Flight Plan

You won't miss your flight, thanks to floorwalkers

Ashwini Phadnis | Updated on March 17, 2020

Floorwalkers help round up the missing passengers during boarding

With the number of flights and fliers increasing, large airports in India have become larger, with more shopping and eating areas.

Another important change that has happened is that many of these airports are now silent zones so there are no announcements for flights taking off and the gates they are taking off from, making it difficult for airlines to locate passengers perhaps having another cup of tea or even doing some last-minute shopping.

This is where floorwalkers come in. Floorwalkers help locate passengers, help them in boarding and sometimes also double up as check-in and boarding staff.

Explaining how floorwalkers work, Air India staffers say that basically every airport has three locations — the check-in counter, security and the shopping areas. When a person checks in, an airline’s staff members know that he is at the airport because the person is issued a boarding card and is also registered to board the aircraft in the airline’s system. The next point is the security check where the boarding card is checked and after that are the shopping/eating areas.

“With these three, the approximate location of a flier is known. This is also why we request passengers to give us their mobile numbers at the time of checking in. In case boarding has commenced and some passengers are missing we call them and try and find out where they are,” says an Air India staffer.

When a passenger is found missing once boarding for a flight has started, the floorwalkers start working backwards to trace the missing passenger. Airlines either hire their own floorwalkers or get them from companies like the Bird Group, which provides ground-handling services at airports, including floorwalkers.

“Once it is ascertained that the passenger has left security, then the probable places could be either the toilets, or shopping areas, especially in Mumbai and Delhi airports,” the staffer adds.

The nitty-gritty

Being a floorwalker does not require any special skills. “They should have keen observation skills. If senior citizens are travelling then the chances are that they might require help to get to the gate. If there is a lady travelling alone with children, then she too mightneed a helping hand. Besides, if a passenger is looking a little confused, then he too likely needs to be guided,” the staffer points out.

Things do tend to get a little rushed in the early morning and evening with more flights taking off minutes after each other so airlines press more floorwalkers into service. “There will be at least two to three people post security and a couple of them before security. We make sure they are well spread out. Besides, they communicate using mobiles. The area is not so large that you require too many people. Usually these many are effective,” says an Air India staffer.

A spokesperson of Bird Group, which has floorwalkers at Delhi and Mumbai airports, adds that the number of people required depends on which aircraft is being handled and where the flight is going.

“If it is an Airbus A320 we can manage with two to three people. But if it is an Airbus 380 (the largest commercial jet) five to seven floorwalkers will be required. Similarly, if it is a domestic flight, more floorwalkers may be required as many new first-time travellers are now flying,” he adds.

The floorwalkers are also asked to watch out for flights to West Asia because of the profile of passengers travelling there — a majority are labourers going there to seek employment and are not well-versed with what to do at the airport.

The Bird Group spokesman adds that for flights going towards East Asia, the number of floorwalkers might increase as passengers on these flights are likely to be first-time travellers as compared to a flight going Westwards as normally first-time travellers do not go there. “The good thing is that over a period of time the Indian travel market has matured as travellers have got more used to flying,” the spokesperson adds.

Published on March 17, 2020

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