Predicting waiting times at security

Schiphol has carried out a pilot project to inform travellers of the ideal time to arrive at the airport so that they can pass through the security checks as quickly as possible. During the pilot – which ran in September and October 2019 – we predicted the waiting times for security in Departure Hall 1 and incorporated our findings into a personal travel schedule for travellers.

Centrale security

For a selection of flights from Departure Hall 1, travellers were offered advice on the Schiphol website about the ideal time to go to security and were told how long the waiting time would be. This information was presented as part of the general travel schedule that accompanies the flight information.

Schiphol has developed its own internal data model using historical data and expected passenger numbers. This data forms the basis for predicting the waiting times at security. The project was carried out for a specially selected number of flights to enable us to measure the impact of this functionality and compare it to flights where these predictions were not made.

The travel advice was shown on the website once the gate was known. From two hours before the scheduled departure of the flight, the same information about waiting times was also shown on the physical signs at airport security.

During the pilot project we were able to reach a large number of passengers. The predictions proved to be highly accurate and were therefore a valuable source of information to help reduce travel stress.

In the first half of 2020, we will examine ways of further optimising the data model and applying it more widely to include Schiphol’s other departure filters. We are also planning to study whether we can positively influence passenger behaviour by predicting waiting times.