Logan International Airport will be the first airport in the nation to measure the performance of airlines and hold them accountable for delivering basic customer services to the airport's 27 million passengers a year. Taking a proactive step to alleviate travelers' frustration with air travel, the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) Board authorized the agency to develop criteria to measure the performance of the airlines at Logan. The first-of-its-kind monitoring plan also will levy penalties on airlines that fail to meet the established performance standards.
Under Massport's new "Guaranteed Passenger Standards" program, a number of services will be monitored and evaluated, including baggage delivery, ticketing waiting lines, and accuracy of flight information during delays or cancellations. The standards were determined by examining the airlines' own goals. On a random basis, Massport staff will survey up to 12 airlines a month to ascertain if they are meeting Logan's customer standards for various passenger services. Massport will not monitor international airlines in Terminal E due to the major construction impacting terminal operations.
"At Logan our passengers will have rights and Massport will defend those rights," said Mark Robinson, chairman of the Massport Board. "Improving Logan means more than just new terminals, parking, and roadways, it means high quality service. The families and businesses of New England should expect nothing less."
Up to 60 checks a month will be conducted and measured against the following standards:
Delivery of first bag to carousel
Delivery of last bag to carousel
Logan's Customer Standard
Maximum of 15 minutes after aircraft arrival
Maximum of 25 minutes after aircraft arrival
Maximum of 10 minutes in line through completion of transaction
Maximum of 20 minutes in line to reach counter
Maximum of 5 minutes in line to reach security screening
Maximum of 5 minutes in line through completion of transaction
In the event of delays or cancellations, the airlines will be monitored to ensure that:
Adequate airline staff are present to assist passengers
Status updates are accurate and provided in a timely manner
Passengers are offered all available options (i.e. alternative flights or overnight accommodations.)
In addition, flights will be monitored from the FAA Control Tower to survey actual departure times for airline flights.
"We must never forget that we are in the service industry," said Virginia Buckingham, Massport Executive Director and CEO. "We are partnering with the airlines to make the Logan experience the best that it can be. Today's new standards will guarantee that our passengers are getting the most out of their airport."
When an airline fails to meet Logan's customer standards, a certified letter will be sent to the airline's local management outlining the deficiency and the expected corrective measure. Massport staff will establish a review date and allow up to 30 days for the airline to the correct the situation. If Massport officials feel that the airline has failed to provide a satisfactory improvement to the customer service, a certified letter will be sent the airline's national headquarters informing them that non-compliance after 30 days could result in penalties including the loss of gates or valuable terminal space. If the airline continues to falter in meeting the customer requirements, Massport will consider them in default and take appropriate action, including rescinding access to and use of gates, waiting areas, ticket counters, and offices at Logan Airport.
Planning for this innovative program began in October 2000 under guidance from Massport Board chair Mark Robinson. The aim is to guarantee basic services for Logan passengers in light of increasing dissatisfaction with the air travel industry. A report issued this week by the inspector general of the Department of Transportation stated that while airlines have improved certain services, more could be done to protect the flying public and enhance the traveling experience.
The report cited the areas of baggage claim, communicating information about delays and cancellations with their customers and services to passengers during long-term delays as areas where there is still room for improvement.
Massport's new customer standards for Logan are part of larger initiative to enhance service at New England's premier aviation facility. Massport is working aggressively to permit construction of a new runway at Logan to reduce the growing delays. Logan was recently ranked the sixth most delayed airport in the country. The new runway could reduce delays by more than 30% annually and provide the single best improvement for passengers at Logan.
Other improvements for customers include the revamped Massport web site with real-time traffic, parking and flight information. Massport also contracted with BAA (British Airport Authority) to upgrade and operate concessions in Terminals B, D and E. Most recently, Massport announced that it would begin providing cots, snacks, and bottled water to stranded travelers. The Authority is also engaged in an effort to expand air travel options at regional airports, supplying passengers with more choices, closer to their homes or businesses, while reducing the burden on Logan.
Operating alternative transportation options for getting and from Logan has also been a priority with the development of the new Logan Dart service, program is one of many new initiatives aimed at improving the travel experience and finding new ways to meet the needs of local travelers.