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Gatwick trials boarding aircraft by window seats first

London Gatwick is trialling a new boarding technique in a bid to avoid queues and congestion at gates.

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During the two-month trial, large digital screens and staff will be placed at Gate 101 to show passengers the order to board.  A range of sequences will be trialled to test whether they make the process faster, more relaxing and, potentially, reduce the need for large numbers of passengers to rush forward at any stage.

Possible sequences include seating people from the back row to the front with window seats first, middle seats next and aisle seats last.

Passengers who have booked priority boarding – or those who require special assistance or are travelling with young families – will still board first during the trial.

Modelling indicates that these techniques may be able to reduce boarding times by up to 10%, compared to conventional methods.

Learnings from the trial, as well as feedback from passengers, will be used to decide whether to take this concept forward or not.

Abhi Chacko, Head of Enabling Technologies and Digital Innovation, Gatwick Airport said:

“We want to explore whether boarding by seat number will avoid queues in the gate room and when boarding the aircraft.

“Early indications are that this new technique has the potential to reduce the overall boarding time.  By communicating to passengers better and boarding passengers by seat number, we also expect to make the whole boarding experience more relaxing and, potentially, prevent large numbers of passenger rushing forward at any stage.”

London Gatwick and VINCI Airports have been early technology innovators for many years. The use of technology to improve operations leads to further ongoing success, particularly true given London Gatwick’s role as a gateway, and as its traffic volumes are predicted to continue to rise.  Following its acquisition earlier this year, London Gatwick has become one of three VINCI Airports Innovation Centres of Excellence.  

Gatwick

New COVID-19 screening service launches at Gatwick Airport

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Gatwick Airport andExpressTest (a division of Cignpost Diagnostics Limited) has today announced the opening of a brand-new COVID-19 screening centre. 

The site, located within the airport’s Long Stay Car Park at the South Terminal, will offer a fast and accurate and lab-analysed PCR swab test.  It will be available for both passengers, employees based at Gatwick and the general public, including local residents, from Monday, 30th November.  

The facility is for air passengers who may require a valid, negative COVID-19 test certificate for destinations requiring one from up to 96 hours before travel, with passengers needing to check with travel providers that the test meets the specific requirements destinations ask for. 

It will also help those who may simply want extra assurance that they are not currently carrying the virus. 

The facility could also, with any necessary amendments, satisfy requirements of the Government’s expected “test and release” post arrival scheme allowing air passengers to reduce quarantine time required after travelling back from certain destinations.  Anyone with recognisable COVID-19 symptoms will still need to use an NHS testing facility. 

Air passengers and any employees based at Gatwick Airport will be charged a subsidised rate of £60 to use the screening service, whilst it will also be available for the general public for £99. 

A group discount is also offered, with up to 30% off for groups of four or more, for those who are having the full priced test.

Stewart Wingate, Chief Executive Officer, Gatwick Airport, said:

“Reducing the spread of COVID-19 is a priority for us alongside giving confidence to so many people who have missed travelling during this difficult year.  Our new screening facility is also a convenient service to offer people in the region looking for extra reassurance.  We are pleased to be subsidising the price for our passengers and any staff based at Gatwick so they are compliant with current destination requirements that many of airlines including easyJet, British Airways and TUI fly to.

“Our industry has been decimated by the pandemic and, while we welcome the anticipated  “test and release” scheme from the Government, we want to see an internationally agreed pre-departure testing regime, based on existing risk criteria, to replace the current uncertainty of quarantine and patchwork of testing approaches which currently exists across Europe.  A truly international approach would safely open up most of the UK’s travel routes abroad, while also helping to reduce transmission of the virus.”

ExpressTest Founder Nick Markham said:

“We are delighted to be Gatwick airport’s official screening partner.  We launched ExpressTest to give people peace of mind, whether that’s enabling

travel through our Fit to Fly certificates, or providing the reassurance needed to safely visit friends and family abroad or within the UK.  In the next couple of months we aim to have more than 30 locations operating across the UK, with the ambition of giving the British public the confidence to go about their daily lives in these uncertain times.” 

According to a press release, ExpressTest is delivered using the latest gold standard PCR equipment that is fully CE-IVD certified and manufactured to the highest possible standards, and tests are carried out by specially trained screening practitioners.  

The lab-analysed test results will be emailed or texted to customers typically the next day, with airline passengers advised to schedule a test 48-96 hours prior to their departure time, as a precaution.  Those who screen negative will be emailed a Fit to Fly certificate that is authorised by a doctor, along with their test result, however passengers will be responsible for checking with their travel provider as to whether this document is accepted before booking the screening service. 

Bookings open from Friday, 27th November, with the first test available on Monday, 30th November.

To book a test, people will need to visit www.expresstest.co.uk and select a date and time.  Customers will then be sent a QR code which they must bring with them to their appointment, along with their passport or employee ID. 

Payment will be taken during the booking process. 

Opening hours are 08.00 to 20.00 and customers are asked to arrive 15 minutes prior to appointments.

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