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11 July 2022 | Blog

The human touch of passenger experience

After the mass disruption experienced by British holidaymakers during Easter and half term, the subject of airline disruption has become an even hotter topic than before.

Managing airline disruption ahead of the busy summer travel period and keeping passengers informed is at the heart of the 22- point aviation action plan the UK government set out on 30th June.

It’s great to see the UK government is putting measures in place to avoid a repeat of the chaos that was experienced by thousands of passengers and the poor airline staff that have suffered this year. But, with more than 20 years guiding 50+ of the world’s top airlines on their disruption strategies, there is a key element that must be considered to help airlines reduce stress for their passengers and staff.

In our experience, it’s all about finding the right balance between the human touch – using your people to relate to your customers - and using technology to remove human errors from operational processes that can cause unnecessary tension for passengers.

15below CEO Nicholas Key recently shared his insights and ideas about how to overcome some of the challenges airlines are facing, and a bit of a road map (or should that be runway?) to help airlines on their journey.

1. Automated operational tasks

This is where the ultimate combination of human plus technology comes into play. Your staff are perfectly positioned to manage edge cases and complex scenarios that require human interaction. While 67%* of people want to use self-serve technology and chatbots, they’re not right for everyone and don’t work in every situation. The automation technology is there to handle the same task again and again without manual management, thus preventing human error, reducing contact centre call volumes, and giving you significant cost-savings.

2. Bespoke workflows for every type of passenger

This goes back to the human thing again. Truly personalised messages mean exactly that, treating every customer as an individual. I don’t just mean putting their first name in an email but thinking about how you notify people about a flight delay or cancellation. Do they have small children? Have they been held up in disruption with you before? What is their value in the long run? The answer to each of these questions will determine what they need to hear from you. Context is everything.

3. Real-time notifications

For more than a decade, passengers have been saying that one of the most important things you can give them is timely information on the status of their flight. They’ve been asking for it for long enough, and the technology is out there to make it happen! When your competitors are offering this “service” as standard, you stand out in all the wrong ways if you don’t make it a key part of your customer experience. Integrating your notifications with real-time flight information means you can automatically update your passengers and staff during irregular operations. (Note that I keep saying “and staff” - it is absolutely vital that your people know what is going on - arguably before your passengers so that they can help to support customers as things change.)

4. Passenger experience and customer loyalty

I know that maintaining your airline’s brand reputation is a key challenge for our industry. Airlines are the first to take the blame for things that are not always their responsibility. But, using effective processes to deliver personalised communications that are delivered in a timely manner for passengers, means you can turn mass-disruption into a positive, by minimising the impact on your customers - and therefore your brand. A disrupted customer who is communicated with in the right way is much more likely to travel with your airline again, than one who receives poor (or no) communication.


Take the stress out of travel for your passengers
The key takeaway is this: Take the stress out of travel for your passengers by putting things in human terms – and in real time. That’s what will make your passenger experience stand out and protect your brand. 


This has been an incredibly tough year for travel – demand has far surpassed the resources that we have and not all of us were ready. However, this is a great opportunity to focus on getting technology into the right parts of the customer journey so that your staff can focus on providing the human touch where it’s needed. Find this balance and your next busy season will be much more enjoyable for all involved (and the media will have to find another industry to talk about.)