Research Projects

Guidance for Enhancing the Customer Experience for Senior Passengers

Wheel chairs and wheel chair pushers abound in airports as the population ages. Aside from the logistics and facilities issues such as large font signage and cell phone apps, the more serious issues of passengers becoming disoriented, dealing with dementia that has not been diagnosed, losing carry-on bags or falling victim to scams while traveling are becoming more problematic. Airports require more guidance to detect passengers who may not be able to travel alone or may get lost in the facilities and not arrive at the intended destination. Research is needed to identify the scope of the challenge and effective ways to provide secure travel for aging passengers.

Background (Describe the current situation or problem in the industry, and how your idea would address it.)

According to the Alzheimer's Association, an estimated 5.8 million Americans have Alzheimer's dementia in 2019. By 2050, this number is expected to increase to 14 million. Families may not be aware of the extent of a relative's dementia and may not be aware of whether relatives are capable of traveling alone. Elderly people living alone may not be aware of their own condition and may arrange travel during lucid moments, but can become confused during travel. There have already been incidents of elderly passengers leaving the airport, getting lost and being found miles away from the airport.

Objective (What is the desired product or result that will help the airport industry?)

The objective of the research is to provide guidance to ensure that aging passengers can navigate airports , keep up with their belongings and arrive safely to their destinations without incidents. This may require training airport and airline staff, senior screening tools to determine if they are able to travel alone, customized facilities such as senior lounges and identifying best practices to meet the needs of elderly passengers. This way take the form of a guidebook and webinars.

Approach (Describe in general terms the steps you think are needed to achieve the objective.)

The approach would be to quantify elderly and passengers with dementia traveling by air in the US annually. The research would also identify potential hazards for these passengers, determine current best practices for handling elderly passengers and recommending guidelines and tools for enhancing the elderly air travel experience.

Cost Estimate and Backup (Provide a cost estimate and support for how you arrived at the estimate.)

The estimated cost would be $300,000 as a lot of original surveys and research would be required and there is not much research already available.

Related Research - List related ACRP and other industry research; describe gaps (see link to Research Roadmaps above), and describe how your idea would address these gaps. This is a critical element of a synthesis topic submission.

This is not a topic that ACRP has tackled other than to consider the needs of disabled passengers. This would be a start of the discussion that affects a large number of people throughout the country. Airlines are not able to provide staff that stays with a passenger for long periods of time. Airports need to mitigate possible risks to prevent widespread incidents of lost passengers and belongings.



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Idea No. 198