Mindful’s Airport Virtual Queuing Report:
Airport queueing has traditionally been a stressful experience. But after pioneering a virtual queueing solution at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, you can see how customer perception has changed in this report.
Intro to the virtual queueing report
What if you didn’t have to wait in line at the airport?
Now that you’ve let out a deep breath, let it sink in. If the Covid pandemic has changed anything about customer experience, it’s in the realm of convenience.
Customers want efficiency. They want someone else to grab the items off the shelf and hand them over in a box. They expect to order online, pay online, and get carryout handed to them while they’re sitting in their car.
And just as we’ve seen other businesses align with new customer expectations, overhauling antiquated systems and procedures, now the airport experience is getting an upgrade with virtual queueing.
We partnered with Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to pilot the SEA Spot Saver program using Mindful, allowing travelers to wait in line virtually. In this report, we’ll show you how the program works, and report on feedback from 1,000 travelers that used the program.
How virtual queueing works at SEA Airport
Shuffling through the security line at any large airport is awful. It’s anathema. You’re stressed about missing your flight, disrobing in front of strangers, displaying all your personal belongings in a not-quite-big-enough bin—not to mention the worry of potentially missing your flight.
The SEA team took a hard look at their security checkpoints and knew there must be a better way. So we partnered with them to introduce virtual queueing into the security line, allowing customers to relax from anywhere and stroll right through security when their turn comes up.
To streamline the traveler flow from check-in to security, we deployed Mindful’s messaging automation and virtual queueing engine to place travelers in a virtual line and let them know when it’s their turn. Travelers can wait from anywhere, knowing their spot is saved and they can go through security at the most opportune moment for them.
Tying it together: Once the traveler goes through the entire journey, Mindful sends them a text with a link to a quick survey. This report explores key findings and results from this survey, showcasing traveler interest in virtual queueing for airport security.
Key findings from traveler feedback
We distilled a few of the report’s trends into these three key findings, based on survey results from 1,000 participants.
1. Travelers saved time and enjoyed every minute of it.
More than 90% of travelers that used SEA Spot Saver said they saved time and had a pleasant experience along the way. One participant commented that the program “saved us so much time for a family with young children!! Loved our experience and so thankful for this worker that helped us.”
2. A relaxed airport experience leads to not only happier customers, but better revenue for concessions.
Travelers enjoyed their lounge time, with 60% reporting that they spent their extra time dining or shopping. Businesses will benefit from airports using Mindful as virtually queueing passengers are no longer confined to a line.
3. Streamlined customer experience is better for everyone.
Resoundingly positive feedback—accounting for 75% of total open-ended comments—shows that travelers of all types loved having control of their time.
Families enjoyed leisurely passage through the terminal: “My family and I were able to avoid the stress of potentially not having enough time to get to our gate and we were able to eat and relax prior to our flight which really improved our experience!”
And those with disabilities cherished options to wait from more comfortable, seated positions: “Helped a lot as I was traveling with my son who recently had surgery. Saving time and avoiding a large crowd was great.”
Download the Airport Virtual Queueing report.
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A seamless, virtual queueing customer experience leads to saved time and satisfied passengers.
No matter how often you fly, or how prepared you are, there’s almost always going to be an element of stress. Lines are unpredictable. Traffic can be unexpected. And fixed flight times make the entire experience a race against the clock.
We partnered with SEA Airport to pilot Mindful’s advanced virtual queueing technology as the SEA Spot Saver. The program allows passengers to enter the security screening line virtually, allowing them to wait from anywhere instead of winding through a long queue.
A look at the virtual queueing solution
Here’s how Mindful works in the SEA Spot Saver program:
- The traveler schedules their time to enter security screening up to three days before their flight. (Alternative: The traveler scans a QR code in the airport and follows the prompts to enter the virtual line.)
- With their spot saved in line, the traveler can grab a drink, check their bags, sit and read, or whatever they’d like while they wait for their turn.
- Mindful sends a text when it’s time to enter the checkpoint.
- The traveler walks up and begins the TSA screening process.
- Forty minutes after their turn in line, Mindful sends a follow-up text with a link to a CSAT survey.
The unique benefits of Mindful (as opposed to other queue management systems) is its ability to manage both scheduled screenings and walk-ins.
As a traveler, you have the benefit of scheduling your security screening up to three days before your flight, so you know exactly when you’ll be able to walk up and enter the TSA checkpoint. But if you weren’t aware of the program (or forgot to schedule your spot), you can walk up, scan a QR code, and enter the virtual line.
Advantages? Airports can even out peaks in traffic, predict volume, and staff appropriately with accurate and real-time data.
And for travelers, the rest of this report will uncover customer experience benefits relating to their time, stress, and well-being.
More than 90% of travelers recommend virtual queueing.
Taking a fairly standard approach to this CSAT survey, we asked SEA Spot Saver participants for their reactions toward the following statements and question:
- It was easy for me to save my spot in the SEA Spot Saver virtual queue.
- I saved time by using the SEA Spot Saver Program.
- I would recommend SEA Spot Saver to a friend or relative.
- How satisfied are you with your SEA Spot Saver experience overall?
The results are in: Passengers much prefer virtual waiting over physical queueing.
Airport Queueing Customer Satisfaction
|Strongly agree||Agree||Neither||Disagree||Strongly disagree|
|1,038 respondents from SEA Spot Saver program, recorded by VHT in July 2021.|
|It was easy for me to save my spot in the SEA Spot Saver virtual queue.||88.1%||8.2%||1.3%||0.9%||1.7%|
|I saved time by using the SEA Spot saver program.||88%||6.5%||2.4%||0.9%||2.3%|
|I would recommend SEA Spot Saver to a friend or relative.||88.9%||7.5%||1.2%||0.5%||1.9%|
|How satisfied are you with your SEA Spot Saver experience overall?||88.8%||5.9%||1.7%||1.4%||2.2%|
Over 90% of respondents thought it was easy to save their spot, they saved time, and they would recommend the program.
The perception shift here for an airport is monumental. Rarely does anyone reflect on “saving time” at an airport—much less find something easy.
Mindful’s virtual queueing system puts the customer in control, and leads to a—dare we say it—pleasant experience at the airport. With a spot saved in line, passengers save time in the customer flow, and can enjoy their time not waiting in line.
Now that we know they’re saving time, let’s dive into what they’re using their time for instead.
Travelers prefer lounging over standing—and it’s shops that benefit.
Another question in the passenger CSAT survey was focused on how free time was spent: “What did you do at the airport instead of waiting in line?” And even though the results might be predictable at face value, they are major indicators for airports.
Here’s a look at the results:
Free-time Choices for Virtual Queueing Travelers
|1,038 respondents from SEA Spot Saver program, recorded by VHT in July 2021.|
|Family-themed responses to “Other”||
|Relaxation-themed responses to “Other”||
|Efficiency-themed responses to “Other”||
Why wait in line when you can eat?
More than 46% of participants spent their “free time”—the time spent virtually queueing—eating, drinking, or shopping.
While this seems like an obvious pastime—grabbing a drink, finding that last-minute souvenir—the implications are huge. If no one had to physically wait in line, the vast majority of travelers would end up spending money.
This is an incredible signal to airports that are focused on increasing revenue. Not only is virtual queueing a better customer flow and customer experience, but it reaps big rewards for shopping revenue, too.
Getting flight help
With a set time to enter security, instead of passive-aggressively telling their spouse they should have weighed their bag before having to unload the contents on the attendant’s desk, passengers can take their time getting the help they need with their flight and baggage. About 9% of travelers said they utilized their free time to get their flight details sorted.
Free time is meaningful.
Comments from “other” responses ran a gamut of themes, from using the restroom to walking the dog. But the best comments were heart-warming observations.
“Spent extra time with my sister,” mentioned one respondent. “I haven’t seen her in nearly 2 years.” Another wrote, “Found a bathroom for my child and didn’t have to struggle through the airport as quickly with his car seat, stroller, and carry-on,” while a new mother said she “Breastfed my infant.”
Some said they “used the restroom,” while others just wanted to do “nothing, just avoided a long line.” More productive travelers “Got work done!” or “Finished 3 tasks on animal crossing, finished world 4 on mario galaxy, took 2 selfies and 3 videos.”
But we think these comments sum it up best: “Was relaxed!! Sat and read. Hung out in a comfy chair instead of standing in the line forever. THIS IS AWESOME!!!!”
More than a year since COVID started, passengers value an efficient customer experience.
Online orders. Curbside pickup. Video appointments. When the world changed with Covid-19, customer expectations changed along with it. If things can always be this efficient, why aren’t they?
We asked travelers to rank their reasons for using the virtual queue: “In order of most to least importance, why did you choose to use SEA Spot Saver?”
Travel Priorities for Virtual Queueing
|1,038 respondents from SEA Spot Saver program, recorded by VHT in July 2021.|
|Efficiency and saving time||47.2%||37.5%||15.3%||2.32|
|Peace of mind about getting through security before my flight||35.7%||39.4%||25%||2.11|
|Avoiding crowds and congestion due to COVID-19 concerns||17.2%||23.1%||59.7%||1.57|
Efficiency is everything.
From the options given, efficiency and saving time ranked significantly higher, with 47% of respondents stating this was the primary reason they chose to use SEA Spot Saver.
Waiting in line is a waste of time. It’s not enjoyable. You can’t get other things done. But virtually queueing means wait time turns into free time, where you can use it to say goodbye to friends, grab a drink, or get work done.
Stress is another factor.
A close second priority to the traveler was peace of mind.
Airports are stressful and unpredictable. Even before entering the airport, you have to check in for your flight, find a ride, pack bags—the list goes on. If one of those factors can be removed from the equation, the entire airport experience feels better.
Knowing—even before you step foot in an airport—that you have a promised time to enter security, guaranteeing you’ll make your flight, is what turns a dreadful process into a CX marvel.
Travelers weigh in: Virtual queuing is clutch.
The final question in the survey was open ended. Of the 1,038 responses we’re using in this report, 355 people made comments, and 75% of those were positive. This indicates the overwhelmingly positive response that travelers have toward a virtual queueing system, and the overall success of this customer experience.
But, because they’re so fun to read, we’ve included a handful of comments here and categorized them into a few emerging themes.
What do you get when a family of six with toddlers walks into a confined line? It’s nothing short of a circus.
Virtual queueing works so well for families—and they let us know about it.
“Love this! So much easier w the kids. Thank You!”
“My family and I were able to avoid the stress of potentially not having enough time to get to our gate and we were able to eat and relax prior to our flight which really improved our experience!”
“Was amazing!!! Thank you for offering it to us. Stress free experience with our kids”
“Please continue program. With an infant it made flying, eating and shopping at the airport much easier!”
“Thank you for offering this service. It was very helpful and made the traveling experience much less stressful for our family.”
“Great process! Took lots of stress away from our family!!!”
There’s so much stress leading up to the point of reaching your gate. As we already covered in this report, virtual waiting means you can relax from anywhere while waiting in line. Hear more from customers that experienced it:
“Every airport should do this. Decreases traveler stress and time wasted waiting and getting to the airport super early.”
“Love how easy it was to get an appointment. Where has this service been my whole life?”
“It was my first time trying spot saver and I’m so impressed. Sign up was seamless and the security process was 100% better than the usual stressed out line wait.”
Good customer experience is also inclusive.
It can be easy to forget that there are people who are differently abled than you are. The CDC estimates that nearly one in four people in the US live with a disability.
And while that number is staggering, there aren’t a lot of options for people with disabilities to get through the airport experience. A virtual queueing solution provides another option that’s viable for a wide range of needs.
Here’s what participants had to say about the program’s impact on their needs:
“Saved my ass from standing in a long line which is difficult for me since I am autistic. Thank you so much”
“I get bad anxiety in crowds and this saved me.”
“This was absolutely fantastic! Especially since I have a hip issue and standing for long periods of time is painful. I cannot express how grateful we were.”
“Helped a lot as I was traveling with my son who recently had surgery. Saving time and avoiding a large crowd was great.”
“It was wonderful! I had been on a 2 hour shuttle to the airport and had to go to the bathroom, am 69 years old, hard to stand in one place for very long.”
“Saved so much time and stress. Can’t believe this is free and more people aren’t using this service! Thank you thank you.”
And perhaps the best comment of all:
“Y’all, where to even begin. Usually getting through security is such a complete dumpster fire of a situation (and not because of the hardworking, incredible staff of course!) simply because most people who travel suck. I’m not a fan of standing in line with people who are, bless their hearts, incompetent at life in general and have absolutely no regard for anyone outside of their narrow, selfish perspective. This saving spot feature has literally made my day. Now I’m at my gate sipping coffee! Thank you so much you’re incredible. Have a good day!!!”
The reviews of the SEA Spot Saver pilot have been glowing, and we are so proud to power such a great experience for travelers. We believe putting customers in control of their experience everywhere leads to positive outcomes for both the customer and the brand—and airport screening is no different!
Virtual queueing is the best way to help customers stay in control while getting the help they need. It’s quite simply the modern experience they expect.
Want to see how it could work at your organization? Reach out to our industry experts to see how we can apply the Mindful queueing engine on behalf of your customers.