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OCR for page 109
Integrated Baggage and Ticketing Strategies 109 tion and are associated with greater amounts of baggage. The issue of dealing with baggage, then, requires the review of a candidate set of strategies to deal with the problem. A Case Study in Baggage Check-in at a Downtown Terminal The downtown check-in terminal at the London Underground's Paddington Station has been chosen for a case study of the impact of having or not having off-site check-in services for airline passengers using rail for access to the airport. Data for other potential case studies, including the London Underground's Victoria Station, will be reviewed for relevance to the Heathrow Paddington case study. The Paddington rail terminal facility had the highest level of check-in amenities of any check-in facility in the Western world. (The Hong Kong check-in terminals at downtown and Kowloon stations boast similar technologies, as they were designed during the same period as the Paddington facility. However, the Hong Kong transit agency, the MTRC, is now con- sidering the phase-out of baggage check-in facilities at these terminals also.) Unlike Victoria Station, Paddington Station offered check-in services from nearly all of the major airlines operating out of its destination airport, Heathrow. Victoria Station's check-in to Gatwick Airport offered services only for British Airways and, for most of its existence, American Airlines. The Paddington Station terminal offered a highly automated conveyor sys- tem for baggage; whereas, at Victoria Station, baggage was put on the train manually. The check- in facility was located quite visibly at the Paddington Main Line station; whereas, the British Airways check-in facility at Victoria Station was located on an upstairs mezzanine level out of view of travelers on the main level. In short, the Paddington check-in service (see Figure 5-1) was designed to represent the state of the art; it represents the ideal model for a case study. The HeathrowPaddington Station Check-in System The Paddington Station check-in service was opened in June 1999. Local managers report that about one airport-bound rail passenger in five (22%) chose to utilize the downtown check-in services. Check-in services for airlines serving the vast majority of Heathrow passengers were PHOTO: M. A. Coogan. Figure 5-1. The check-in terminal at Paddington Station in full operation (2000).

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110 Ground Access to Major Airports by Public Transportation provided, ultimately these airlines grouped as OneWorld, the Star Alliance, and the Swissair- based Qualiflyer Group. (See both TCRP Report 62 and TCRP Report 83 for a complete descrip- tion of the operations of the baggage-handling system.) The Qualiflyer Group was the first to pull out of providing services at Paddington Station, claiming that the airlines it represented thought the operating costs were too high; shortly after, Swissair collapsed, taking the alliance with it. After September 11, 2001, no U.S. carriers were allowed to check bags on flights to the United States from the facility, which affected services from American Airlines and United Airlines. The major event in dismantlement of the system occurred in 2003 when the flagship carrier of London, British Airways, announced it would depart the system it had championed and advo- cated (Figure 5-2). After the collapse of services for the British-based OneWorld alliance, the remaining services of the Star Alliance were withdrawn in 2004. Today, the reconstruction of the terminal is complete, releasing thousands of square feet of prime retail space for resale on the market. The Heathrow Express trains themselves are being rebuilt to utilize the front baggage compartments for passenger use. What Happened at HeathrowPaddington? In cooperation with the Civil Aviation Adminis- tration, BAA (the airport operating company) has an extremely thorough process of monitoring and surveying the airport ground access system and its users. Using the original data obtained from the British organizations, the researchers analyzed the change in rail mode share by the four airport ground access market segments. The data allow the observation of the rail mode share by market group before the discontinuation of check-in service, during the discontinuation, and after the con- clusion of the discontinuation. The case study mimics the characteristics of an experimental design, as the "longitudinal" data tracks the rail mode share before, during, and after a major intervention. The Results: No Decrease in Market Share. Figure 5-3 shows there has been no visible neg- ative impact on rail ridership on the Heathrow Express attributable to the discontinuation of the PHOTO: M. A. Coogan. Figure 5-2. The check-in terminal at Paddington was reduced in area in 2003 and closed in 2004.

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Integrated Baggage and Ticketing Strategies 111 10.0% Mode Share Total 9.0% 8.0% Total Market 7.0% 6.0% 5.0% 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 Year SOURCE: Civil Aviation Authority Surveys, 2000-2004. Figure 5-3. Heathrow Express mode share increases as baggage check-in is abandoned by U.S. airlines in 2001, British Airways in 2003, and Star Alliance in 2004. elaborate check-in services at Paddington. In fact, during the period between 2001, when the first airlines began to discontinue check-in services, and 2004, when the process was over, mode share increased about 10%. This information, examined here for all market shares, is of interest in and of itself. After the traumatic events of September 2001, the airline industry went through major reorganization and major shifts occurred in the nature of travel patterns worldwide. With the change in the composition of the traveling public (more reliance on discount airlines, for exam- ple), ground access patterns might be expected to change in some parallel way. Figure 5-3 shows that, in the case of the high-priced premium Heathrow Express, such a change simply did not happen. Ridership Change by Market Segment. In general, resident business travelers are assumed to be the least likely of the four market segments to release their bags at a downtown location. This group tends to have fewer bags in total and the least proclivity to checking them, even at the airport. Non-business travelers, on the other hand, tend to travel with more paraphernalia and benefit more from a service that would relieve them of the burden of getting the bags to the airport. However, the resident business market segment --the travelers least likely to be impacted by the loss of baggage services--was the only segment not to experience a growth in mode share to Heathrow Express over the 4-year period covered in this analysis. Looking at the trends in mode shares, the UK-resident business segment mode share is about the same at the end of the period as at the beginning. During the year that British Airways discontinued check-in services, it tended to recapture minor losses experienced in the 2 previous years. In short, there is no indication that loss of the major carrier's check-in function had any negative impact on the resident business traveler's propensity to choose the premium rail service. Turning to other market segments, the non-resident business segment experienced a visible increase in rail mode share immediately after the departure of British Airways in 2003, with a sharp overall increase over the 4-year period. Non-business travelers, those with the greatest amount of baggage per party, might be seen as vulnerable to the loss of an amenity such as full baggage check-in. But, the mode share for this segment did not decrease. Rather, over the 4-year period, the non-resident non-business travel- ers had a visible increase in their mode share for the Heathrow Express, including an upturn after the 2003 departure by British Airways. In sum, the disaggregate analysis by market segment does not reveal any strong patterns that would invalidate the data presented in Figure 5-3, which shows that overall mode share for the Heathrow Express did not drop in the period following the beginning of dismantling downtown check-in, but rather grew during a particularly unstable period in the long-distance travel industry.