From the outset of the pandemic, airports around the world faced numerous challenges providing safe and efficient environments for travelers. Due to social distancing requirements, the line to board an aircraft could be extremely long and cause complications for passengers and airport staff. Although airlines manage the boarding process, in 2021 the Toronto Pearson International Airport came up with an innovative solution that could deliver a safe and enhanced boarding experience for passengers.
The airport planned to streamline the entire boarding experience and deliver vital information literally into the hands of passengers. By providing travellers with timely boarding updates through mobile devices, as well as through visual displays at boarding gates, the airport could create more efficient processes, reduce travellers’ concerns about making a flight, and prevent long lines. It could also ensure that people with accessibility needs would receive specialized onboarding services tailored to their needs.
As the strategic IT partner of the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) since 2016, Wipro partnered with Toronto Pearson to develop Passenger Queue System (PQS), an innovative, cloud-based solution designed to improve boarding operations.
By simply scanning a QR code with a mobile device at check-in or at a boarding gate, people could receive updated boarding information without needing a separate app or browser update. Having more accurate, timely boarding information, airline customers gained greater confidence about flight times, received a smooth boarding experience without standing in long lines, and had time for other activities.
The updates helped ensure travellers could arrive at their gates on time and prevent staff from making repeated announcements due to missing passengers. These boarding efficiencies also enabled airlines themselves to avoid departure delays and improve flights’ on-time performance (OTP), driving greater customer satisfaction.
Airline agents managed boarding from start to finish from the PQS portal. They gained the ability to enter scheduled flight information, preboarding messages, and current boarding information into the portal for real-time display on boarding gate screens. When gates were not yet open for boarding, the displays could show helpful airport information or advertising.
Wipro built PQS using an Agile methodology, obtained continuous stakeholder feedback, and made iterative changes throughout the project. The implementation required only 30% of the time a traditional project might take due to the use of Wipro’s global crowdsourcing platform, Topcoder of almost 230,000 talented tech experts, which accelerated PQS development.
After enabling PQS for one of its leading airlines, the biggest improvement was observed in airline’s OTP with zero boarding related delays at gates. Also, by providing seat upgrades to travellers before boarding, 86% of flights collected ancillary revenue.
Boarding gates with this “passenger queue buster” met the Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations (ATPDR) by providing the required boarding announcements and the visibility of zones to all guests. Based on PQS communications, agents made fewer announcements and noticed a significant decrease in questions about boarding. As a cloud-native and serverless system that leverages Wipro FullStride Cloud Services, AWS, and the Omnivex Ink platform, PQS was a first for Toronto Pearson and for airports across North America.
Once the project was successfully completed and the benefits captured, the GTAA identified additional areas where PQS could be launched to maximize further benefits, rather than being a standalone application. The GTAA also began exploring ways to leverage PQS to drive non-aeronautical revenue by providing digital promotions that customers can use at the airport before their time to board the flight.