Why airports are using automated boarding gates

Mathias Lauterbach
Posted by Mathias Lauterbach
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Discover why airports are using automated boarding gates to revolutionize transport. Explore innovations in airport security with Gunnebo.

In the decade before the global pandemic, airports became busier than ever. Estimates made in 2016 projected that around 7.2 billion passengers would travel by 2035. The COVID-19 crisis upended those projections, but after a tough couple of years airports have started to bounce back. IATA (International Air Transport Association) data shows that in March 2022, passenger numbers had returned to roughly 2019 levels.

To deal with increasing passenger numbers, airports have to find new ways to drive efficiency. Using technology such as automated boarding gates, airports can ensure that they maximise the value of each customer without wasting time in long, frustrating queues.

Innovative airports have recognised the essential link between improved customer experience and revenue potential, even if commercial airlines haven’t yet made the connection. In fact, a recent report even made the case that each US airline is failing to tap estimated revenues of $1.4 billion (USD) annually because they aren’t investing enough in customer experiences.

automated boarding gates

Airports are exploring solutions that help them board customers faster for four, significant reasons:

Avoid queues: Airports have a negative reputation for long queues and passport checks
● Faster boarding: Smoother boarding processes make for a better customer experience
● Improve turnaround airline processes: Quicker turnaround times for airlines creates competitive value, encouraging more investment in services and expanded routes
● More time is money: Customers can spend a greater proportion of their time in and amongst retailers in the airport, increasing spend per traveler.

Nowhere is the advance in technology more pronounced than in the field of automation. With highly developed systems, airports can dramatically slash waiting times without needing to compromise security. Whatsmore, early evidence shows that customers are finding automated processes an overwhelmingly positive experience.

Proof of increasing customer satisfaction at automated airports

The repetitive nature of airport checks makes them a perfect candidate for automation. Humans struggle to concentrate on extremely mundane tasks, such as checking similar documentation for a queue of passengers.

Automation offers a way to streamline tasks like passenger onboarding, as has been the case at Swedavia. The state-owned airport has achieved boarding times that are 20-30 times faster than before they introduced their automated pre-security and boarding gates in 2014. Customers, perhaps unsurprisingly, have appreciated the change. The airport has registered a boost of 18% in customer satisfaction scores registered at Swedavia airport.

“The biggest value for the passenger for the passengers is that these solutions give a smooth, efficient and simple way of travelling,” Anna Arfors Business Development Manager

With less time spent on manual processing, airport staff can be reassigned to other tasks that can’t be automated, such as providing human-to-human customer service and support. As a result, automated boarding gates are one of the best ways for airports to redouble their efficiency and prepare for rising demand in air travel.

A matter of time: Giving airport staff the time to be customer experience ambassadors

According to research, consumers don’t necessarily need to have the perfect customer experience at every touchpoint in a journey. Rather, customers value being given the right experience within individual moments. Providing a smooth onboarding experience, every time, can make a significant difference to customer satisfaction, whether or not the rest of the experience has been less ideal elsewhere in their journey.

But what about security? Can automated boarding gates really provide a reliable substitute for human discretion given the safety requirements of air travel?

automated boarding gates

Facing the future with biometrics

In recent years, biometrics has come a long way, transforming into highly sophisticated systems that use AI and computer recognition software to verify the authenticity of users. Most commercial banking apps now feature some form of authentication software in their devices, so it’s not surprising that airports are also using the technology for security checks.

The following decade will see even more advanced technologies will become more widespread, reducing waiting times further.

Using automated boarding gates for a competitive customer experience

For airports, there can’t be any trade-off between security and expedience. Automated boarding gates help to balance the equation, providing a unique opportunity to both increase revenue and customer satisfaction for airports.

Rapid boarding is the key to ensuring the customers have as much time as possible to invest in the goods and services airports have to offer. Technology can help to remove some of the roadblocks standing in the way of airport passenger growth, driving up capacity at a time when airports need increased footfall more than ever.

Encourage greater spending per visitor with automated boarding gates solutions from Gunnebo


Optimise the customer experience at your airport to increase satisfaction and maximise revenue potential. Recover from the pandemic faster with a competitive, streamlined experience that doesn’t compromise on security.

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