airport experience strategies


The good news is that airports are now recognising that improving passenger experience and prioritising their differing needs, attitudes, and behaviours is no longer a luxury but a necessity.  

Here are five considerations for crafting a truly inclusive airport experience. 

1.  Accessibility for all passengers.

While airports have made great strides in accessibility for passengers with disabilities, there's still room for expansion and improvement. 

Many disabled travellers describe their experience as being shuffled from point A to B without independence or proper consideration.  

To create a comparable environment, ensure facilities and services are accessible to all passengers with disabilities, including those with visual or hearing impairments, limited mobility, and other special needs. Think wheelchair ramps, prominent and tactile signs, accessible toilets and restrooms, and designated, visible assistance points.  

2.  Universal design.

Create intuitive environments and experiences that are easy to navigate and usable by everyone, regardless of age, abilities or background. Ensure signs are clear, concise, and multilingual. Touchscreen information facilities with accessibility features can further enhance the passenger experience.  

3.  Diverse services.  

Offer a diverse range of services and amenities that cater to the needs and preferences of all passengers. This includes a range of options for dining, shopping, relaxing, entertainment, and productivity that appeal to a wide variety of tastes, interests and budgets. Additionally, provide assistance services and resources for travellers needing extra support or accommodation. 

4.  Cultural sensitivity. 

Recognise and respect passengers’ diverse cultures and backgrounds by creating an inclusive and welcoming environment. Showcase different traditions, art or music, provide multilingual signs and announcements, and offer properly equipped religious spaces. 

5.  Sensory considerations. 

Be mindful of passengers’ sensory experiences and create comfortable environments for people with sensory sensitivities.  

Minimise noise, bright lights and other stimuli that may be overwhelming. In addition, provide designated quiet zones, relaxation areas, and other amenities designed to help passengers manage their sensory challenges.        


Reimagine your passenger experience


Airports have a unique opportunity to adapt to and adopt a customer-centric approach. By prioritising the needs of all passengers, airports not only enhance the overall experience for travellers but differentiate themselves in a competitive market, building long-term passenger and airline partner loyalty, increasing revenue opportunities, and boosting both reputation and growth. 

The future of airports lies in inclusivity, accessibility and adaptability. To find out more about how to design a fully inclusive airport, listen to our CXD Podcast today

Download your copy of our Passenger Experience Checklist to help you reimagine your passenger experience. 


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