Cuts Wait times, streamlines TSA TSA Schedules and presents live queue times at Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky International Airport
Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) with local Transportation Security Administration (TSA) collaboration is using live and empiric data to identify irregularities at the security checkpoint. Thanks to BlipTrack Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International airport, the fastest-growing major airport in the US, with a whopping 17 percent year-over-year passenger increase, achieved in 2017 its best ranking in the 22-year history of the U.S. Department of Transportation airfare report. It also experienced its highest passenger traffic volume since 2005, with almost eight million passengers passing through this international transport hub.
To keep the passenger experience positive, even as carrier and traveller numbers continue to rise, the airport implemented BlipTrack queue and flow technology at TSA checkpoints during 2014. The airport was the first in the United States to utilise this solution, which allows them to measure, understand and improve the traveller experience, and to better plan and allocate resources in cooperation with TSA.
Wait times cut by a third!
After only one year of use, the airport was in a position to announce that, due to the data they had gathered using BlipTrack, they had successfully reduced TSA security line wait times by one third. Nearly four minutes from 13.2 minutes to 8.9 minutes.
In 2016, the TSA grabbed headlines across the country as passengers slogged through frustratingly slow-moving lines.
“Fortunately, CVG did not experience extensive queue times during the 2016 peak summer travel season as other airports across the country clamoured for adjustments and lobbied for additional TSA staffing,” says Mindy Kershner, Sr. Manager, Public & Government Affairs at CVG. “We demonstrated more efficient scheduling, via predictive analytics, which negated the immediate need for staffing increases.”
“Before BlipTrack, our peak wait times were 45 minutes and higher. Now, our peak wait times are beneath 30 minutes, with the average wait times well below 15 minutes for general security and below five minutes for PreCheck,” says Brian Cobb, Vice President of Customer Experience at CVG.
Wait time information eases passengers´minds
Since then, the airport has gradually expanded the solution and added new features to help streamline operations further and continue improving the passenger experience. Passenger-facing wait time monitors and CVGairport.com interfaces provide immediate wait-time status, easing natural travel anxieties associated with queue lines and setting realistic expectations.
“Much of our interest in the public display of wait times was to dispel perception from reality. 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. What we found to be true pre- and post-deployment was an immediate positive impact on social media, specifically Twitter. Tweets regarding security queue wait times were the number one targeted complaint. For those customers that engaged and willingly shared more information via direct message (DM), we were able to track them from entry to exit and confirm via video their actual wait times; we impressed these customers by separating their general frustration with the process versus actual (minimal) wait times. Subsequently, this supported the need to move forward with public-facing displays, including publishing in real-time on our website. Post-monitor deployment three-plus years ago, queue complaints are now rare as the customer immediately understands the present situation and adapts. More importantly, positive tweets regarding queues are more the norm. We’re once again empowering the customer to make educated decisions; for those that can afford to dwell longer at shops and concessions, they opt to continue their shopping/dining experience until the wait has diminished,” says Brian Cobb, Vice President of Customer Experience at CVG.
Utilizing data to align TSA schedules
Additionally, CVG has gone so far as to establish service level agreement (SLA)-like standards for self-accountability, ensuring average wait times below 15 minutes are consistently delivered. For the second quarter ending June 2017, the average wait time for expedited screening registered at 11min28sec. It is somewhat significant given CVG’s surge in peak-day checkpoint throughput from 10,000 to over 15,000 during the same period.
Stephen Saunders, Senior Manager of Terminal Operations at CVG explains: “We have added a new feature that allows us to understand the pattern of how lanes are being utilised throughout the day. This helps us better understand TSA’s lane utilisation on any given day. Our future goal is to pair this information with passenger show-up profiles and wait-time inputs to complete a story of how the checkpoint is operating as a whole and help the TSA develop lane open/close plans based on predicted throughputs. We have used tangible data to work with our partners at TSA to adjust officer start time. We previously noticed a high spike in queue waits during our heaviest early bank of morning flights, levelling off after about 7:30. We collectively identified TSA schedules were misaligned with the flight schedules. Later security lane openings by as little as 15 minutes 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 passengers and airlines benefited as evidenced by a near-immediate reduction in wait times below target and customer compliments via the Airport’s social media platforms. We remain engaged with TSA HQ in an attempt to collaborate to make real changes using this technology.”
Expanding the solution to maximise revenue
CVG and Veovo, BlipTrack are working together to expand the solution to the outside of the terminal and throughout the airport grounds, to amplify the passenger experience. CVG is hopeful to gain a better understanding of improved parking data analysis to discover whether more passengers are using off-site competitor parking lots, and show where passengers dwell once inside their facilities.