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Published on : Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Have you ever wondered how an airport’s passenger logistics is managed? How do the thousands of transfer, arrival and departure travelers go through security and passport control in time? How do all the newbie tourists find what they need at foreign airports?
To make the flow of passengers run smoothly, you need not only a high-functioning terminal but also a skilled and efficient staff. At Helsinki Airport, the dozens of service advisors have a key role in helping passengers find their way. Here are a few facts about their job:
You can spot the service advisors from their blue uniforms. In fact, when you’re in a jam, one will probably be nearby, as guides are always sent to spots where passengers need the most help. They help at check-in points in the departure lobby, answer questions at the information point, assist with parking-related issues and take visitors for tours around the terminal. They also guide transfer passengers to their next flight.
“Many passengers are unsure of where exactly they need to go, so we act as traffic guides,” says one Finavia service advisor.
All service advisors undergo an intensive training course, during which they learn about how the airport functions and what they need to do to guide passengers.
One of the most important tasks for advisors at Helsinki Airport is to ensure that the daily influx of transfer passengers from Asia make it through the passport and security checks and onto their next flights. Every afternoon advisors go meet the incoming flights from Asia, and instruct the passengers toward the right check points.
Sometimes passengers with a tight schedule can be taken through a quick lane to their next flight.
“Usually the scheduling of the flights works well, but there are times when our job is quite busy, as there are big groups of passengers arriving at once. We try to ensure that everyone gets through the check points smoothly, and we also answer questions about departure gates and times,” explains service advisor Meggy Vanhamäki.
So how do service advisors know where to go and how to direct passenger flows? Their work is guided by the Terminal Control unit, which plans passengers’ routes in the terminal and instructs the service advisors on how to advise incoming travelers.
The advisors and Terminal Control are also in constant contact via walkie-talkies, so they can react to changing situations quickly.
Helsinki Airport has put special effort into having a multilingual and culturally fluent staff working as advisors. All service staff knows at least English and Finnish, but many of them have mastered several languages, like Chinese and Japanese, which are important in advising Asian passengers.
“The best part of my work is the feeling of being useful, when I can really help solve passengers’ problems,” says the Chinese-born Yi Wang, who also speaks fluent Finnish. “For instance, elder Chinese tourists are often grateful to receive help in their own language.”