When does a flight service provided by airlines and airports to traveling passengers end? Many might say when their flight lands and the passengers have reached their destination. But it ignores the fact that baggage retrieval is yet to happen and that is one of the key items listed in customer complaints about airlines and airports. Baggage misplacement problems always are in the top three of consumer complaints and a recent survey by Boston.com showed lost baggage a close #2 behind flight delays and cancellations.*
The multitude of baggage problems experienced during the January Cyclone snowstorm shed light on this situation with photos of thousands of bags in airport holding areas without an owner. It had to be the most frustrating result of the chaos caused by the hurricane since it involved a very personal issue; the personal property of the flying public. This problem was highlighted by the Port Authority study groups and reiterated at the recent status report in June.
T1 at JFK was not waiting for the final report. Management at the terminal took the
proactive step of contacting Pacific Atlantic Handling, LLC. (PAH). In March PAH installed a Common Use Baggage Services Office into the arrivals area at Terminal 1.
Steve Rowland, Terminal One Executive Director said the technology the system uses, enhances the customer service experience, as it is able to update the passenger when modifications are made to a passenger’s claim file. In addition, the Common Use and centralized baggage control means that every passenger has one place to go when he or she does have a problem rather a slew of baggage control booths side by side representing only the large airlines. A terminal devoted to one airline can solve one problem in a common format; a terminal with over 20 airlines needs to provide a template that services a large number of carriers in a common process.
And physical locations do count because it does make it simpler to identify the one place and as a one-time international traveler, that in itself is a godsend.
And did I forget to mention “Judy”, a mobile baggage processing terminal introduced by Pacific Atlantic Handling to JFK that maintains a record of every checked bag and can process bags for delivery efficiently. She along with two other mobile terminals are ready to assist passengers wherever they may be in the terminal. Even if the very worst happens and your bag has found its way to another airport, at least you know immediately what has happened rather than head home with no bag and no idea where it is.
Neil Lott, Executive Director of PAH, said the integrated systems and operating procedures mitigate the time a passenger needs to be inconvenienced any further. The Common Use Baggage Services Office location is the place where the baggage arrives prior to delivery to the owner.
Terminal One has taken a bold step to solve one of the key problems identified by the Port Authority study groups and the LaHood investigatory team. The end objective is not simply to raise Customer Service Levels, and this will happen as a result of the new system; but to make Terminal One a preferred arrival and departure point for travelers.
*The U.S. carriers reporting mishandled baggage data posted a mishandled baggage rate per 1,000 passengers in April, 2017’s of 2.31 increasing in March 2018’s rate to 2.59.