Runway Hits: How Airlines are Using Music and Boarding Innovation to Cut Delays
Runway Hits: How Airlines are Using Music and Boarding Innovation to Cut Delays - The Power of the Playlists - How Music Sets the Mood
The right playlist can be an incredibly powerful tool for setting the mood in any environment, and airlines are discovering just how effectively curated music can elevate the airport and in-flight experience. Rather than allowing the drone of jet engines or the din of passenger chatter to dominate the soundscape, many leading carriers are strategically using music selections to influence customer emotions and behaviors.
Delta Airlines made headlines when it began testing boarding music designed to soothe travelers and reduce stress. The tailored playlists feature nature sounds and acoustic covers of popular songs, providing a gentle aural backdrop as passengers settle into their seats. Customer response has been overwhelmingly positive so far.
"People were talking about how calming it was at the gate while they were getting on," said Delta's VP of Customer Experience. "Music can have a very big impact on people's moods and how they feel."
United Airlines has also tapped into music's mood-elevating powers by partnering with musicians to produce exclusive boarding playlists. Pieces were commissioned to evoke feelings of wonder and joy specifically during the pre-flight phase.
Even budget airline giant Ryanair has adopted boarding music, inviting local bands to perform acoustic sets at the gates. Airline executives say it "sets the tone for a great trip" by creating a relaxed vibe.
Outside the aircraft itself, Cleveland Hopkins International Airport made headlines when it introduced a live piano player near its security checkpoints. Alternating classical compositions and pop covers, this novel approach was meant to ease traveler stress and brighten spirits.
According to the airport's COO, "We know there's a lot of stress that's involved with air travel...so we're just trying to make it as relaxing and soothing as possible while you're going through security."
Indeed, studies show that the right kind of music can lower heart rate and blood pressure. When played in chaotic spaces like airports, it can actually trigger the body's "relaxation response."
What else is in this post?
- Runway Hits: How Airlines are Using Music and Boarding Innovation to Cut Delays - The Power of the Playlists - How Music Sets the Mood
- Runway Hits: How Airlines are Using Music and Boarding Innovation to Cut Delays - Tuning Into Efficiency - Airlines Use Music to Streamline Boarding
- Runway Hits: How Airlines are Using Music and Boarding Innovation to Cut Delays - Following the Rhythm - Beats to Reduce Wait Times at Gates
Runway Hits: How Airlines are Using Music and Boarding Innovation to Cut Delays - Tuning Into Efficiency - Airlines Use Music to Streamline Boarding
While mood-setting is a major benefit of boarding music, several carriers are also discovering it can directly boost efficiency. The right tempo, rhythm and genre can actually help passengers settle into their seats faster.
For airlines, even shaving off mere minutes can make a big difference operationally. According to Aviation Analytics Consulting, a Boeing 737 can save $74 for every minute saved at the gate. Shortening boarding by just 5 minutes could mean nearly $400 in savings per flight.
Recognizing these gains, Japan Airlines decided to test boarding music's power to quicken the process. Focusing more on tempo than tunes, Japan Airlines worked with composers to produce songs that increase in pace throughout the melody. The goal is to unconsciously hurry passengers to their seats in time with the beat.
Similarly, Dubai-based Emirates found music can shave valuable minutes off boarding when synchronized to seating zones. Working with brands like Boeing, the airline identified ideal boarding times for each section - Economy takes 5 minutes from first call to full, while First Class takes just 90 seconds.
"It is the combination of the right technology...processes like boarding music, and of course our amazing people that allow us to provide our customers with a seamless passenger experience,” noted Emirates' Divisional VP.
Finding the perfect tempo and beat for efficiency gains takes experimentation. JetBlue Airways worked with researchers to test a range of boarding music styles. The team then used data to pinpoint two songs ideal for fast yet calm passenger movement.
Runway Hits: How Airlines are Using Music and Boarding Innovation to Cut Delays - Following the Rhythm - Beats to Reduce Wait Times at Gates
Boarding a flight can be tedious. Between waiting in the jet bridge, filtering through the aisle, and stowing carry-ons, the process seems to drag on endlessly. For airlines, slow boarding burns precious minutes and fuels passenger frustration. Yet many leading carriers are discovering music's metronomic power can actually help beat the boarding blues.
By strategically syncing upbeat songs to the boarding process, airlines can covertly coerce passengers into moving at a brisker, more efficient pace. Rhythm inherently triggers our impulse to walk in time, while a quicker tempo prods us to pick up speed. Airlines like Japan Air and Qantas are already seeing success testing boarding beats designed to silently ‘hurry up’ passengers.
Qantas has taken it a step further by partnering with the University of Sydney's Charles Perkins Centre to identify the ideal boarding beat. Researchers found a song with 135 to 140 beats per minute struck the perfect balance between calm and efficient pace.
Delta Airlines has also tapped into tempo's efficiency powers. Its boarding beats are carefully timed to sync with the flow of passengers into the cabin. Songs start slowly, then increase in pace as travelers stream down the jetway. By the time everyone is seated, the music has pivoted to a slower tempo to signal boarding’s end.
“When the beats subtly prod you to walk a little faster, you may not even realize it,” noted a Delta passenger waiting for a Nashville flight. “But once onboard, I definitely noticed we were settled pretty quickly compared to other airlines.”