By Anette Gaven, Director of Marketing
Consider this airport experience . . . an elderly woman disembarks from a plane at the gate, and is led to a seat near the gate agent. A wheelchair and an attendant should already have arrived to take her to her next gate. Instead, the gate agent is on the phone trying to locate the wheelchair and assure the woman that a wheelchair will arrive there for her in time.
When the gate agent notices that the next gate over has an unused wheelchair sitting at it, she notifies her superior that she’s going to use that wheelchair instead. The woman is helped into the available chair, and is wheeled off in the wheelchair that was intended for another passenger. When the original wheelchair finally arrives, the woman is long gone, and the wheelchair attendant doesn’t realize that the wheelchair that was waiting for a different passenger is now gone. He walks back to his supervisor, unsure of what to do next. That’s surely leading to at least one unhappy passenger and unproductive time for everyone.
That’s just one simple example of how a missing airline asset causes confusion and delays for the passenger. Imagine a worst-case scenario in which there is no available nearby wheelchair and the woman misses her next flight because no one can find a wheelchair that she can use.
A busy airline can receive hundreds of requests for wheelchair access each day. According to wheelchair manufacturer Kd SmartChair, there are an estimated 3.3 million wheelchair users in the United States, and an estimated 2 million new wheelchair users every year.
From the moment passengers arrive at the front door of an airport, their experience is dictated by lines and wait times. Those lines and wait times are in turn dependent upon the availability of the airline’s assets to manage the passenger experience—baggage trollies, shuttle carts, and wheelchairs are just a few.
The less time that a passenger waits at a gate for a missing wheelchair or shuttle cart, the more time they can spend shopping, eating, paying to charge their devices at a charging kiosk, or paying for a beer and a massage. All that translates to a better passenger experience and more revenue for the airline.
The 1986 Air Carrier Access Act requires airlines to provide free wheelchair service to anyone who requests it, and no description or documentation of a disability is required. Furthermore, the airline is required to honor the wheelchair request on a first-come, first-served basis. That means someone disembarking at 3 pm and requesting a wheelchair might claim a wheelchair waiting for a 3:15 p.m. reservation. If there’s no way to quickly track down a backup wheelchair, the person who made the appointment will be underserved.
Inseego’s aviation asset tracking management system understands how connected the airlines are to their assets, and how much those assets influence airline profitability. Our sophisticated aviation asset management tools ensure that your 3:15 passenger is just as pleased as your 3 pm passenger. Every time.