How Singapore Airlines Is Improving Connections At London Heathrow

Singapore Airlines will be the launch airline for the digital version of the Star Alliance Connection Service. While time-pressed passengers making tight connections at airports may already be familiar with the handy service, the new digital version will be available on your smartphone. It will provide updated transfer information and intuitive navigational services through your smartphone at major hub airports, beginning with Heathrow.

Singapore Airlines is rolling out a digital version of the Star Alliance Connection Service at Heathrow. Photo: Getty Images

Singapore Airlines the launch airline for a new Star Alliance app

The digital version of the Star Alliance Connection Service has been a while coming. Twenty-six airlines make up Star Alliance, but Singapore Airlines has got the gong here, becoming the first airline to use the app.

“Launching the Connection Service on the SingaporeAir mobile app, in partnership with Star Alliance, is part of our efforts to use digital technologies to provide a more seamless end-to-end journey to our customers,” said Singapore Airlines Executive Vice President Commercial, Mr Lee Lik Hsin in comments provided to SImple Flying.

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The digital connection service will be available on Singapore Airlines’ mobile app. Initially, it’s going to be about connecting at London Heathrow’s Terminal 2. With almost all Star Alliance airlines flying into Heathrow, that terminal handles nearly 500,000 interline connections annually. After Singapore Airlines beds the digital connection service down at Heathrow, ironing out the inevitable bugs, Star Alliance plans to launch the app at other key hub airports around the world.

The digital connection service app will initially focus on Heathrow’s Terminal 2. Photo: Getty Images

“We know that it can be challenging at times for customers to navigate through large, unfamiliar airports when connecting from one flight to another, especially when unexpected delays have an impact on the connecting time,” says Christian Draeger, Customer Experience Vice President at Star Alliance.

“The digital Connection Service is designed to provide our customers with easy and intuitive guidance at their fingertips, making transferring a smooth, frictionless and, now, touchless experience.”

Digital connection service app to complement the existing ground team

Traditionally, the Star Alliance Connection Service relies on a customer service team at airports where it operates. When an incoming flight gets delayed and connection times get squeezed, the connection service team flag the passengers and works to smooth out any possible problems.

That could be as simple as meeting you at the arrival gate and whisking you and any bags from the aircraft’s belly to the connecting plane pronto. Or, it could be a matter of rescheduling you onto another flight.

Presently, the connection service is available at 11 airports across North America and Europe. The digital version will help solve some simple problems, like terminal navigation, leaving the staff to deal with more complex connection problems.

The digital app will tell you the best way to get from your arrivals gate to the next departures gate. It will display the route alongside the distance and the time it will take to walk there.  In the case of critical connections, passengers can receive a digital express connection card that allows expedited passage through certain checkpoints.

The digital app will complement the existing staff on the ground. Photo: Star Alliance

Star Alliance leaning towards more contactless services

Some might lament the lack of human interaction here. But in the current environment, others might welcome the lack of contact. Mr Draeger says;

“The digital Connection Service is but one of several technological advances Star Alliance will be communicating to address the need for contactless services.”

In any case, the app is not intended to replace the existing connection service workers; it’s designed to complement them.

What do you think? Is this a good idea or a bad idea? Is minimizing person to person contact the way of the future at airports? Post a comment and let us know.