WVXU / Ann Thompson / January 16, 2023
The Cincinnati Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) is looking to lower passenger stress levels in 2023 through innovation.
CVG lays claim to be the first to try “Grab and Go” robots which serve travelers in Concourse B. (now Pittsburgh and Rome, Italy have them) Customers order from a mobile app and the robot brings food right to the gate.
“Not everybody has the ability to stop at Trip Advisor, grab a couple of items and be on your way.” Airport Spokesperson Mindy Kershner says some people are unable to rush around the airport. CVG looks to expand the number of restaurants and concessions participating this year.
Self-driving baggage tractors
ThorDrive has been testing its autonomous vehicles at CVG since the beginning of 2021. The self-driving baggage tractors could eventually transport passenger luggage to and from aircraft, as WVXU reported.
CVG’s Kershner says, “The next step for us is to work with our tenant airlines and hopefully adopt and scale up a fleet of autonomous vehicles.”
Touchless technologies and biometrics
There could be a day when CVG doesn’t have kiosks. Kershner says the airport is looking into doing more with passenger phones. This could involve verifying identity, making secure payments and eliminating any printing.
When Kershner was flying to Canada she had to get her face scanned. It’s possible CVG could do some biometric testing this year. Air Canada is one airline that uses it.
Shortening lines with data
A complicated computer formula may be the reason you might see fewer bottlenecks.
Layer by layer, the airport is adding pieces to its predictive passenger persona, the most recent of which is the University of Cincinnati’s artificial intelligence. The two have signed an agreement to work together on crowd prediction.
Engineer Javier Viaña, was already seeing results when WVXU interviewed him in March, 2022.
That data is plugged into CVG’s EASE system — or Enterprise Assets Situational Exceptions — a patent-pending hardware and software program the airport began using in 2019.
Viaña’s program applies artificial intelligence to the system because there are so many variables like:
- Will passengers park a car?
- Will they check a bag?
- Are they with a group?
- When will they get food?
- Does a business traveler going to Orlando arrive the same time as a family of five?
Using fuzzy logic, which is a kind of computer decision-making that relies on degrees of truth, it can predict surges of passengers in 15-minute increments.
New airlines and destinations
By April, Breeze Airways will start flying to Charleston, S.C., Providence R.I., and San Francisco and Orange County, Calif. Direct flights to London on British Airways begin June 5. CVG is also trying to do deals with airlines for greater capacity and additional destinations.
Kershner says, “We have an amount of opportunity for existing and potential carriers to destinations in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. We also have several domestic markets we’re working to restore such as St. Louis, Kansas City, San Diego and others.”
CVG says it caters to both business and leisure travelers and a new category “bleisure.” With remote work, more people are combining business and leisure or just hopping a flight to work from someplace with better weather.
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