An initiative by

An initiative by

31 Dec 2013
Quality Hunters On the hunt for better travel! Looking for the best practical ideas to make air travel smoother for you, me and everybody else.

Transfer deadline

FIN Departure area Helsinki-Vantaa airport

It’s a bittersweet moment – the plane has landed on foreign soil and you’re one step closer to your final destination, but the journey’s not quite over yet.  Connecting flights, bus transfers and taxi rides are what often await us on arrival.

Rushing around an unfamiliar airport to find where to check in for your next flight, or locating the bus which leaves in ten minutes can be a stressful experience. Add a few kids, sleep deprivation, or lack of caffeine and we’re talking potential disaster!

What would make this travelling limbo easier and more enjoyable?

Clear signage and simple instructions are a godsend when it comes to navigating your way around an airport, but what else could be done to meet everyone’s individual needs and help send you in the right direction?

The transfer process isn’t just about finding the next departure point – we all have bodily needs that require addressing like grabbing a cuppa, hitting the nearest toilet, or simply stretching our legs after sitting still for eight hours straight.

Tell us what your priorities are after arriving at an airport and what your dream transfer would be like.

  • 02 Jan 2014 at 9:47 am

    Interesting. I think there is a sort of sweet spot between having to run very fast to get to the next plane, and being bored because you have to wait too long, or even worse: being stuck in a hotel in the middle of nowhere…
    I think to make transfers more enjoyable, information is indeed key. Why not give transfer passengers some information about what they can do in the transfer time at the airport, dependent on how long they are at the airport. Let’s say they have a transfer time of 30 minutes, then the advice could be to hurry to the next gate, with maybe some indicators of where the restrooms are. For longer, they might want to spend some time shopping, have a nice Finnish dinner, or visit the book swap. You can give them ideas on what to do at the airport, and also manage the expectations. In some cases you could already give this information in the booking process. Or when sending the confirmation email.

    • Quality Hunters
      03 Jan 2014 at 7:02 am

      Information is definitely a vital component in a smooth transfer. On lots of connecting flights, or city transfers I’ve been on I found that people just follow the crowd, or listen out for other passengers who are taking the same route and stick with them. On a few occasions it’s led me in the wrong direction, but generally it’s a good tactic.

      I suppose the problem with giving too much information beforehand is plans/departure gates change, transport can be delayed, and giving the wrong information is sometimes worse than giving no information at all…

    • Niki
      03 Jan 2014 at 5:47 pm

      I really like this idea of a list of things to do depending on your wait time.

  • Mari
    03 Jan 2014 at 1:20 pm

    In my opinion there are two major topics in what makes transfer easy: A screen with flight information directly after entering the terminal + clearly marked directions&facilities at the airport. I know this in a very common level, but if you think that everything (including restrooms and other facilities) are very clearly marked, you’ll spot the necessary ways/places easy. I think Helsinki Airport is a good example of this, and my other favourite is CPH. Heathrow has improved a lot too at least in Terminal 5.

  • Niki
    03 Jan 2014 at 6:27 pm

    I have had a few situations come up where I had to bolt out of the plane and run to my next gate.I once had an hour to transfer in Moscow, but my plane was delayed by 30 minutes. I asked the flight attendant if I could move seats closer to the front of the plane, but unfortunately, this got lost in translation. :/ Instead, as soon as we landed and the seat belt sign was turned off, I ran out of the plane and had to go through a security check point. The man at security warned me that I better hurry because the plane was already boarding. I’ve never run so fast in the airport and by the time I reached my gate, I discovered that my next flight was also delayed.

    I wonder if it would be possible for those who have tight transfer times to be allowed to get off the plane sooner? Just like there is priority boarding, maybe a priority option to get off. Also, if planes could offer live flight departure information on the TVs, I think that might help ease transfer stress.

  • Susanne Metzger
    07 Jan 2014 at 11:22 am

    Mari, I agree that a flight information screen directly at the exit from the plane would be helpful but additionally there should be an indication next to the gate number about the approx. footway time to this gate. Usually there is some ground staff around who can help if someone is delayed and immediately has to transfer to the next gate.

    If I don’t have any knowledge about the airport it’s great to have the opportunity to decide whether I can take the time to go eating, catch up on my mails, power up the electronic devices or just walking around and absorb the atmosphere.

    What about an information desk right next to the exit where there is a counter for transfer passengers. I’d love to hear about the uncountable offers which I could benefit from during my waiting time. Some airports even organize city sightseeing tours which could be book directly at that counter. I’m sure this counter would improve the quality of the waiting time a lot since many passengers would benefit from it.

  • 08 Jan 2014 at 9:27 am

    There is indeed a lot to gain by providing targeted information regarding the departure gate and time of a transfer flight. When informing passengers immediately after entering the gate when disembarking the plane, indications of the transfer gate can include the direction of the gate, the estimated departure time of that flight and a count down clock to indicate the time left as well as the actual expected time of departure. In addition, indications of walking times and delays while going there are vital; when the normal walking time is 10 minutes but a delay at passport control of 20 minutes occurs, the total walking time is 30 minutes. When a passenger can compare that to the count down clock he knows he is either in trouble or on the safe side, with coloring to indicate this, e.g. a green indication is safe while a red time indication means trouble.

    Airports and airliners can cooperate in this at a high level. Indeed is priority disembarkation a good option, if possible with the actual seating in the airplane, although we all know what passengers do when the plane parks; we jump up and down to get out even over the heads of anyone in front of us.

    At the airport, priority lanes at passport control should be possible to rush passengers to their transfer flight; information about the number of passengers for that flight as well as the time left to board should be available at the airport already, even if that flight is delayed. A dedicated lane at passport control can indicate the flight numbers of critical flights for these passengers to speed up security control.

    Helsinki Airport is an excellent example of an efficient airport in many ways; flight information is displayed adequately and sufficiently and some of the logistic efforts mentioned here are available to passengers both in normal departure and transit.

  • Mari
    08 Jan 2014 at 2:11 pm

    Susanne: Yes, checking out email etc. and charging all my gadgets is something I usually want to do during transfer. And in my opinion Helsinki airport is the best one I’ve come across to do so, as there are plenty of charging stations and a well working free wifi! So within that topic, I’d give Helsinki 10/10

  • Susanne Metzger
    14 Jan 2014 at 11:26 am

    One more add-on: I just read about the possibility to rent a so called sleep-pod in Abu Dhabi airport where you can sleep or just relax in a small cocoon and at the same time power up your gadgets, watch a move or TV. I’m sure this is also something which would help shorting the waiting time and specially after a long haul improve relaxation and restfulness for the coming next leg of the trip.

  • Wojciech Lesniewski
    17 Jan 2014 at 9:29 am

    What do I need on a transfer airport:
    1. Clear information concerning transfer procedurę such as check-in gate for the next flight, transfer desk (if necessary to receive the next boarding), time to reach the gate (sometimes it is not only 10 minutes), if there is another secutity check, if I am allowed for a duty free chopping
    2. Relax zone where I can stretch my legs in silence and purchase something fresh to eat and drink
    3. Basic airport services such as showers / massage / pharmacy

    A transfer airport can be a relaxing experience but it can also turn into a horror.
    Once the airport is well prepared for transfer passengers (like in my opinion HEL) it can become an important element while chosing the next travel route.

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