How do you continue to be the best-valued airport of Europe?

Schiphol is highly valued by its visitors and, of course, that’s how they want to keep it. On a daily basis more than 200,000 people travel via Schiphol Airport and they all deserve the best possible service. Physical growth of the airport is difficult to accomplish but there is always room for improvement in the area of customer experience. Every effort is made so that travellers can move quickly, efficiently and above all safely around the airport to reach their destination. There are self-service baggage drop-off points where passengers can check-in their suitcases, so staffed service desks are no longer needed. To keep the level of service as high as possible, every detail matters.


All around the airport, there are screens with information about arriving and departing flights. This way travelers know where to check-in and from which gate their flight will depart. A flight that does not appear on these screens can cause confusion for the traveler. Actually, there were some complaints about flights not appearing on the screens at all. Even though the complaint rate was below 0,05%, it was still an issue Schiphol wanted to investigate and solve.


The solution

SMT’s Splunk team was asked to investigate the issue and come up with a solution. All components of Schiphol are connected to the Airport Service Bus, which in turn forwards all data to the Splunk platform. From Splunk one can analyze the ASB without having any impact on the performance of the ASB itself. Based on the ASB data, they managed to map out the process of an incoming flight; registering it at the airport and the gate, the passengers getting off and on board and the departure of the aircraft. Research showed that the so-called “gate phone” played a critical role in this process. The gate phone is used by the airline’s ground staff at the gate for logging the boarding status of departing flights. The most important status alerts are the status “Gate open”, “Boarding” and “Gate closed”. If the staff at the gate forgets to pass on these changes via the gate phone, the concerning flight does not appear on the screens at the airport. And therefore, not on the website and in the mobile app of the airport where this information is normally shown.


By linking all these events in Splunk, a report was issued with insights about which airline did not register a flight correctly via the gate phone and when that had happened. Supported by this report, Schiphol was able to find a solution together with the involved airlines. They started with additional training of ground staff for the correct registration of flights, to make sure all passengers can find their flight status on the screens, website and in the app. An additional benefit of this report is that insight was gained into the decreasing number of wrongly or non-registered boarding status.


The result

Due to the availability of data from the ASB and surrounding systems in Splunk it was possible to deliver the report that same day and provide insight immediately. In the course of the following days, the report was further adapted and updated to answer additional questions. They now have insight into the performance of the various airlines and which flights it concerned.

At the same time, a new project was started to phase out the gate phones and replace them with a pc-application where the boarding status can be selected, which partially automates this process. Reports about the implementation of the next generation gate phone are extracted from Splunk as well. This shows that Splunk’s scheme-on-the-fly is perfectly capable of answering questions that were not in scope when extracting the data from the system.

Schiphol once again shows that they are rightly among the select group of airports where travellers love to come. With an eye for detail and all attention for their passengers, that is what it takes to remain a leading airport in the world.


January 2019