The Hold Room

Join us in The Hold Room, a bi-monthly podcast brought to you by the Airport Consultants Council! The Hold Room will explore the latest trends in airport development and passenger facilitation both here in the U.S. and around the world. Conversational, informative, and sometimes irreverent, expect unique insights from ACC leaders, members, airports, and industry experts as we breakdown trends directly affecting airport development, including: the future of passenger facilitation; airline industry prognosis; airport construction practices; and legislative and regulatory updates. We will also explore the issues affecting your company, including increasing diversity in the industry, financial trends and challenges, and recruiting, developing and retaining employees, just to name a few. Don’t miss this new opportunity to engage with ACC - you never know who you might run into while hanging out in The Hold Room!
  • Season 2 Episode 8: Dan Barton
    Joining Anita and Carrie in the Hold Room, Dan Barton with InterVISTAS gives an overview of the airport rental car industry. He talks about recent airport rental car market trends, recent and emerging technologies, rental car fleet electrification and its impact on the power grid, and how electrification factors into the passenger experience. Episode Transcription:
  • Season 2, Episode 7 - Flight Club 502
    Today Carrie and Max from ACC are joined by Laura Benson Jones and Annabelle Klein from the Executive Board at Flight Club 502. In this episode Laura and Annabelle will discuss strategies for engaging young individuals on topics related to aviation from engineering to becoming a pilot. They are helping develop future leaders, while promoting engagement in the industry. The Hold Room, Season 2 Episode 7 – Flight Club 502 Laura Benson Jones and Annabelle Klein Transcript [Introduction] TJ: Welcome to The Hold Room with ACC: a quick update on all things relating to airport development as well as the Airport Consultants Council. Laura Canham: This episode is part of the passenger experience headers hosted by ACC's Terminal and Facilities Committee in this series. We are collecting the experiences and perspectives about the future of passenger travel, including changing demographics such as the US population, aging and becoming more multicultural, new technologies, labor and supply chain. Shortages and what the future may have in store. Thank you for joining us. Paula Nguyen: Today, Carrie and Max from ACC are joined by Laura Benson Jones and Annabelle Klein from the Executive Board at Flight Club 502. In this episode, Laura and Annabelle will discuss strategies for engaging young individuals on topics related to aviation from engineering to becoming a pilot. They are helping develop future leaders while promoting engagement in the industry. [Interview] Max Vale: Welcome back to The Hold Room, everyone. Today, we're very excited to have Laura Jones and Annabelle Klein with us from Flight Club 502 based out of Louisville, KY. Laura Jones: Hi, I'm Laura Benson Jones and I'm an airline transport pilot. I've been flying airplanes since 1985. I sort of retired about seven years ago. I work part-time is more of a consultant for aviation, aerospace education and for corporate air travel, and we started a nonprofit here in Louisville, KY, called Flight Club 502, and it's been an amazing volunteer opportunity. We started Flight Club 502 in 2015 because those of us who were rehired from the aerospace industry wanted to make available lessons in aviation to inspire teenagers to really excel at science, technology, engineering, and math. And we really wanted to inspire the teenagers to be leaders for America tomorrow. And for us, that meant reaching down and lifting up those 8- to 12-year-olds because they're watching the older kids and we think it's important for our teenagers to take on the responsibilities of being a leader and the last piece we built into flight club, there's four fundamentals of flight club. The fourth piece is patriotism. It's been an amazing journey. We started with eight girls in October of 2015 and my son said that why is it that only girls can fly? And why is aviation so gender bias? They didn't understand that really most of the commercial aviators are male, but nevertheless we decided not to be a gender biased organization and we brought boys on. Today our organization has 400 members ages 13 to 21 and those kids served an additional 1,200 kids outside of our organization through outreach programming last year. Annabelle Klein: And I'm Annabelle Klein. I was the 1st President at Flight Club 502 when I was a junior in high school. And it's just insane how much it's grown. It's really become full circle. I got my private pilot's license in 2017 and then I went off to college, did my thing in Nashville. And when I got married last year and we moved back to Louisville. And just fell back in love with this organization. And it's a full circle because now I work here full time, which is a dream come true. It's the most fun job in the entire world. I get to hang out with all these people that love aviation, inspire these teenagers, and be a mentor towards them. They get to see airplanes every day and get to talk to really cool people that know a lot about the aviation industry. Max Vale: I'm curious about Flight Club 502's mission and what exactly its purpose is. Could you talk a little bit about that? Laura Jones: You know, we developed Flight Club 502 to build leaders for America tomorrow. We weren't really thinking about building an aerospace workforce. However, what we've found is that by introducing aviation to these children as young as eight years old. That I think currently we have 42 of our members and engineering programs across the country. We have, I think it was like 37 who are in commercial flight training programs and it’s amazing to me. But I'm just giving you a rough idea that we have young people who are pursuing aviation as a career, even one of our young people had an internship with Textron and she's a marketer, but she wanted to stay in the aerospace industry and she was actually one of our founding members. We started our nonprofit we wanted to build, build people, and we want to give these young people a safe place to come. And we want to give them a community that not only offers them mentors, engineers, mechanics, pilots, retired military pilots and personnel. We're connecting teenagers with mentors and what we've seen is that with the mentorship, the kids are excelling. We're seeing them actually have direction at an early age and they seem to really care about the younger gen. and that peer-to-peer mentorship that the teenagers do for their younger generation, the 8- to 12-year-olds Junior Flight Club, has been really amazing piece to. Currently we have 6 airplanes and 70 adult volunteers, and I think we've had something like around 92 that have obtained their pilots license. That's pretty impressive. Carrie Wojcik: That's very impressive. What do you think are some of the challenges for young people to get involved? In aviation, whether it's being a pilot or other aspects of the market, but just from your experience interacting with children who are interested in this line of work, what are some of the challenges you think they're facing? Annabelle Klein: That's part of the reason we started Flight Club 502 is because this original group of eight girls: We wanted to fly. And luckily, I knew who Laura and we all had a connection to her. And she's like, OK, round you all up after school and we'll start a little club just talking about ground school stuff. It's really hard for people who have no connection to aviation to get involved and that's part of what Flight Club 502 does with all these outreach programs we do. We tell them it's an available resource and we are here to help you find your path. Laura Jones: I agree with Annabelle. I think it's just about exposure. We're open to all kids and this program offer outreach to elementary, middle school and high schools. And as a result, we have kids from every economic background. We have girls and boys. We might have more girls than boys here. Annabelle Klein: At least 50/50 girls and boys, which is incredible. Laura Jones: The biggest, the most important piece to our organization are our volunteers, because volunteers make this opportunity available for the kids in our community. Annabelle Klein: And a lot of the kids are first generation pilot. I come from a family of pilots, but most of our kids, their parents have never touched an airplane other than a big commercial jet that they go to Florida for vacation in. I think that's also really important is to bring in new pilots and expose as many kids and teenagers to this industry as possible. Laura Jones: We don't care if these kids become pilots. We just want the kids to do well in school because if they do well in school, they might be able to be an engineer and build airports. Max Vale: Yeah, we're always looking to add to the aviation workforce. You both started talking about this gender equity with respect to the aviation industry. You know, Flight Club 502, it's about 50/50 and that's quite impressive. What kind of structural barriers do you feel like are in the way for people who are not men to get involved in this industry? Why does that happen? Laura Jones: I'm flying since 1985 and I do sit on the women in Aviation Advisory Board and they've been examining these issues. For me, I didn't have a barrier to entry. I've never had a problem having a seat at the table. I feel like many of my friends who didn't want to get involved in aviation, perhaps it was just the exposure piece that Annabelle mentioned. Some women that I knew when I was growing up, might have just wanted to stay at home with their family and not on the road. Tor us here, we just really haven't seen a barrier to entry. We haven't seen a lot of obstacles. We think the main thing to get girls interested or minorities interested in aviation is just the exposure piece. Annabelle Klein: And my mentor, like I saw Laura and I was like oh my gosh. She's awesome! And she's a pilot. I grew up with a woman pilot and her sons were thinking, oh, all pilots are female. Like it's just. Laura Jones: Isn't your POV? Everyone's point of view is different based on where they are. So that's why I hate to weigh in very strongly because I definitely think that there are people who've had different experiences than we've had here in Kentucky. But here in Kentucky, the kids literally think it's normal, they think all kids fly. Max Vale: That's awesome. Normalization of it doesn't matter where you come from or what your background is. If you're interested in aviation, then you're interested in aviation. Laura Jones: We're hoping that our one touch of picking kids up in an airplane or showing them that they can build a plane will positively impact them because we know that those touches they get from their peers in school could be negative. And we know that teenagers, they're #1 influencer it's not their mom and dad, it's their peers. And we have to understand that if we want to see a better workforce, then it's going to require that all of us step up to the plate and find a place to get involved, where we help build our teenagers and we give them the mentorship. We're reaping the benefits of the kids in our community because it's a ripple effect. These kids are going out, they are positively influencing the kids in their sphere and the younger kids and that ripple effect goes out over our entire community. Max Vale: Are there any other models that you guys have based this organization off of like other examples of types of nonprofits are doing these similar types of work? Laura Jones: No, we started this nonprofit, we were thinking more of a Junior Achievement model. The young people actually run this nonprofit. When we first started, and still to this day, we had the Finance Committee and those are teenagers. The teenagers are the ones that created the budget for 2022. Now they didn't do it alone. They did it with adults who sat with them and taught them how to create a budget. It's a little bit like if you come to Flight Club 502, I don't know if you ever watched any Star Trek? There were the where the women were running the planet these kind of shows. Well, this planet is run by teenagers. So if you arrive, it'll be a teenager that will greet you. And if a teenager that's running the facilities managing our front desk. It will be a young person that will give the presentation on the 2023 budget. The teenagers are running fundraising and I think the young person that's running our fundraising program right now, she's a junior. She's running our fundraising effort right now, which we're raising money to buy new equipment, new Diamond 20 aircraft, which is what the Air Force Academy uses to train their cadets, and she's hoping to clear 250,000 from the raffle. Teenagers can accomplish great things, but they just need the mentorship. They need for us to trust them and kind of double check after them, but us handing them that responsibility makes them grow into that position because a lot of times these kids have never been asked to be a leader of something. Carrie Wojcik: Definitely. With that thinking of like the future leaders with these kids that you work with. In your program. Once they are done with the program, how many get involved with aviation and do you believe that they're impacting some of those labor shortages are influencing the market? Laura Jones: It was not our plan. I mean, our plan was to use the airplanes to get people here to build leaders. But what we're seeing is that what we're doing is workforce development and our state has actually recognized our program as a workforce development asset. We're recognizing it through the numbers of our members who are going into aerospace industry. I think we're seeing close to 60% of our members are sort of tracking that line in one way or another. Annabelle Klein: So, it's really cool. I mean, we've started in 2015 and after the seven. Period to see the kids that were 13 years old then and now becoming young adults and going out into the aviation industry just warms everybody's heart. It's incredible what they're doing now because of the experience they had at Flight Club. Carrie Wojcik: So, it sounds like the state has really acknowledged your program. They're really excited about it. What is the response from airports, or maybe some of the universities that are critical for this market, are you seeing a response or interest in your organization from those entities as well? Annabelle Klein: I think that's for the universities. That's next step because we would like to eventually offer some opportunities for an associate degree in aerospace before they graduate. We'd like more of an academic opportunity for our kids, yeah. That's the next step. Laura Jones: That’s where we are right now. And we're also working, Annabelle and several other board members, created a program called Flight Club and Alpha and that's where we can take our program and help other cities start programs like ours. So, we launched Lexington, KY in 2020. Knoxville is coming to visit with us. They want night Flight Club in Knoxville. So, we'll be able to sort of share our best practices and help others launch youth development programs in their towns. Max Vale: I was actually gonna ask about that. Where are you inspiring elsewhere and that's great to hear that this program is expanding to other places across the Southeast Carrie Wojcik: What are ways that people can get involved in their communities? What are some of the organizations that we should be looking to to support, to help train future pilots, get individuals involved in the industry? Annabelle Klein: I think it's important, that each and every one of us look inside ourselves and finds a way to get involved to help teenagers. Laura Jones: Our kids need us. Number 2, for these small airports across the country, many of them, they're, I don't want to say abandoned, but they look like nobody cares. And I think with the aging pilot population and the aging fleet, we need to really think about our infrastructure and how important it is to us. Is it important for us to keep these small airports healthy and vibrant? I think so. And if you want the airports to be healthy and vibrant and you want to be able to continue your good work of developing airports and developing airport properties, then we need people to use the airport. I think you should, or we should, support programs like the experimental aircraft associations, Young Eagle programs, and support programming like Fight Club 502. Annabelle Klein: I mean, that's a great answer to how you can help get involved. Just getting the younger generation involved and having that connection with the older pilots to the younger kids and teenagers and inspiring them. Carrie Wojcik: Great answer, I think I really liked Laura's point too about how you know the facilities that you're operating and do matter. Thank you so much, Laura and Annabelle, for joining us in the whole room today and being a part of the conversation. Annabelle Klein: It was. Great meeting and thank you for the great work you're doing with airport. [Outro] Wendy: Thanks for joining us in The Hold Room for this special podcast series exploring the new passenger experience. You can find more from this series on the ACC Training Hub—that’s—or wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, etc. Follow us for more content from the Airport Consultants Council. You can support this podcast by leaving a rating or review and by telling your friends and colleagues about the podcast. Thanks again.
  • Season 2 Episode 6: Live at Symposium
    Today’s episode comes from the 2023 ACC/AAAE Planning, Design, and Construction Symposium in Anaheim, California. Laura Canham and Carrie Wojcik asked people about diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility and they delivered! Here’s what we learned from Cole Hartfiel, Senior Airport Planner at Sacramento County Department of Airports; Tambre Moten, Airport Accessibility Manager at Houston Airport Systems; Sri Kumar, CEO/President at Connico; and Eric Lipp, Executive Director at Open Doors Organization. The Hold Room, Season 2 Episode 6 – Live at Symposium 2023 Transcript [Introduction] TJ: Welcome to The Hold Room with ACC: a quick update on all things relating to airport development as well as the Airport Consultants Council. Laura Canham: Hello and thank you for joining us. We are here today at the 2023 ACC and AAAE Symposium in Anaheim, CA and interviewing people throughout the day to see what kind of changes they're making to the airports for diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility and the changing demographic. Or other ideas that they've seen throughout the day. So, thank you very much for joining us today. Cole Hartfiel: Hi, my name is Cole Hartfiel. I work for the Sacramento County Department of Airports. I'm a senior airport planner there and excited to tell you about the customer experience at Sacramento that we're trying to improve for those with low visibility or no visibility at all. So, there's a program that we just recently subscribed to us called AIRA, A-I-R-A, and we're really excited about we brought the community in to test, drive it, to roll through. One of the things we had heard was getting to different areas that have ADA compliance may be difficult for those with low vision, mostly because: how do they know where the placards on the wall are in the first place? So, one of the things that we use AIRA for. It's a program where the airport pays for it and then allows the users to be able to access it by connecting with someone who is their live. So they have a live representative through AIRA that we pay for through the system. It's an annual subscription. And they can hold their phone up wherever this is low-vis, no-vis, or even someone with difficulty hearing. They can still take their phone and hold it out, and it uses their camera to show the operator where they are. So then the operator can give them directions as to how to get to the airport from the moment they arrive within our sphere of, I think, it's our wireless network. Once they hit that, they can subscribe. They don't have to even subscribe, they can just call in. Get it. And then go all the way from curb to gate. And it's really exciting because that's something we needed to bring to our customers for a long time and it's just showing some way that Sacramento is trying to build and grow with our community moving forward, especially with any of our expansions coming up. Laura: So how are you implementing this? For example, how are you if somebody comes to your airport, how are they? Going to know that this service even. Cole: Right. So, on our website, we do have our accessibility options available. And on there they should be able to find the knowledge behind that. It'll let them know, hey, this is where you can find it. And so definitely check that out., there's a plug. That's for our International Airport. We don't quite have it at our other three airports at the moment, but at least for the customers experience, SMF Sacramento International Airport, they'll be able to utilize that. Laura: Thank you. Tambre Moten: Hi, my name is Tambre Moten. I'm the Houston Airports Accessibility Manager. Glad to be here. Laura: We're so happy to have you. So tell us a little. Bit about what you're seeing at airports. That's really cool for DEIA. If you're seeing any changes or have anything upcoming that you're thinking of for addressing change in demographics. Anything along those lines this that would be great. Tambre: Well, I really feel like the role that I do at the Airport as an accessibility manager is expanding our reach when it comes to our customers. I'm seeing a lot more travelers with disabilities through our terminals and being able to provide better amenities to them, it means that there's going to be a lot more coming. Some of the things that we plan to create more sensory rooms. I know that we just did all of our service animal relief areas, so customers that are traveling with their service animals, they don't have to go out of the security area. They can stay inside the terminals and make sure that their service animal is good to go. For those with intellectual and developmental disabilities or low vision, they can use AIRA service. And then for mothers, lactating mothers, we have nursing facilities that are very, very comfortable. I'm also a nursing mother, so I remember when I was traveling to go see my dad, I also used our nursing rooms and they're super comfortable. So, I just feel like the different steps and amenities that we're adding to our airport, they make it to where we can welcome anyone to our airport. So mothers that are nursing, aging populations by making sure that the ramps and things like that are accessible, so that wheelchair service providers can do their jobs. Service animals can come through. I'm super excited for us to create those sensory rooms because I feel like those that are neurodivergent and have autism they'll be also welcomed into the airports and find that comfortable space and being able to access travel. One other one is a companion care facility for those that need to use a universal design changing table throughout their flight. We have that at Hobby airport, and then we're also planning in our new terminal to incorporate a companion care room and it'll have a universal design table. So those that have larger children that no longer fit on the baby changing table, they don't have to put them on the floor, they can put them on the universal design table and it just makes it to where they can travel with dignity. And I feel like that's also an important part of DEI is just making sure that you're including everybody and their experience is dignified. Laura: Yeah, absolutely. And especially for things like actually getting people out to travel, who may not because of exactly that, those restrictions that are in place that would otherwise make it either impossible or extremely uncomfortable to travel. So that's really cool. And I think at the session this morning, you had mentioned a couple of resources that people can use. I don't know if you wanted to mention a couple of the ACRP manuals or some of the other resources that you had included. Tambre: Yea, so, when I stepped into this role, I think probably about three years ago. I think one of the first places that I was looking was of course, like the FAA, there's advisory circulars that are available that talk about wayfinding and signage, how to properly design restrooms, service animal relief areas, and also the lactation rooms. And I feel like those are very helpful to design firms and professionals in construction. And then another resource that I looked at was the Transportation Research Board. So they have the airport cooperative research program where there's a lot of different studies that are done. I think the one that I was on, I think it was 210, and we talked about just increasing accessibility in the airport, but there are many others. I think the best way is to look at the different functions of the airport and in some of those manuals or reports they do incorporate accessibility and have some lessons that can be learned and some examples. And the examples they start from even like rental car facility all the way to the gate. So, I know that I looked at resources in regards to our curbside and how to properly do the loading and unloading for travelers. That's a revision that I know that we're going to need to do coming up. And then just making even the ticket counter is accessible, making them an accessible height at a universal design height is something that I know was also covered, and you can see what other airports have done. One of the points that I brought about in my presentation is that when it comes to accessibility, it's about community and collaboration, and there's no shame in reaching out to other. Airports and finding out you know what type of amenities that they're providing to customers with disabilities and seeing if you can emulate those things because it just makes our airports more accessible. It makes travel more accessible for everyone. If we just, you know, work together and create those options. Laura: That's awesome. Thank you so much. Tambre: No problem. Sri Kumar: Hello world this is Sri. I'm the CEO over at Connico. I've been asked to talk a little bit today about changing future of airports and how we're doing more to be accommodating, be inclusive, make sure that the facilities are accessible for everybody. You know, one cool thing that I do see changing is that it's in the conversation. Before, you know, the spotlight wasn't really on this stuff, but people were still needing to get around. People were still wanting to be included, so especially with, you know, Conoco being an MBE and my background coming up in the industry. Sometimes I didn't see people like me in leadership positions and things like that. So, it's really cool that they're focused on panels here at the symposium. Or we're seeing them more, you know, on posts in LinkedIn or they're being elevated to leadership positions at airports. I think that's really cool. You know, I really like the partnerships that are going on more and more. Even just like we heard in the opening session today, people are saying: “Where can I get the right knowledge for this?” They're not saying: “OK, cool. I won this contract at this airport. You know, we're gonna modernize the terminal. We're gonna pull a set of plans off the shelf for terminal modernization.” They're saying: “Let's include some other voices in the conversation and see are we designing this for the target audience. Is this going right?” All that kind of stuff. So I think there are some cool changes there. There are a lot more things happening, too, in terms of looking at the future. We're talking sure about maybe the population demographics are changing and stuff like that, and I'm hearing people look beyond that. Not just one particular age group, right or one particular mobility group. How do we just make the facility Usable for everybody? Totally everbody. So I think that's really cool. Laura: That is cool. And one of the cool things about the panel this morning was just even talking about outlets, right? Why are outlets on the floor when they should be somewhere when you're sitting chest height somewhere that people can walk up, that children, and nobody has to crawl on the floor? This is for everybody, right? It doesn't exclude anyone. This applies to everyone. Sri: Well, and generally too, you know, I hope some of these things move beyond airports. There's nothing worse than being at a conference like this and you go into a meeting room and there are four outlets, but they're all like under the carpet and somehow you're expected to get down there and put the... So I do hope that some of these changes move beyond airports. We do have the ability because airports see such a diverse demographic of people. The airport industry has the chance to lead some of the change on this stuff. How is it that we integrate all these kinds of things? There is some work to be done still, as I think everyone's aware. But especially when it comes to acknowledging, recognizing our own limitations, we don't ever want to say, hey, we've got all the answers. Hey, we started this conversation. We're the experts on this now, right? So it's very important for us to keep an open mind, I guess. We want to make sure that we're never making an assumption even after we've collected some of the information. We don't want to think we have all of it. And they touched on this a little bit in the panel, but. Thinking of, or at least talking about, and trying to think of everything you know for me personally, I'm very seriously introverted. I don't like talking to people. Being around people is very draining for me and when I say that to people, they don't guess that right. But that's something about me that I change a little bit when I'm out in public. And so there might be people who they're affected by something, but it's not as visible. And so we want to make sure that we accommodate those people too, because not everyone talks about stuff. Not everything is evident and we want to make sure that inclusivity doesn't just mean what we can see, what we can point out, right? Laura: Yes, absolutely. And that brought about another good point of the invisible disabilities and people who you wouldn't necessarily guess from looking at them, that there was something that, that is challenging to them. And so yeah, I know those are all really awesome points. Thank you very much Sri. Sri: Thank you. This was a lot of fun. Carrie Wojcik: Hey there, this is Carrie with the Passenger Experience Subcommittee. I am here with Eric Lipp, who is part of an organization called Open Doors that's based out in Illinois. Eric Lipp: Alright, wow thanks. What I see right now is I see airports all across the country stepping in and saying, you know, the airport reflects our community. So, for instance, wheelchair service. A lot of times wheelchair service is now required from entry door of the airport to the gate, but there's rental car facilities; there's other places to go and I see airports are now saying: hey, we don't want to leave people stranded and make them walk. We're going to contract the rest of the way where the airports don't have it. So, there's transportation like in Minnesota and in Washington, Seattle, WA. Where you can get to your car, even to the parking lot in Phoenix, you can request wheelchair service from the parking lot. So, if you park your car, you hit a button, you make a call and somebody brings the wheelchair to you. And I think what happens is a lot of times airports have always gotten a lot of complaints about wheelchair service and because of that they started to say: hey, that's reflecting on our community and we don't want that anymore. Milwaukee is another really good airport and the new design and construction long distances for a small airport is being taken into consideration because you have older population travelling, you don't want to walk as long and if you make a long distance, you don't have a people mover. It's harder on the wheelchair pushers. You might have to have cart service, which means you have to have wider aisles and things like that are all being considered. So, I do, I see airports getting involved because they want to be part of the experience. You know what I mean? Like the experience of of the whole travel, welcome to our town. This is the first thing you see. And then what have I seen? Or am I doing in the DEIA? Well, I'll tell you one of the cool things we're doing is one of the carriers is actually building their headquarters and new headquarters, and they're considering DEIA into it. Meaning, like from the very beginning, they're considering all diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility. Everything's there from the beginning down to the colors on the walls and the artwork that's going to be in there. And the physical location of the building. So that's some of the things we're working on also in DEI, a lot of airports right now are starting to have DEI components. It's kind of new, right, all of a sudden you gotta, you know, somebody who's job is DEI and they're not necessarily sure what to do. You kind of help out because it's a new thing we're helping out bringing, you know, diversity, equity, inclusion into aviation. Because it's not really been there for a long time. Carrie: Yeah, it's almost a cultural shift. We have to acknowledge this and can’t ignore it. Eric: It is a cultural shift, right? I mean, we can't ignore it. And again that reflects the community as well, right? Hiring people who live close by. Who work in your community, who look like people who live in your communities. Let's you know, talk like they're, you know, they have the same accent as everybody from New York or Wisconsin might be right. It brings that kind of welcoming experience. And you know the people that look like that. The more diversity we see at the airport the more people will feel comfortable being there. Carrie: What airport do you think has really led the way on DEI? Eric: So internationally, I think right now Istanbul is leading the way. But here in the United States, I've got to be honest with you. I see so much good stuff going on. I hate to give anybody too much accolades because I'm missing somebody. Like I just learned yesterday that Fort Wayne, IN has so much accessibility I didn't know about, so I can't leave them off from what I've heard. I haven't been there. Tulsa, I see Seattle, Minneapolis, Miami, Houston Airport system. Carrie: Yeah. Eric: A lot of airports are doing a lot, and the New York airports, New York/New Jersey Port Authority, they have accessibility and universal design in all the new construction. Carrie: And they have a lot going on over there, yeah. Eric: A lot. Carrie: Well, awesome. Thank you so much for letting us take your time today. Eric: All right. [Outro] Wendy: Thanks for joining us in The Hold Room for this special podcast series exploring the new passenger experience. You can find more from this series on the ACC Training Hub—that’s—or wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, etc. Follow us for more content from the Airport Consultants Council. You can support this podcast by leaving a rating or review and by telling your friends and colleagues about the podcast. Thanks again.
  • Season 2 Episode 5: Courtney Pene
    In this episode of the Hold Room, Courtney Pene at San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport talks about how the airport is enriching the passenger experience by engaging perspectives from multiple stakeholders, including their own diverse staff, addressing family travel needs and implementing various initiatives to help ease the stress of navigating airports. The Hold Room, Season 2 Episode 5 – Courtney Pene Transcript [Introduction] TJ: Welcome to The Hold Room with ACC: a quick update on all things relating to airport development as well as the Airport Consultants Council. Laura Canham: This episode is part of the passenger experience headers hosted by ACC's Terminal and Facilities Committee in this series. We are collecting the experiences and perspectives about the future of passenger travel, including changing demographics such as the US population, aging and becoming more multicultural, new technologies, labor and supply chain. Shortages and what the future may have in store. Thank you for joining us. Paula Nguyen: In this episode of the Hold Room, Courtney Pene at San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport talks about how the airport is enriching the passenger experience by engaging perspectives from multiple stakeholders, including their own diverse staff, addressing family travel needs and implementing various initiatives to help ease the stress of navigating airports. [Interview] Anita Cobb: Hello everybody, we’re excited today to have a really awesome conversation today with Courtney Pene. She works with the San Luis Obispo County Department of Airports and has an awesome position working on some planning and whatnot. Courtney, would you like to get us started with a little introduction to talk about you a little bit Courtney Pene: Absolutely so thank you again for having me. I appreciate it. So my name is Courtney Pene and I'm the deputy director of planning and outreach here at the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport and I've been with the team since January of 2021. So this is almost my 2 year anniversary. Anita Cobb: And let's talk about a little bit about your day-to-day job. What is it that you do for the airports, especially as it relates to the passenger experience? Courtney Pene: As many would agree, the world of aviation changes day-to-day, and I think that's what makes it so exciting, that it's not monotonous. Something new is happening every day. There's new passengers, new planes, you know the conditions are different. So every day something's different and here, as I mentioned, I serve as deputy director of planning and outreach. So that looks like everything from meeting with property owners as it relates to future master plan efforts to talking about diversity, equity, inclusion to meeting with local reporters that want to talk about holiday travel. So it's really exciting. There's always something different, and that's what I truly love. Currently, right now, we’re brainstorming different ideas about how to make the passenger experience more fun, how it can be less stressful and what we can do to really encourage a better atmosphere here at the airport. We realized that airports are inherently very stressful. So whatever we can do to kind of ease that stress, ease that pain and make it a more enjoyable experience for everyone. As a day-to-day kind of look in what I do. Anita Cobb: That's awesome. Laura Canham: Yeah, that's wonderful. Can you share a couple of the ideas you floated around or some things that you're considering to make it more fun? Courtney Pene: One of the things that we were doing right now to just make it more fun is installing a little library here in our airport and we realized that you know everything's gone digital, but there's something great about holding an actual book, and you know, especially for our little passengers, we want to be able to have them walk up to the little library, open it up, and choose their own book for their next adventure, and I think that's a really fun thing to engage the little travelers. Something that we're also working on is trying to figure out how to have kind of a TSA pre-check line for families. I'm a new mom myself and I have an 11-month-old son and so I see the world now through a different lens and it's really pushing that right? So we want to try to see if we can figure out a way to make that happen with our local TSA to have a passenger experience that's better for families, right? You have to check-in all sorts of stuff and whether it be food, whether it be you know a car seat, things like that. So how do you make that easier? Another exciting thing, as I mentioned, that we're working on is a diversity, equity and inclusion learning series. And that's really to focus on the passenger experience here at the airport. How we as airports deliver customer service and how it's received as a customer experience and we really want to deliver it as one. We realize that there's lots of different entities here on the airport, whether it be staff, whether it be rental, car agencies, airlines, and so. How do you give something that looks like a unified message? How do you give a better experience for people? So lots of different things kind of looming around festering and brainstorming in my head every night at 2:00 o'clock in the morning, but that's just a little glimpse of what we're trying to do to make it a better experience for all. Anita Cobb: That is amazing, and I think something that you mentioned that's really cool is that you want to use all your stakeholders to work together on defining what that passenger experience is. Can you talk a little bit about what are some of your strategies to think about inclusion? Courtney Pene: So for strategies on inclusion we really see that our airport staff. We have a smaller airport team. There's 25 full-time individuals, but we realized that you know the airport experience is really comprised of everyone, right? It's not just our team, but it's the airlines, the rental car agencies, TSA, everybody in between. So we really want to engage everyone, even you know the concessionaires and say “hey, how do we provide a top quality experience for everyone?”. You know we want everyone to feel welcomed. We want everyone to know that this is, you know, an extension of us and we want them to feel included in it. So it's really important to engage those stakeholders because we're not the only ones that make things work right. They have very intimate experiences with the passengers, right? So they're helping processing their bags. They're getting them their rental cars. So it's how do we deliver a consistent message and we want to help provide that training, and we want to have everybody on board. So the strategy is really reaching out and having that dialogue. Our Airport Director is a fan and she really kind of drives home the importance of having the inclusive conversation rather than just having that top down messaging so it's not just virtual, but it's in person and I think that's sometimes scary for people these days now. But really, trying to take off the veil and saying hey, you know we want to deliver the best customer experience at a top quality one for everybody and how do we do that as a team? Laura Canham: I love that because communication is so important throughout this entire process and open and honest communication especially, so kudos to you, so I'm going to switch from one spectrum of young families to the other side, the aging population. Have you seen more of your passengers from that group use the airport, or is there anything that you're paying attention to as part of the passenger experience or as part of the terminal that you're adjusting? You're changing to be able to adapt to that? Courtney Pene: Great question, so I think that you know the aging population is something that we look at and I constantly have to think like how would my parents go through the airport? How would my grandparents go through it? And my interpretation is that everybody wants to push technology and it's like, oh, add this add this, add this, add this, add this, but not everybody is attuned to technology. And so we're realizing, hey, it's really great to have everything available on your smartphone and you know, just show your phone, click on the app and the ticketing process is underway. But from the aging population perspective, we really want to dial back and make things simpler as well, so it's not doing all the technology, also having the most basic kind of processes. So right now we are actually undergoing renovation of our parking system and I know that sounds really elementary, but it's important that you know, everyone's saying, hey, let's do a text to park, let's do you know, log online and all these things. But not everybody feels comfortable with that, so we're also having a kiosk that's located inside the terminal. If you want to pay with cash, that is an option and we will have staff available when we first install those machines to help walk people through it, and we wanted to do something that was very basic to eliminate options, eliminates confusion for everybody, but then also makes things easier, right? As I shared before, I think airports are inherently stressful, and so whatever we can do to make that process easy for everyone and easy for all, I think that's important. So maybe not jumping to every technology that we see, but also seeing like, hey, you know, is that really going to benefit everyone because the last thing we want to do is exclude the entire population from visiting our airport and trying to connect with people. Laura Canham: So Courtney, are there any other initiatives that San Luis Obispo are taking on, or any considerations that you have for new and exciting innovations and strategies to help passengers? Courtney Pene: Something great that the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport is working on here at our commercial airport, besides our diversity, equity and inclusion Learning Series, is an element of invisible disabilities that we want to address so that is including everything from neurodiversity challenges so it can be ADHD, it can be autism, it can be anxiety. Through that we want to share the sunflower, which is a program that really focuses on acknowledging that there are invisible disabilities. And you know, through that we want to put sunflower stickers up on the outside of our facility outside of the terminal and that really denotes that we are an environment and a facility that welcomes passengers who needed some extra time and some extra TLC within our facility. So when passengers go to the ticket counter they can request a sunflower sticker. They can request a sunflower lanyard. They put that lanyard on and it helps notify the entire airport team whether it be the airlines, whether it be TSA, or our staff members that are going through the airport that you might need some extra TLC, tender love and care just as you go through the airport, right? You may need some extra patience. You might need additional assistance and whether it be carrying your luggage, you know finding your way through the terminal and it's something that we want to do again to enhance the customer experience for all right? So it's not just families, it's not just the aging population, but it's everyone that has any type of challenge. The airports are stressful, so we want to eliminate the stress for all. What that eventually will look like? We want to host an event here at the airport that really shows people that the flying can be for everyone, so you know it's taking an individual from the ticket counter and showing them how to check in and that checking in is easy if you go through this process, then escorting them over to TSA. And showing them how the process works and inviting them through security and. How does it work and then eventually inviting them to the gate and showing them this is the aircraft that you're going to be boarding. This is the process that we use, and so it's really demystifying the whole airport experience for someone who might need the extra tender love and care, the extra patience. So really, focusing on these invisible disabilities is something that we want to do because it helps capture a population that is really terrified of the world of aviation. And we want to show them that it's cool, and then it's accessible and it's something for everyone. Anita Cobb: Nice, so that's really awesome. I mean, as you're as you're thinking about the ways that you're working on different types of experiences for different passengers. And not only that, but also just for your airport in general. Thinking about sustainability and resilience, is there anything cool that you're doing to work with any community members to talk about the different ways that you're trying to improve your passenger experience? Courtney Pene: So the San Luis County Regional Airport has engaged our local college which is Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. As we embark on moving forward with our airport carbon accreditation, it's a very new thing for us. The city of San Luis Obispo, where our airport is, is very advanced in the environmental realm and they have been a very aggressive climate action plan. Cal Poly as a university has a very aggressive climate action plan as well, and they actually have a whole institute that is directed towards making positive policy improvements. So as a result walking into this field, recognizing that we are not the experts, we wanted to tap into our youth in the community who has an incredible amount of passion about climate action plans and reducing carbon emissions and all the good things that lead to resiliency. So we are working hand in hand with a group of about 25 students to help us process the data and to help develop policy recommendations for our airport. Going forward, we recognize that we have the ability to implement. We also recognize that we don't always know what's new and exciting, and we don't have our pulse on those types of things so engaging the student population has really been exciting for us and. It's opened up our eyes to possibilities as they are doing research throughout the globe, so it's definitely an exciting time to have the youth engaged. Laura Canham: How long has that program been going on? Courtney Pene: Two months. Laura Canham: Oh, OK, very new, that's awesome. Anita Cobb: That's awesome as you're talking about what's important, and I know you mentioned earlier that you have a young family and I know that your staff is pretty diverse and you know all of your experience outside of the airport. So what does it look like to think about your staff and what may motivate your lens on the passenger experience. You talked about a TSA lane for families and things like that. What else is it about your staff that you guys are using to motivate how you're thinking about your passengers? Courtney Pene: Yeah, you know our team of 25. We are coming from all facets of life right? Everything enriches those experiences for our team. We do have a very young staff. I will say a lot have families. So it's really taking at it from that lens. But then it's also having the conversation right? As I mentioned, we don't want it to be a top down approach here at this airport. We really want it to be an inclusive conversation. And what we have found is that they really enjoy it, you know? Everybody wants to be a part of the conversation and and have really taken that to heart. You know we are looking at some different things creatively right now and they were like, oh, you don't have to ask the Operations team but you do because everybody loves it. Everybody wants to feel like they're included in the conversation. And we want to walk the walk here and talk the talk and have that conversation always. So it's talking to them about what experiences they've gotten from the past. We just had some folks join our team. One is a former NYPD officer, so he's been helping us look at some different security measures that we have at the airport here. We just had a member join our team who was a former teacher, and so it's really tapping into those different types of expertise that I think is so valuable and it enriches our team and as a result, we'll enrich the passenger experience because you have different people from all walks of life who look at things, not just the normal policy wonks. Anita Cobb: One thing I guess we didn't talk a lot about. We talked a lot about San Luis Obispo, but you also have Oceano which is really cool that you have your commercial airport and you have a general aviation airport. Is there anything that you're thinking about differently between the passenger experience in those two places, or any synergies between the two? Courtney Pene: So Oceano County Airport is one that's general aviation focused, and you know it's down located in the southern portion of our county. Our focus is really turning now towards general aviation and how to, I guess, reinvest in that property and reinvest in that neighborhood. We have a campground on that airport. Many people don't know about it. We would like to revitalize the area so encourage campers to come with their family. We are putting new restroom facilities to shower facilities, making the campground itself something that's more inviting so you know, even putting on the ground, the airport itself is about half a mile from the beach. So when you fly in, you see it and it's something that we want to do to, again, reinvest in the property. Ideally that would be an airport that we would love to do more community outreach and have schools visit the airport and learn about aviation. There's lots of different programs that the FAA has, like AVseed, that I think would be wonderful, again just programs that we want to share with the community to help them see the aviation is not just about buying a ticket and flying right, it's a whole profession, it’s something that makes the community work. The General Aviation airport is great because it provides space for emergency responders. And we want the local community to see that as well. San Luis Obispo County itself is very isolated from big cities. If you've ever been here it's about 4 hours to Los Angeles and about 4 hours to San Jose, so people often chuckle and say like, how do we get to you? And you're like you can't. Unless you fly to one of our eight hubs, then you can fly in here or drive. You know it's really important for us to share with people that the general Aviation Airport provides that linkage to the the national system, but then also provides a really important public safety component as well, so we often hear from people like: Oh wow, but I don't need CALSTAR or I don't need you know any type of emergency helicopter. And it's like, yeah, you don't today, thankfully, but when you do, you want it to show up and so that provides an important link. But ultimately we would like to, you know, revitalize the airport, invite the community, invite the region to that airport so they can see truly the passion that we have behind aviation and help share that with everyone. Laura Canham: That's so important because I've worked on a couple of airports in California and you know earthquakes is always an issue. So while you think at some point a road can get you somewhere or a plane can get you somewhere, what if the earthquake breaks something that is an accessibility point, and so having helicopter access is so very important. I know also for firefighting like to be able to have a station to start off somewhere to be able to provide those services. I'm glad to hear that that's part of your network. Anita Cobb: In your parting words of wisdom and all of your awesome experience with your airports, is there is any knowledge that you would have or like words of advice to either consultants or airports on how to start thinking or prioritizing their passenger experience. Courtney Pene: To me it's down to the very basics, right? You want to provide a warm environment that's welcoming to everyone that isn't scary inherently. Airports are very scary and very stressful. And so what can we do to lessen that, right? Bringing the human element. I think we we still push technology everywhere in the world. I was listening to a podcast on the way to work and it was talking about a world without e-mail. It's this new book that came and I can't even process that right? And it's like oh, but what do you do? So how do we bring the human element back is so important to us, and realizing that it's all not about transactions, it's about the ultimate experience. I met a family in the airport today. They were like, oh, you know we're flying to go visit grandma for the first time and their little one was about two years old and probably couldn't comprehend much what of what I was saying. But it was exciting because you could see in that little ones’ eyes right, the colors, the noises, all these fun things but the parents were very stressed because it was like I'm trying to get somewhere, but I have this little human to take care of and all of this. I know I've talked a lot about families, but it's again bringing that human element back to it and taking away the stress and saying, hey, you know you can go to the nursing room and, you know, have some quiet space to reconnect with your little one to take away the stimulation. You can go sit over here, grab a book to help, take away the stimulation, ease the stress. You need parking and you know, we’ll help you do the machines. We can use cash. You don't always have to make things so automated, but really taking it back to a human element and having those personal conversations and helping people because that's ultimately what we're here to do. Laura Canham: Well said thank you, Courtney so much for joining us today. This has been a really great conversation. Courtney Pene: Yeah, thank you. [Outro] Wendy: Thanks for joining us in The Hold Room for this special podcast series exploring the new passenger experience. You can find more from this series on the ACC Training Hub—that’s—or wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, etc. Follow us for more content from the Airport Consultants Council. You can support this podcast by leaving a rating or review and by telling your friends and colleagues about the podcast. Thanks again.
  • Season 2 Episode 4: Angela Berry-Roberson
    Max and Laura talk to Angela Berry-Roberson, Vice President of Civil Rights Advisory Services and Compliance for WSP, about tackling accessibility and equity at airports concerning signage, language needs, walking distances to TNCs, and her experiences from a civil rights attorney’s perspective. The Hold Room, Season 2 Episode 4 Transcript [Introduction] TJ: Welcome to The Hold Room with ACC: a quick update on all things relating to airport development as well as the Airport Consultants Council. Laura: This episode is part of the passenger experience series hosted by ACC Terminal and Facilities Committee. In this series we are collecting the experiences and perspectives about the future of passenger travel, including changing demographics such as the U.S. population aging and becoming more multicultural, new technologies, labor and supply chain shortages, and what the future may have in store. Thank you for joining us in the Hold Room. Paula: Angela Berry-Roberson, Vice President of Civil Rights Advisory Services and Compliance for WSP, talks about tackling accessibility and equity at airports concerning signage, language needs, walking distances to TNCs, and her experiences from a civil rights attorney’s perspective. Laura: Welcome Angela and thank you for joining us today. Do you want to tell our listeners a little bit about yourself and your role? Angela: Sure. First of all, thank you for having me. My name is Angela Berry-Roberson. I'm the Vice President of Civil Rights advisory services and compliance for WSP. And as you can imagine, we do a lot with airports all over the nation and the world. My focus lately has been, of course, making sure the experiences are equitable experience in whether it be in services and accessibility. But a lot of my focus has been on contract equity and making sure that there's the involvement of diverse firms and local firms in some of the major development that is going on all over. I'm a recovering attorney by trade. Civil rights’ attorney, actually. And so this is a passion of mine, and I'm blessed to do something I, I truly love to do. And over the time I've been my entire career in transportation, both transit highway and, and so this is exciting. So, the experience I can tell you experience from all different types of ways and all different perspectives. So that's a little snapshot, Ohh, I hail from Dallas, TX and, yes, despite some of the headaches that we've had earlier, I am a Dallas Cowboys fan. But thanks for having me here today. Max: Great, no shame about the Dallas Cowboys fan. You got to support the local team. If you could start off by describing to us what a positive passenger experience means to you, that'd be great. Angela: A positive passenger experience means friendly faces, excellent customer service. If there is anything that is needed, timely quick to go through TSA, quick to get to my gate. Relax, clean atmosphere and then of course the airlines making sure that everything goes through because even though it's not “with the airport”, many of us think of that extensions from gate to plane is also part of that passenger experience. Max: So, a lot of what you just described in terms of moving through the passenger terminal is almost I would classify as functional in a way, but given your background as a former civil rights attorney and you're focusing on equity issues, are there elements there that play into positive passenger experience that you would think about as well that perhaps are overlooked by a lot of folks? Angela: I do believe so. I mean right now, many of our airports are under construction or in a remodeling reformat because the age of a lot of our airport. Whether that's new builds or modification and upgrading. One of the things that I look for is a diversity professional and practitioner is like who's working on our projects. Are there diverse teams that are out there that experience goes from the concessionaires to not only as well is there a variety of of services and a diversity of services that would address different populations? I travel a lot with my 82-year-old mother and so making sure that when we go through with the wheelchair that there is accessibilities when she wants to be stubborn and be that independent senior that she always is. And wants to use the cane opposed to being being wheeled. Is it easy for her to go in in a bathroom out of bathroom. How does that all work? From a diversity perspective, I do look at the fair accessibility equal accessibility in diverse markets. Actually, I did experience this the other day where there was a woman who did not speak much English and she was about to exit the secured area where all she needed was a bathroom. Do we have enough signs? In different languages, so people understand that it exit is an exit opposed to a a bathroom. Laura: You touched upon some really good points of some of the other things that we wanted to talk to you about, which is, you know, the demographics of the U.S. are changing. We have an aging population. We have a continuously more diverse, more multilingual multicultural population, and you touched upon some really good points. So, I wanted to dive into that a little bit deeper and see what are some of the challenges that you've seen? What are some of the ways that solutions that could be implemented to mitigate those challenges and also, what have you seen that's really neat and really good that should be continued to be expanded? Angela: I've been blessed or cursed. I don't know because I travel quite a bit both domestically and internationally, and I've traveled with my college aged daughters, my husband, by myself on business, as well as with my 82 year old mother. And so we've been to several different places and so. I can tell you the experience is different. Having somebody who's there, we've waited as long as almost 30 minutes to have somebody to take my mother through security. Just to get a wheelchair. Should not happen. Then there's those waiting that for you at the gate, taking you all the way to car rentals, people going over and beyond. So I've seen a lot of different ways. I think we just definitely need to address the language barriers that do happen, as well as the mobility, language, bathrooms. The ability to see what's open, what's not that helps in the ease of that .Anybody who's dealt with the women's bathroom and making sure that we can get through instead of trying to open a door, knowing whether or not it's occupied or not. I've seen that in a number of facilities that have happened and and that has made a difference. Security I told people you can't travel me unless you have TSA PreCheck. That really does make a world of a difference. I know everybody's not blessed then that becomes an equity issue. If I can't afford to pay the amount in order to get that service, is that an equitable question? That you can ask. Even with the parking facility because you know, again, the experience really starts, not necessarily from the physical airport, but also from the parking experience that is part of the experience of making it accessible. Or that Uber, Lyft being able to walk no longer than a few feet, or at least some accessible through a train or tram makes it a lot more easier than having to walk like a half a mile to even get to the Uber or Lyft. That is an experience that people really need to look. Especially in this day and age where you have so many Ubers and Lyfts. There's one airport I have to walk literally a half a mile to get there. And think about what somebody with a wheelchair: How do you do that? So, there are good things that are happening using some of the technologies and innovations of letting us know where the bathrooms and the parking, which ones, if it's red, light green light that helps. There are some that are really good as far as language making sure that the signage is a good thing as well. That is important when airports are thinking about their experience. How are we making sure that there's accessibility and there is the same benefits for all? And then especially for those that work at the airport. What is their experience? Do they have comfortable parking? Do they have access to get to the terminals? That is not burdensome. These are all the things that I also think about when running through airports, and I'm just like: Oh! We just want to make sure that not only is it equitable for the customer experience, but part of that customer experience from an airport perspective are those that work at the airport as well. Max: One of the complaints I've heard a lot of about if a toll road is going to be implemented, it's viewed as sometimes are regressive tax because it doesn't take into account the income of the folks who are using it. And TSA PreCheck seems like it could be something similar. It's it's not a cheap program necessarily, and it's the same flat amount or not graduated for your income. And same with parking as well. Angela: I think the burden for TSA PreCheck is not as bad as this of the parking: $85 for five years. Parking is another story. I definitely think that there should be some discount for those that work at the airport, and I think a lot of airports do do this, but they need to think about it where those parking places are. I understand the customer experience, we want to be close. From the customers for the those who work there, they want to be close to or have accessible transportation services from those far lots to get there. And maybe that is the benefit of working there. Laura: Some of the really cool things that you touched upon are trends that we see all over. So one of the things that we talked about in a more recent interview with Anita was about some thoughts on: how to attract, you know with this labor shortage everywhere, how to attract more people into the aviation environment? And so some of the things that you said can there be a benefit of that the employees park close by. Rather than some of the passengers how to make it really easy for them to to access that. So I'm glad that you brought that up too, because they just think it's really neat to be able to have very similar ideas and we're all trying to work on the same challenges that we're facing right now. So I guess in line with that, are there any newer emerging technologies that you're aware of? Or is there anything that you've seen that's really cool that you wish would spread? Or on the flip side, do you have any ideas of things that you think would really help out the system for a passenger experience for all the things that we talked about? Angela: My biggest thing to help is signage all day, every day. You know many signs may be for those that are visually impaired, there might be signs. But having more signs in multiple languages outside of the international terminal, that is definitely one to consider. Understanding and recognizing the distance between sometimes connecting gates for the mobility challenged. That is something that to really take into account. And I understand we've got our royalty cars for certain people and the accessibility of the wheelchairs. But I think if there is a better like mechanism, like some if no one is there is there a way we can call these passengers more so than anybody else? They recognize that when it comes to the airport, sometimes it's the challenge of just being there. And so what can we do for those who are able bodied to think outside that box on getting to where we need to get to? There was a program I did once: stepping in the shoes of those that are not you and that have challenges. So going through the airport with a blindfold to see what happens. Or not being able to communicate. Let's say I wasn't able to communicate, how would that happen? And then what's the level of customer service? So, there's a lot to do, but it's being moved. I know, especially with equity being the major element of the administration these days, I think that that is definitely a positive thing because you are having these conversations. And you are thinking outside the box. It's not just about the revenue, it's also about that experience. So the revenue can come if the experience is there. And then you know, trying to get a new set of workforce into aviation. Because of the civil rights of what I do workforce development is part of what I do usually on projects more so than industries. Because I do have a recently graduated college kids, I think it is important to understand there's many different elements of the aviation industry, besides flying a plane. You can start into or having people who work at the airport rotate into those customer service even if you are in accounting. You spend a week, you know what, and that week you do the customer service. And start talking to people in high school about the aviation and all the different careers in aviation that are not just flying a plane. Even though we need more pilots! But it's also, that customer service agent and then with that give them the ability to also, if I want to go to school give me a benefit of that if I want to move up into the airport world. Show some kind of professional development even in the the most entry level positions, regardless of what they are. Laura: Absolutely, and I think it's coming back honestly. I mean there is one airport we work with here in Massachusetts that I think this is the second year now that they're doing something like that. They call it a career fair where they invite all the local middle schools to be able to attend and they have vendors of consultants. They have, planes, planes you can see like static displays and environmentalists and airport concessionaires and rental cars and everything related to aviation to come and ask questions. They can touch things. They can talk to people they get an idea for: What degrees do you need? What kind of education do you need? Mechanics right pilots. What What's kind of a range of income you can expect? Do you need to go to college? Do you get an associates? Do you get trained so it's just like a training program? Not even a degree. And so I think we do need more of that. And I love to see those programs come about and get continued. How successful they really are a lot of the time. The exposure right? For children to be able to go to something like this for aviation and then to go to something like that for cars and then to go to something else in the environmental fields and biology and all the different fields. Because the more exposure you get, the more you understand about yourself and the more likely you're going to find something you truly love and are passionate about and give so much. Angela: And you do need to start early. I sometimes even elementary, even if it's just setting a relationship with some of the schools. And it should be diverse schools, by the way. One time a year you're going to, you know, the airport and do this. One time a year you're going to the toll authority so you can see how cars run and the intricacies of that. Then their advocacy groups. I'm a part of WTS Women in Transportation, as well as COMTO conference of minority transportation offices. And having those groups work with the youth to already start in the educational we have all these conferences all over the place. But why not take the first part of the day, well, I think some of the conferences are to have that industry day. Max: Well, Angela, thank you so much for joining us in the whole room today. This has been a great conversation and we're looking forward to what the future of airports holds from an equity standpoint. Angela: Absolutely, this is amazing. Thank you so much for having me today. I appreciate it. [Outro] Wendy: Thanks for joining us in the fold room for this special podcast series exploring the new passenger experience. 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