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A Chatbot to Soothe Passengers Baggage Worries


Johanna Musch

MediaLAB Amsterdam

Year after year, the number of arriving passengers at Schiphol Airport is steadily increasing, challenging its baggage reclaim capacity and comfortability. In order to address this issue, this paper will explore

Amsterdam, The Netherlands Adinda Persoon

how innovative solutions such as a chatbot app can implement physical planning in order to enhance the passengers experience within a confined and crowded area such as the baggage reclaim. The factors

Hogeschool Rotterdam, Multimedia Design & Communication Rotterdam, The Netherlands

emphasising passengers’ baggage worries, such as the feeling of control loss or waiting in a crowd, will be highlighted.

Quinnard Stewart Hogeschool Amsterdam, ICT Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Author Keywords

 Behaviour Change; Crowd Psychology; ChatBot; Baggage Reclaim; Schiphol Airport ; Service Design.

Tomoko Kobayashi Kyushu university Fukuoka, Japan Permission to make digital or hard copies of part or all of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and the full citation on the first page. Copyrights for third-party components of this work must be honored. For all other uses, contact the authors. Copyright is held by the authors.

 In the recent years, Schiphol airport has witnessed a considerable increase in the number of passengers, gradually challenging its infrastructure inflexibility and

comfortability. In order to maintain its status as a leading airport and meet long term demand, the airport has undertaken the construction of new areas. In 2011, a new baggage hall is inaugurated, expanding the overall baggage handling infrastructure (1). Although the processing speeds has been improved, the airport is still confronted with the rise of the traffic volume and has to accommodate with the expected growth of baggage flow for the next years. This issue is even more delicate in confined areas such as the baggage hall notably known as « one of the single largest bottlenecks to a streamlined passenger process and an efficient air transport business model » according to SITA report (2).

 This research paper will find his theoretical framework in the behaviour design field by applying notably the behavioural lenses method and observations of passengers behavioural patterns. Desk researches were led alongside an online survey complemented with qualitative research based on observation and in-depth interviews within the reclaim area of Schiphol Airport. The theoretical research has also been tested with the project Fline. as its main case study with the passengers of Schiphol Airport.

From departure to arrival hall, a gradual feeling of control loss ? 
 Often designated as « the forgotten part » of the journey, the baggage reclaim stands out for its functional aspect ; either perceived by the passengers as a sign of efficiency or as an aseptic environment. In the customer journey, the baggage collection is the step where passengers express the least positive emotions (4). These emotions have many causes such as the uncertainty in the baggage progress. This fear is manifested by the mistrust of the baggage information provided by the handlers. The baggage reclaim represents a disruption in the customer journey. Indeed, since he landed, the passenger has, for the first time, to perform a task to find his way to his baggage belt. Thus seeking for information - requiring information processing and decision making - is perceived as an extra task, disrupting the overall idea of service (3). Furthermore, the passengers are more inclined to trust information provided by an official source such as wall signs or airport staff than the information requiring their interpretation or their own input. As mentioned by Ron Kok, assistant floor manager at Schiphol Airport, only a little number of staff are working in the baggage reclaim and are often not visible, thus not reachable for the passengers inquiries. However, regarding the overall customer journey, it’s interesting to notice that good emotions are expressed when the passenger is in the control of the process, through micro-tasking with his own technology such as the self check-in or the baggage drop off. While bad emotions are expressed in phases where less

technologies and self-services are involved such as the security screening, the passport control or the baggage reclaim area (5). Hence, at the beginning of the journey, the passenger feels more in control notably through micro-tasking performed whether person-to-person or using its own technology ; a feeling of control that drops gradually alongside the use of technologies and self-service.

As Lefebvre underlines in his theory, each body produces a space by itself, also known as « field of comfort » and in a public space, individual will try as much as possible to avoid touching others (7).

Waits in the crowd, a baggage worries catalyst

Alongside, every individual also hold a field of influence acting like a magnetic field attracting others. The field of influence is responsible for the crowding around strong point of interest such as the baggage belt. However when too much passengers field of comfort overlap, the field of influence acts negatively and passengers tends to feel uncomfortable. This feeling of discomfort is strengthening the passengers baggage worries while waiting around the belt.

If the feeling of control loss is one of the main cause of passengers stress and baggage worries, the wait is also a factor.

Hence, while passengers are crowding around the belt, their waiting time in the baggage reclaim is experienced as stressful and uncomfortable.

According to SITA report, the passengers positive emotions at bag collection drop when they have to wait : from 88% for a wait of 10 minutes or less to 54% for waits between 30-60 minutes. However, it is important to distinguish the perceived waiting time than the actual time waited. The perception of waiting time is largely influenced by emotions.

In order to soothe passengers concerns towards baggage, the project Fline. proposes a personalised assistance service that connects passengers with their baggage through real-time notifications delivered by a smart chatbot.

And if the wait in itself don’t bring necessarily negative emotions, the anxiety can make the wait longer. Equally, uncertain waits feels longer than known, finite waits. (6) Moreover, the passengers waiting experience is also influenced by the human density of the area.

Usability testing 
 Previous field researches underlined that passengers showed a strong preference to use their own devices to have access to the service. Thus, the ease of use and access is a key factor for reaching the user acceptance. A great part (63%) of passengers would prefer to connect to the wifi to have access to Fline. than

scanning a QR Code (8%) that ask more effort and manipulation. However, when the passenger reaches the first touchpoint with Fline. he doesn't mind to enter his name and flight information (51%), scan (33%) or upload his plane ticket (16%) if it's in order to get personalized informations. The usefulness and the trustworthiness were also determinant for the sustainability of the chatbot. 96% of the passengers interviewed would rather trust a chatbot to provide them informations about their baggage.

 Facing the rising number of arriving passengers and its infrastructure inflexibility, Schiphol Airport needs to rethink its baggage reclaim experience to grant a smooth travel journey to arriving passengers. To soothe their waiting experience in a crowded area, their baggage worries need to be relieved with a personal and trustworthy assistant. By being updated about their baggage progress the passengers will feel in control and a part the Schiphol baggage reclaim service.

Further discussion
 The user test also confirmed that the service has to be related to the reason why the passengers are waiting, the baggage : 65% would ask the chatbot about their baggage process. However, passengers are also projecting themselves in the next steps as 24% of interviewees were interested in public transport informations. Respondent to the survey also showed a preference to get introduced as early as possible to the service in order to prepare their travel ahead at their own pace. 33% answered in the plane, 27% in the corridor of the baggage reclaim and 22% before departure (only 14% within reclaim). In that sense, Fline. could be extended to every stages of the journey from the booking to the arriving hall, for a smoother travel process.

Whereas the world of airports seems to know a movement towards the development of baggage tracking, the sharing of datas and informations between airports and airlines stay the major issue that slows the development down.

Acknowledgements First, we would like to address a special thanks to Marijn Scholten and Anouk Postma for always providing everything needed and introducing us to the work universe of Schiphol group. Our grateful thanks go also to Maureen Gribnau and Katinka Bergema for their rich and valuable feedbacks during the meeting always pushing us further in this project.

Special thanks to Rick Boellaard who never hesitated to take part of our field researches and to share gracefully his insights and feedbacks. Last but not least, thanks to our coach Marco Van Hout and all the MediaLAB Amsterdam team for advising and supporting our project.



Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. 2011. Schiphol opens modern new baggage hall [online] Available at : %20baggage%20hall.pdf


Nick Gates. 2016. SITA 2016 Baggage Report [online] Available at :


Fei, Tianlun, et al. 2016. ÂŤ Towards Understanding Information Needs and User Acceptance of Mobile Technologies to Improve Passenger Experience in Airports." Proceedings of the European Conference on Cognitive Ergonomics. ACM.


Nick Gates. 2015. The Passenger IT Trends Survey. Air Transport Industry Insights 2015 [online] Available at :


Nick Gates. 2016. The Passenger IT Trends Survey. Air Transport Industry Insights 2016 [online] Available at :


David H. Maister. The psychology of waiting lines. Harvard Business School, 1984


H e n r i L e f e b v r e . T h e p r o d u c t i o n o f s p a c e. Blackwell : Oxford, 1991

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