Since May, the Seattle-Tacoma Airport (SEA) is running trials with virtual queues, expected to end on August 31. Looking at reducing long-lines and agglomerates while delivering towards Covid-19-imposed measures, the trials are being bolstered by the introduction of a free digital reservation system.
1. SEA Spot Saver
The programme SEA Spot Saver aims to modernise the passenger experience allowing for virtual queueing, security screening, touchless check-in, and bag drop-off. These functionalities, free of cost, are being supported by new technologies used at Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security checkpoints and do not request any sort of membership. The first trial is being conducted at checkpoint 2, covering Delta and other airlines. The SEA airport is conducting a second trial at its TSA checkpoint 5, which serves Alaska Airlines passengers.
Dan Zenk, SEA Spot Saver’s senior manager of terminal operations, explained the new technology and how it aims to improve customer experience.
One system is through checkpoint 2 that is text-based, the other is at checkpoint 5 for Alaska Airline passengers through an online web form. There is no membership needed or additional information.Dan Zenk, SEA Spot Saver’s senior manager of terminal operations
The concept has been brought up before, in theme parks and large touristic stores like Harry Potter, but it was accelerated with the emergence of the pandemic.
This brought in the complexities of the Covid-19 social distancing requirement, facility constraints, and in anticipation of the return of passengers as the economy recovered.Dan Zenk, SEA Spot Saver’s senior manager of terminal operations
2. Monitoring traffic with QR codes
VHT, the Tennessee-based company leader in call center queuing technology, is partnering on a virtual queuing trial at SEA’s TSA checkpoint 2, serving Delta and other airlines. The company is centering its airport virtual queuing technology around QR codes. In practice, after scanning the code with their phones, users can communicate with the system through text messages. They receive texts updating their status in the virtual line and can also request additional updates via text.
I have a 3-year-old. Being able to just rest at a table and wait until it is our turn, it’s such a stress-relieving process.Jared Evers, VHT’s director of content and communications
When asked about the efficacy of such a system, SEA’s spokesperson Perry Cooper said it is too soon to know if the systems are reducing physical lines, despite early signs being good. “We’ll see as volume continues to grow over the summer,” said Cooper. Travellers are being encouraged to use this system to provide comments on their experience, allowing staff to monitor the operations and make necessary adjustments.
The system allows passengers to check bags, grab a drink, spend more time with loved ones before you depart, or all of the above, Zenk emphasised.