AIRPORTNEWSPASSENGER EXPERIENCE

San Francisco International Airport Introduces Concierge Program

San Francisco International Airport

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) introduces a new concierge program for passengers looking for a premium experience at the airport.

San Francisco International Airport

This airport is one of the first in the US to offer the comprehensive set of services for passengers.

The Airport Butler services are managed by a third party company of the same name and are available in multiple language, and include:

  • Direct assistance from gate to curb (arrivals) or curb to gate (departures)
  • Assistance with baggage and check-in process
  • Connecting flight support
  • Assistance during a flight delay or cancellation
  • Lounge reservations prior to flight
  • Ground transportation arrangements
  • Personal shopping at the airport
  • Meeting guests with flowers or customized gifts
  • Private meeting room arrangements
  • Business services including printing, copying and document translation

Airport Director John L Martin commented: “We continue to elevate the airport guest experience at SFO, with amenities that allow passengers to customise their journey. “The Airport Butler service provides an exciting new option for travellers, offering a unique VIP experience that anyone can enjoy.”

As Airport Butler sought to expand its unique service offering in the US specifically, San Francisco was a key Airport for our future network as it is very innovative in terms of airport service offerings, a primary gateway for Asia Pacific travelers and city full of people seeking new experiences in travelling,” said Airport Butler/ATS Inc. President and CEO Sally Leible. “Airport Butler is so excited to be a part of the vibrant environment that San Francisco International Airport is creating for each of its customers.”

 

Airport Butler Overview

Airport Butler Logo
Logo
Source: Airport Butler

The company was launched in August 1, 2012 at Vancouver International Airport (YVR). It is owned and operated by Airport Terminal Services Canadian Company (ATS-CC) which was established in 2000 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Airport Terminal Services, Inc (ATS) (which once was part of TWA). Its airport concierge services are available at three North American airports. Besides YVR and SFO, the service is being offered at New York JFK International Airport (JFK) Terminal 4.

The company established relationships with the airport authorities to provide services airside (after security). Passenger can go online to book services directly. Pricing is a la carte to enhance flexibility and value. Lounge access is provided through a partnership with Plaza Premium Lounge at YVR and Wingtips Lounge at JFK.

 

Analysis

This type of product offering is very popular in Asia, Europe and the Middle East but is relatively new to the North American market through the airport. It is aimed mostly at passengers who may not already receive a partial list of services from airlines through their premium class itinerary.

Lufthansa (LH) and American Airlines (AA) are two airlines that offer similar services through their Guide Service® and Five Star Service® programs.

Guide Service

Lufthansa Guide Service
Guide Service Source: Lufthansa

The Guide Service program is available at LH’s hubs in Frankfurt Airport (FRA) and Munich Airport (MUC) starting at 75 € (~US$82).

The guides can speak one of 14 languages and is available to take passengers to check-in, where they explain the security regulations, accompany them to their gate and, on landing, to baggage reclaim, but also to restaurants, hotels or car rental companies.

Five Star Service

American Airlines Five Star Service
Five Star Service Source: American Airlines

The Five Star Service program is available in the following airports:

Within the United States starting at US$250 (~225 €) – Boston (BOS) – Charlotte (CLT) – Chicago O’Hare (ORD) – Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) – Los Angeles (LAX) – Miami (MIA) – New York Kennedy (JFK) – New York LaGuardia (LGA) – Philadelphia (PHL) – Phoenix (PHX) – San Francisco (SFO) – Washington, D.C. Reagan (DCA)

Outside the United States US$300 (~270 €) – Buenos Aires, Argentina (EZE) – London Heathrow, England (LHR) – Milan, Italy (MXP) – Tokyo-Narita, Japan (NRT) – Sao Paulo, Brazil (GRU)

AA’s service are more comprehensive and may include based on the destination:

Departure

  • Coordinate with Car Service
  • Curbside Meet & Greet
  • Assist with Check-in
  • Expedite through Security Queue*
  • Admirals Club Lounge Access
  • Pro-active Flight Monitoring and Priority Re-Accommodation during Delays
  • Escort to Gate
  • Coordinate Special Requests with In-Flight Crew
  • Pre-Boarding Assistance

Connection

  • Arrival Gate Meet & Greet
  • Admirals Club Lounge Access
  • Pro-active Flight Monitoring & Priority Re-accommodation during Delays
  • Escort to Gate
  • Pre-Boarding Assistance
  • Assistance Available for Interline Connection

Arrival

  • Coordinate with Car Service
  • Arrival Gate Meet & Greet
  • Escort through Immigration and Customs for International Arrival
  • Admirals Club Lounge Access
  • Escort to Baggage Claim
  • Assist with Luggage Retrieval
  • Escort & Assist to Car Service

Airports are increasingly looking at ways to enhance its service offering to improve the passenger experience. There is a good mix of international passengers that could use this service at San Francisco international Airport. From a technology standpoint, it might be a good idea for the airport to integrate the Airport Butler booking engine directly inside its website so that potential users would not be confused.  Additionally, the airport does not  have a third party lounge located at its international terminal. This new initiative may help build opportunities to work with The Club or Plaza Premium to open something there.

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