Becoming a passenger - exploring the passenger experience and airport design

Ph.D.-project by Andrea Victoria Hernandez Bueno

The key aim is to explore the real and continuous passenger experience with Copenhagen Airport (CPH) as the case. This is important since the way passengers experience aeromobility is in a continuous flow of movements through zones owned by different authorities and companies. The key hypothesis is understanding the situational and continuous passenger (end-user) experience, that will provide new insights and knowledge needed in order to optimize level of service, felt security, customer satisfaction and airport performance. By focusing on the ‘real’ experience of the mobile passenger, the project provides new knowledge about the situational mobility that is the corner stone of all transport activity. Knowledge in this project will be vital for discussing what level of passenger service that is experienced as well as it will uncover underused potentials by exploring the experience of the end-user. The expected outcome is detailed knowledge about the physical spaces and the design of airports (airport spaces catalogue), which subsequently will be tested in the airport through a selected area(s). The project develops a ‘Situated Mobilities Cross-methodology’ (Jensen, Smith, Christensen, Hernandez 2017) compound by seven key methods applied in different stages.

The first stage consist on architectural and design-oriented mapping and registration methods in order to describe the architectural and physical layout of the airport (primarily video, technical drawings, wayfinding system, and photo registrations). Qualitative research interviews with people working and travelling within the system, a number of questions connected to the immediate experiences of ‘becoming a passenger’ as well as to the professional experience of passenger handling in the airport will be targeted; ethnographic field study, to explore the actual situations in the airport and how they orchestrate the processing of passengers.

The second stage represents an innovative experiment, the application of eye tracking technologies to a smaller number of selected passengers, which it will build a triangular set of data to supplement the oral and verbal account from the interviewed passengers. Selected travelers are asked to participate in more in-depth studies; these will apply the ‘go-along’ interview (Kusenbach 2003; Jiron 2011; Büscher et. al. 2011); focus group interviews and participatory observations, based on the five previous methods.

The final stage is a 1:1 architectural scale intervention by re-design selected airport spaces, to explore potential interventions in accordance with the traveler’s experiences. The affordances created by particular design interventions will include relatively traditional approaches such as changed signage systems as well as the subtler discussions of ‘nudging through physical design’.

Project period: March 2017 – February 2020
Researcher: Andrea Victoria Hernandez Bueno, Ph.D. student
Supervisors: Ole B. Jensen and Shelley Smith  
Research institution: Department of Architecture, Design and Media Technology, Aalborg University

For further information, please contact:  Andrea Victoria Hernandez Bueno