Integrating Health Requirements into the Travel Ecosystem


By Sherry Stein, Head of Technology Strategy, SITA

Many countries require landing cards or declaration forms as part of the customs and immigration process; most are distributed as paper forms and collected upon entry at the border. Many forms not only provide valuable contact-tracing information, requiring a traveler to provide a local address while in the country, but can also include health-related disclosures. For instance, “Have you visited a farm during your stay?” helps determine risk of exposure and possible transmission of BSE (mad-cow disease).

Health-related questions on customs & immigration declaration forms have often been an important consideration in obtaining a traveler’s self-reported disclosure for possible exposure for various infectious diseases – such as SARS, MERS, H1N1, and recently, COVID19 – and can help guide efforts in managing epidemic and pandemic response. The importance of health-related processes in travel remains paramount and now more evident than ever.

The digital-shift continues to transform border-management processes, accelerating the ability to coordinate and manage a global response to threats of new epidemics before reaching pandemic-level crisis and, ideally, pre-empt the need to lock down borders.

Health Protect offers a collaborative industry approach to addressing the evolving requirement to include health status checks as part of the travel process – and offers the ability to do so with little disruption to existing industry processes.

  • During airline check-in (mobile or kiosk), the traditional advance passenger process checks can now add accompanying verification of health declaration status, allowing an airline to issue a boarding pass via self-service, without having to visually assess a printed COVID19 test result at the ticket counter.
  • Based on the holistic process, an airline and border-agency are able to make board/no-board decisions that reduce risk of inadmissible travelers being denied entry on arrival or being subject to quarantine or additional testing.

Recently we conducted a trial with SimplyGo in which travelers flying from Germany and Estonia to the United Arab Emirates obtained a negative COVID-19 result via their SimplyGo app before traveling. Integration with the UAE government systems was made possible through the Advance Passenger Processing (APP) platform delivered by SITA. This allowed airlines to offer self-service passenger processing without needing to manually or visually inspect the test results; the verification had already been completed by the UAE border officials.

In April 2021, supporting Sovrin Foundation principles, Aruba introduced the Happy Traveler Card, a self-sovereign identity solution that allowed travelers to Aruba to receive a digital health credential, issued by the Aruba Health Ministry, providing access to services, restaurants and other amenities throughout the island. The solution is based on Linux Foundation’s Cardea code, an open-source ecosystem for exchanging privacy-preserving digital health certificates. A trusted, government-issued digital credential confirms that the traveler’s identity has been correctly verified and linked to a negative test-result. Local service providers (hotels, restaurants, casinos) can rely upon the Happy Traveler Card to grant access to services without access to personal information or having to see the paper test result.  The green check tells them all they need to know.

2021 has seen a growing focus on collaborative initiatives for introducing digital health credentials, or health passports, that can reduce fraud and incorporate digital-identity solution principles. SITA is exploring a collaborative industry approach that integrates the various health-oriented solutions with the existing travel ecosystem.

There is no doubt that COVID-19 has had a dramatic impact on the travel industry. It has also created an opportunity to accelerate digital progress, re-emphasize the importance of health in borders management and international travel, and creates an opportunity to increase the resilience of our processes should we face another epidemic or global pandemic in the future.

How to Build a Post-COVID Customer Experience Action Plan


By Liliana Petrova, Founder and CEO, The Petrova Experience

As we welcome the new wave of travelers, ensuring safe, seamless experiences is make-or-break for airports in the next 6 months. It is incumbent upon airports to create human-centered experiences that alleviate customer anxiety and transform passengers into advocates for travel. To do this, airport operators must serve passengers differently, both in the terminal and online.  But where do you begin? You can start by making a Post-Covid Customer Experience Action Plan.

CX Assessment

The first step of the Post – Covid Customer Experience Plan is a CX Assessment -a  comprehensive evaluation of the experience you currently offer.

Before you start your CX Assessment, do a mindset check. Do not think like yourself. For you, the terminal is your second home. Instead, think like an anxious traveler who has not been in an airport for a year, who may still have doubts that she/he should be there at all.

This is not merely an ideation exercise; it should involve interviewing customers to hear their voice and spending time in your terminal and on your website as if you are traveling that day. Divide your assessment into sections: Communications and Hospitality; Services and Entertainment; and Amenities.

Digital Experience: Build Connection and Alleviate Anxiety

Think about being at home, ready to make your first trip of 2021. Check your airport website. Is your website language alleviating or increasing anxiety?

Can you easily find:

1) information about airport expectations and/or regulations regarding masks, concessions working hours, suspended services, etc.

3) updates on airport construction projects

4) relevant wayfinding information

Physical Experience: Strengthen Connection and Promote Confidence

Next, examine the physical experience. Walk through the terminal as if you have never flown out of your airport. How clear is the wayfinding?

Now, think about the service changes to travel following COVID. Do you have any kind of substitutes for the in-person volunteers? Digital/self-service concierge solutions, virtual volunteers, even robots that roam the airport are all ways for your volunteers to maintain strong connections with your guests remotely.

The final, crucial, step of the Airport CX Assessment, is to check if your airport is inclusive. Put yourself in the position of an individual in need of a wheelchair, or a parent with a young child. Are there support services that are still not available because of COVID? Lastly, if you are an international airport, are there any communication materials for passengers explaining local COVID protocols and other important information?

Programming and Funding

Once you have completed the CX Assessment, identify and categorize gaps and opportunities in your guest’s journey. Formalize those aggregate findings into a program that includes projects that close customer experience gaps in the next 6-12 months. Now, you are ready to secure CX funding.

Getting funded can be an even greater challenge than designing transformative customer experiences. To streamline the process and start delivering better travel experiences fast, remember to align your thinking and communication with your brand strategy. Leverage the data you gathered in the CX Assessment, share your programming ideas, and connect your CX program outcomes with your airport’s bottom line.

Do not be afraid to create a sense of urgency. This is a classic case of “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” We have one chance to meet our returning travelers where they are. And to pave the way for a return to travel that sustains and uplifts our industry.

For help executing your Customer Experience Action Plan in time to welcome your new travelers, contact The Petrova Experience.

ACI-NA Joins Collaboration to Honor Aviation Heroes of 9/11

By Tom Murphy, Director, Human Resiliency Institute, Fordham University

The airport industry is no stranger to adversity. We have faced many challenges over the years, though none can stand against September 11, 2001 and the COVID-19 pandemic. These crises, nearly two decades apart, represent the greatest disruptions aviation has ever seen. However, resilience is the hallmark of the airport industry. We always respond, no matter the challenge and that spirit will never give way to defeat.

The 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001 is drawing near at a time when the airport industry is moving steps forward on the path to recovery from COVID-19. This presents an opportunity to reflect on the obstacles that resulted from September 11th, learn and apply those principles to the existing crisis.

Fordham University’s Human Resiliency Institute is working in partnership with other aviation industry organizations, including ACI-NA, to give today’s aviation workers and students an opportunity to learn resiliency lessons from September 11th’s aviation heroes.

The project, Reclaiming the Sky Resiliency Essay Competition, will be part of a tribute to aviation workers on the 20th Anniversary of September 11th later this year. This project draws on the courageous stories of airport and airline workers in Boston, New Jersey, New York, Washington, D.C. and Shanksville, PA, profiled in Tom Murphy’s book, Reclaiming the Sky: 9/11 and the Untold Story of the Men and Women Who Kept America Flying.

The essay competition will kick off on Wednesday, April 21 with a webinar featuring representatives from several organizations and others in aviation to collaboratively put a focus on the courage of aviation workers on September 11th and make “Never Forget” into an action statement.

In addition, ACI-NA’s Human Resources Committee will assist in leading an awareness campaign at its member airports to promote this project.

The essay competition is divided into three categories: Airport Workers, Airline Employees (including flight attendants and pilots,) and Students. The award in the Airport category will be named for the late Susan Baer, former General Manager of Newark Liberty International Airport on September 11, 2001 where Flight 93 departed. The Airline category will be named for Ken and Jennifer Lewis, husband and wife flight attendants who perished on Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon. The Student category will named for Marianne MacFarlane and Jesus Sanchez, two United Airlines agents at Boston Logan International Airport who perished on Flight 175 that crashed into the South Tower. Honorable Mention awards will be named for Betty Ong, the American Airlines flight attendant who called in from Flight 11 to report the hijackers. Awards of $1000 will be presented for each category.

Essays will be accepted online at reclaimingthesky.com until Tuesday, August 10. The announcement of the winners will be made in early September as part of the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001.

For full details on the project, and to register, please visit reclaimingthesky.com. Program details can also be seen in a video clip here.

Best Practices Can Help Airports Mitigate Growing Vendor and Third-Party Cybersecurity Risk


By Michael Corcione, Partner, HKA Global, Inc.

In recent years, cyber-attackers have preyed upon the weaknesses of vendors and third parties to access computer systems at hospitals, banks, financial services firms, retailers, utilities, transportation systems, and other critical infrastructure.

Airports are similarly vulnerable.  Outside vendors or third parties provide services or support for nearly every part of airports’ ecosystems, including air traffic systems, passenger ticketing, baggage handling, transport systems, parking management, communications, security, concessions, and payment systems.

While airports’ security controls may be well hardened, those of their vendors may be more easily breached. Mitigating this growing area of risk requires a thoughtful mix of careful planning, objective monitoring, and diligent management.

Vendor and third-party risk management must start with a solid policy that identifies how an airport will assess, manage, monitor, remediate and, in some cases, accept risks.

Since all vendors and third parties aren’t equal in terms of security protocols, the airport’s risk management policy must outline how it will risk-rate its vendors. This risk-rating has many components, with the heaviest weighting in two categories:  1) What is the vendor or third party’s level of access to the airport’s most sensitive data, key systems, and business processes?  The more access, the higher the risk. 2) What is the vendor’s maturity level?  Maturity is a reflection of several characteristics, including the length of time a vendor has been in business, its size, and the history of the product or service it offers. Generally, the more mature a company is in these categories, the more secure it is likely to be.

Risk assessments also should answer other questions:  Has the vendor or third-party kept up on its security investments? Does it train its own employees in risk management? What are its plans for cyber-incident response and recovery? How does it manage its own vendor and third-party risk? (Which, essentially, becomes a “fourth-party” risk for the airport.)

It may be prudent to request a copy of the vendor’s cyber- and information-security procedures.  Also, scrutinize the vendor’s financial posture, reputation, and compliance with laws and regulations. On-site visits also may be a good idea, especially if the company is providing data-hosting services.

Potential vendors should demonstrate that their cybersecurity program meets industry standards and, ideally, are certified by a reputable external auditor.

Airports should implement their own control systems for vendor and third-party risk-rating, due-diligence, on-boarding, continuous monitoring, and off-boarding. There are several risk management software programs on the market. In most cases, one solution alone may not be enough, and airports should select tools based on their immediate and long-term needs and budgets.

Industry organizations can help. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) provides guidance and latest updates on cybersecurity standards and regulations. Its January 2021 report includes crucial developments and links to knowledge centers of leading industry watchdogs:  Compilation of Cyber Security Regulations, Standards, Guidance for Civil Aviation.

Training can be invaluable in on-boarding new vendors and managing overall vendor risk and should be updated as new technologies—and new risks—emerge.

Finally, it’s important to remember that cyber-attackers aren’t going away. To effectively manage and minimize risk, airports must establish, maintain and continually improve a comprehensive cybersecurity program that manages risk at all levels and at all touch points.  While the task is not easy, it is achievable. Given the nature of an airport’s operations, its place in the community and local economy, and the number of people who pass through it every day, failure cannot be an option.

The information provided in this article is intended for general educational purposes only—it does not constitute legal, accounting, or other professional advice, and it should not be relied upon as the basis for your business decisions.

For HKA’s white paper and expanded thought leadership on how Best Practices Can Help Airports Mitigate Growing Vendor and Third-Party Cybersecurity Risk, please click here.

# # #

Michael Corcione is a Partner at HKA, which provides multi-disciplinary risk mitigation and dispute resolution services to clients worldwide. Mr. Corcione has more than 30 years of experience in advising companies and boards of directors on technology, cybersecurity and privacy and risk management strategies. Over the past decade, he has led the delivery of Virtual Chief Information Security Officer (vCISO) services for advisory firms, which provide a CISO, along with cyber, privacy, and information security subject-matter experts, to organizations of all sizes and verticals. He is a member of the cybersecurity advisory board at Pace University, and a member of the Board of Trustees of the American Management Association International.

Leveraging Brand Values to Win back Customer Confidence

By Roel Huinink, President & CEO, JFKIAT

At JFKIAT our T4 is MORE culture is driven by our greatest asset, our people and community. However, as an air terminal with 12,000 employees and numerous stakeholders, sustaining a customer-centric culture is an ongoing effort. Together with our partners at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), we align our T4 is MORE customer experience program with their WE SOAR program to create a consistent and holistic customer-centric culture. Over time, this strong cultural foundation has allowed us to be resilient, persevere, and win back customer confidence.

“MORE” or “Making Outstanding Rewarding Experiences,” is delivered by thoughtfully acting on our brand values that each employee wears on their lanyard: Be Happy and Friendly, Be Informative, Be Safe and Be Memorable and are directly aligned with our efforts to win back customer confidence in air travel.

Be Happy and Be Friendly

It’s been said that happy employees create happy customers, and we agree. Although it would have been easy to cancel the 2020 Employee Appreciation Day event due to the pandemic, we decided to move on with this beloved event to create cheer and show empathy and appreciation when it was most needed.

Creating a community culture is key, especially in the midst of a pandemic. We approach our stakeholders, service providers and airline customers as partners in our shared success and ask for their collaboration and feedback at all levels. After implementing our initial COVID-19 response and recovery initiatives, we actively surveyed our airline customers to measure effectiveness and gain improvement insights.

Be Informative

Being informative is at the core of what we do, and customers are quick to ask any one of our employees a question. This year we transformed our traditional T4 is MORE classroom training to a new interactive and gamified web-based training. From the beginning of the pandemic we have consistently communicated with employees via our online T4 Safe Travel Resource Center, T4 is MORE email newsletter, and virtual T4 community meetings.

Be Safe

Safety is our highest priority and creating a safe environment that wins back customer confidence depends on our employees’ behaviors and actions. For example, we have methodically increased our deep cleaning routines throughout the terminal using anti-viral solutions and electrostatic cleaning in high touch areas. Optics are critical to building customer confidence and our cleaning employees are highly visible.

Throughout the pandemic, JFKIAT’s Health and Wellness pilot program has tested Thermo Temperature platforms from FLIR, Thales, and Omnisense. We are now testing the Health Pass by CLEAR thermal temperature screening platform. We also continue to closely collaborate with the PANYNJ and all of our stakeholders, including the CDC and the New York State Department of Health, to support them in their efforts to create a safe environment.

Be Memorable

As part of our larger COVID-19 response and recovery initiatives, we developed a communications strategy to generate awareness, educate and inform both employees and customers of what to expect and what is required of them to keep everyone safe.

Rather than implementing the standard institutional instructional strategy, we developed and executed S.M.I.L.E at T4. This multichannel digital and print campaign personifies the ‘Be Memorable’ brand value, and brings positivity while informing and educating.

Although this a small sample of what we’ve done here at T4 to successfully leverage our brand values to win back customer confidence, we hope that you can apply this learning to increase customer confidence and regain business.

The Importance of Employee Resilience


By Roel Huinink, President & CEO, JFKIAT

This past year has disrupted and accelerated the pace of change in people, processes, place and technology across all aspects of the aviation industry. Although we are faced with daily uncertainty, we continue to be flexible, collaborate, share and explore new ways to adapt to the new normal of air travel.

After nearly a year of pandemic operations, it’s become clear that this accelerated pace of transformative change we’ve experienced in 2020 will remain with us for the foreseeable future. A term we have heard industry leaders use throughout the pandemic is resilience – the ability to recover quickly from difficult situations. Based on what we’ve learned at JFKIAT, resilience is just as important to reinforce within an organization’s culture as is crisis response to a global pandemic.

We have prioritized the health and safety of our employees throughout the crisis and as a result, we have a strong culture of unity and placed that first and foremost during this crisis.  We have not only persevered, but have also witnessed our community and partners go above and beyond to ensure a safe and secure environment to win back customer confidence. Thanks to our experiences, we encourage and believe deeply the value of building and maintaining a resilient employee culture.

Ensure safety and provide reassurance within the workplace

As essential workers, our employees at T4 have been on the front lines throughout the crisis. For many, this crisis began long before the U.S. response was widespread. Back in January 2020, due to CDC recommendations, our teams were meeting Wuhan flights alongside our government partners. We remained the only terminal at JFK operating 24/7 throughout the entire pandemic, and even as we saw decreases in flight and passenger traffic, our employees continued to come to work every day for 12 hour shifts to maintain separated workforces for social distancing.

In the early months of the pandemic, our team developed a multi-faceted, comprehensive response and recovery campaign to ensure the safety and wellbeing of customers and employees. To keep employees safe, we stockpiled PPE to ensure that our staff had the proper protective gear to perform their work, conducted numerous temperature check pilots for passengers and employees, and worked with XpresCheck to launch the country’s first COVID-19 testing facility at an air terminal to make testing conveniently available for our employees and travelers right in the arrivals hall at T4.

Reinforce your mission

A recent ACI study found that 80% of respondents were confident that airports and airlines are providing a safe environment.  Still, we have more work to do to demonstrate that airports are taking the right safety measures to restore customer confidence.

At JFKIAT, a cornerstone of our mission is to provide the highest levels of safety and security, and we have worked very hard to incorporate that mission into every aspect of our culture at T4. Reinforcing that mission became a critical aspect of our efforts to keep T4 safe throughout the pandemic.

Our core values became even more important as our employees implemented enhanced cleaning processes, followed new social distancing procedures, and worked to relieve customers’ anxiety during their travels. Reinforcing your core “why” is important to keep employees, and leaders alike, focused on what really matters – especially in times of crisis.

Express gratitude and appreciation

Keeping our employees and partners informed and connected was essential to our efforts as we dealt with the pandemic’s impacts, and in every communication, we let them know how grateful we were for their contributions to the T4 community. We launched a social media series, Heroes of T4, to spotlight our employees’ exceptional work, launched an employee “thank you” video within the first few months of the crisis, and hosted an Employee Appreciation Day over the summer to express our thanks for their dedication. Continually communicating gratitude to our staff has helped us to boost morale and maintain a positive environment at T4.

We recognized every aspect of this pandemic and response was not easy for most. Our industry and employees will be changed forever. If we have made a positive impact on our community to ensure they know we support their safety, security, health and well-being first and foremost goes a long way – and is the single most important aspect to restore customer confidence.  We care about every single person that walks through our doors and we prove that every day. As we look to the future, I believe that resilience within an organization’s culture will be critical as the aviation industry continues to transform.

Mask Over Matter: Communicating in the Age of the Mask

By Lise D’Andrea, CXE

So, here we are, facing our new reality behind a mask. Since the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended the use of cloth masks or face covering in early April to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we have been struggling with our new normal of trying to talk, listen and breathe behind masks. Compounded by physical distancing, from the boardroom to the frontline we find ourselves in uncharted customer experience territory.

In many countries around the globe, face coverings and masks are usually only worn by healthcare professionals or for religious or cultural observances. Overnight, this changed. While a seemingly simply and small shift, the impacts on how we communicate are profound. For those not used to wearing a face covering, many find it hard to breathe and talk, that words appear muffled, and that to be heard you have to almost yell.

Beyond words, human beings have long relied on reading entire facial expressions to reduce misunderstandings and guide interactions. The eyes and mouth provide some of the greatest clues to feelings and intent. Now, a smile that signifies a friendly hello and a chance to build understanding is covered. In the travel and hospitality industries, where the first step of customer service has always been to smile, we find ourselves having to rethink our approach.

A recent article by the BBC, “How face masks affect our communication,” shares that all is not lost. If we take cues from other cultures and professions accustomed to masks and face covering and amplify our body language, we can continue to create positive and meaningful connections with customers and coworkers.

While there are several ways to overcome the barriers of masks, these five techniques can quickly place you on the path to overcoming the “mask challenge”:

Eye Contact: Eye contact is the go-to means to make a connection with people. Continually scan to make eye contact with others around you to create connections and help proactively spot the needs of others.

Eye Gestures: It is possible to say a lot without saying anything at all – especially with your eyes. Gestures made with eyebrows, eye lids and overall eye movements can help customers better understand you, and you them.

Head and Facial Gestures: Although your face is covered, you can still support your voice with gestures using your head and face. For example, a tilted head for questions and “smiling” eyes can help deliver your message.

Hand Gestures: Hand gestures can be the megaphone for communication tactics. From a thumbs up to a wave, hand gestures help to clearly reinforce verbal and nonverbal communication.

Active Listening skills: Active listening skills are vital when you are masked, and facial and verbal cues are limited. Nodding and leaning-in show that you are listening.

In this new age of social distance, customer experience dynamics are evolving. Honing your communication skills can lead to increased confidence, stronger customer and coworker relationships, and less frustration and disappointment. As we navigate our new normal for customer and employee experiences, an innovative reality will redefine how we communicate, connect, and carry on to chart a new course towards customer experience excellence.

Lise D’Andrea is the Founder and CEO of CXE (formerly Customer Service Experts), an organization that specializes in helping airports, hospitality, food and beverage, retail, business, and government clients to define and deliver innovative and successful customer (CX) and employee experience (EX) programs. Harnessing over 25 years of experience developing customer and employee experience strategies, CXE has developed a practical eBook guide, “Mask Over Matter,” to help businesses quickly adjust to a society where mask wearing is prevalent. In August, CXE also plans to release an employee-centric, interactive, web-based training designed to acclimate employees to the new post-pandemic workplace and help them continue to make meaningful connections with customers.