The Herman Trend Alert
April 1, 2015
OSL: Hints at the Future of Airports and Aviation
Recently, we had the good fortune to travel through Oslo Airport (OSL) to get to Svalbard (for the total eclipse of the sun). Because we took a side trip to Tromso [pronounced trohm-suh] as well, we passed through OSL a total of four times.
Security Made Simpler
Even for Fast Track*, security was very thorough; however, rather than having to gather the used bins and hand carry them back, all their personnel had to do was place them on a conveyor belt. They were automatically transported back to beginning of the line to the passengers who needed them. It is a totally elegant solution.
For metal detection, they use very similar equipment to what we have in the United States, however the line moved much more quickly, similarly to TSA's Pre-Check, or perhaps even faster. To assist passengers in putting back on their shoes, security offers one-meter long, bright orange shoehorns, plus enough leather-padded square seats to sit comfortably while doing it.
Handling Snow with Ease
Upon departure, OSL was under "white out" conditions (virtually zero visibility), yet the planes were still flying---delayed, but still flying. For Buffalo, New York, three feet of snow is business-as-usual, other locales around the globe need to look at how severe weather has been handled and copy their best practices.
Brilliant Marketers as Well
One more thing that was interesting: foot traffic transferring from domestic to international flights was funneled through the Duty-Free store. While passengers were slightly inconvenienced, the retail chain and the airport made more money. While we may not want to be personally exposed to such overt sales tactics, we must respect their marketing savvy.
The Sooner We Start Adjusting. . .
Here's the lesson for the US' and other airports around the world: the definition of "normal" is the set of conditions to which we are accustomed. We need to take action now to study those best practices in dealing with weather extremes. With hundreds of thousands of fights cancelled annually, the sooner we do, the sooner airports will be cancelling fewer flights that currently disrupt people's lives and reduce organizational productivity. Expect the most forward-thinking airports and airlines to embrace these best practices and adapt to the "new normal" faster. Those that lag behind, choosing to stay with business-as usual, will find themselves with reduced passenger loads; frequent flyers will naturally stay away from the airports with the most cancelled flights.
* Fast Track at European airports is the premium passengers; it is somewhat similar to our TSA Pre-Check in the US.
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