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Preparing your Airport Operation for the Olympic Games: Check-In Planning

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28th May 2015

A key challenge for airports posed by the Olympic Games is managing the surges in passenger and baggage demand on peak days, in particular on the main departure day. In this article we explore the challenges of planning check-in operations for London Heathrow Airport, its airlines and ground handlers in preparation for the 2012 Olympic Games.


We have been involved in planning check-in operations for many different airports, with many different complexities. However, none of these scenarios quite compare to the unique experience of establishing a check-in operation for Olympic and Paralympic athletes at an Athletes’ Villages.


Check-in plans for a typical airport operation are created based on a schedule, a set of planning rules and subsequently an allocation of work against resources i.e. desks and people. Passengers present themselves in a ‘known’, predictable arrival pattern before the scheduled departure time, and the check-in environment, facilities and passenger characteristics are familiar to staff.


Check-in planning for the Olympics changes these rules. A large proportion of Olympics Family members, media, and visitors choose to leave the host city on the days immediately following the Olympics closing ceremony. “This often creates a peak departure wave unlike anything the host city airport has ever experienced,” explains David Calder, Director of o&i consulting. “As a result, the airport is faced with the challenge of finding a solution for processing a high volume of additional passengers and bags whilst continuing normal operations and meeting service expectations.”


At Heathrow, the solution to successfully handling the peak demand expected after the 2012 Olympics was to segregate the athletes and their baggage from the business as usual activity in the terminals. Therefore a remote check-in operation was designed to take place at the Athletes’ Village.


Planning for a unique operation of this scale at a remote location involved a unique set of parameters, restricted resource and space, unfamiliar facilities, and many risks. Existing planning software could not successfully accommodate the extensive list of planning parameters; o&i developed a bespoke planning model specifically for this purpose.


With a heuristic approach to planning check-in for the Olympic peak departures, we developed a solution which satisfied all of the preliminary requirements, and then set to improve on the plan by optimising resources (handler teams or trucks) and accommodating additional requests.


This complex task required exceptional preparation, a dynamic planning methodology, good communications with stakeholders, and a strong team. As a result, our team was able to create and deliver a successful remote check-in plan.


If we can help you with check-in planning for everyday or unique circumstances, or if you would like to learn more about o&i consulting’s successful planning methodologies, please contact: Fiona Rees at

Download this article: Airport Check-In Planning for the Olympics Games

Categories: Blogs, Major Sporting Events, Operations Planning

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