Whether it’s a plane, a passenger process or a terminal building, innovation really drives every aspect of our business.
Recently, I got my first up-close view of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, when Japan Airlines inaugurated YVR-Narita service with this game-changing aircraft.
My first impression? The head room! Walking on board feels like entering a sophisticated lounge. The LED-lighting system conveys a sense of spaciousness and light that you’ll simply not experience on any other aircraft. The leg room, overhead bin capacity, streamlined interior design and modern washrooms are all noteworthy, and passengers will notice the fact that the pressurization is higher than other airliners. But that’s just the interior. What really makes the Dreamliner revolutionary is its lighter, composite frame that helps make it faster, nimbler and 20% less fuel-thirsty. This is aircraft innovation at its best.
So what does innovation mean at YVR? We’re in the midst of a ten-year, $1.8-billion construction plan that is aimed entirely at speeding up connection times for passengers using YVR as a stopover between A and B. We’ve got some great partners working with us to develop a high-tech, high-speed baggage system that will help move connecting passengers’ bags through our airport in less than an hour. In this case, good ideas will lead to time savings for our passengers. And that efficiency is essential if we want to continue to be a global gateway.
Social media innovation has changed the scope of customer care and communications at YVR. We’re a very socially active airport, using Twitter to provide travel tips, interesting links and breaking news updates to our almost 17,000 followers. We also respond to customer enquiries in real time, 24 hours a day, using this innovative and now ubiquitous social platform.
Technological innovation has helped us speed up, streamline and simplify the airport experience, from curb to cabin. We continue to see great response to YVR’s Automated Passport Control system we call Border Xpress. This homegrown solution speeds up the border clearance process. If you’re a Canadian or U.S. passport-holder and have travelled to a U.S. destination from YVR recently, you will have used the Automated Passport Control kiosks to expedite the U.S. Customs process. In fact, this YVR innovation is making its way across North America, with other major international airports now using APC, including JFK, SEA-TAC and Chicago O’Hare. And this is just the tip of the iceberg with this technology. Stay tuned for an exciting announcement coming in March.
Another great idea that’s under construction right now is the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Vancouver Airport, a luxury designer retail centre that will open in spring of 2015 on Sea Island. Not only will this project draw local shoppers and delight international travellers, it will also employ about 1,000 local people. Plus, this is an innovative way that we can generate revenue that goes right back into our airport, to keep YVR a major local employer, economic driver and global gateway, and to keep airline costs down
Even closer to home, we’ve recently launched a program called Test Flight for Airport Authority employees. Inspired by the crowd-sourcing phenomenon, the idea is to generate ideas - to capture, fund and bring to life the very best concepts for streamlining operations and saving money, by the people who know this business the best – our employees. I can’t wait to see what creative solutions emerge as the program gets underway. And we’ll keep you posted on the results.
What kind of innovation would you like to see at your local airport, or onboard your favourite airline? What’s your great idea for airport travel? We want to know. Leave a comment here, or Tweet us @yvrairport.
Until next month, stay safe.