Air passengers want new technology to give them more control and information, as well as to improve efficiency, IATA said in a summary of findings from its 2018 Global Passenger Survey (GPS) which sampled 10,408 respondents from 145 countries.
Real-time journey information wanted
The study found that passengers want to be kept informed throughout their journey, preferably via their personal device.
Receiving information on flight status (82%), baggage (49%) and waiting time at security/immigration (46%) were identified as passengers’ top three priorities after booking a flight.
Real-time baggage tracking throughout the journey was seen as a must for 56% of passengers. IATA pointed out that in line with the findings, airlines and airports are facilitating real-time baggage tracking by implementing tracking at major journey points such as loading and unloading (IATA Resolution 753). The industry is also working on developing a global readiness plan for the proposed introduction of RFID inlays in all baggage tags manufactured after January 2020 in order to meet passenger expectations for real time baggage tracking.
Passengers’ preferred option for receiving information on their baggage and other travel elements was via their mobile device, the survey revealed. Receiving information via SMS or smartphone app was preferred by 73% of passengers. Since 2016 there has been a 10% increase in passengers preferring to receive travel information via a smartphone app.
Digital is preferred but privacy concerns increase
The survey showed that the majority of passengers (65%) are willing to share personal data for expedited security, while 45% are willing to replace their passports with biometric identification.
While highlighting its One ID project, which aims to move passengers from curb to gate using a single biometric travel token, IATA also stressed that concerns over data protection must be addressed.
“As we move more and more towards digital processes, passengers need to be confident that their personal data is safe. IATA is working to establish a trust framework that ensures secure data sharing, legal compliance and privacy,” said Nick Careen, IATA’s senior vice president for airport, passenger, cargo and security.
Human touch still desired amid self-service trends
Passengers want more self-service options, IATA found, with automated check-in preferred by 84% of respondents. A significant portion (47%) prefer to check in online using a smartphone, and only 16% preferred traditional check-in.
Some 70% of passengers want self-service baggage check-in. Only one in three travelers prefers an agent to tag their bag. The electronic bag tag is growing in popularity – favoured by 39% of passengers (up 8 percentage points from 2017).
The overall experience with automated immigration procedures was rated favourably by 74% of passengers. A similar percentage (72%) believe that automated immigration processes are faster and 65% believe they enhance security.
Still, the human touch is preferred by some market segments and for certain situations. For example, senior travellers (65 years and older) have a strong preference for traditional check-in (25% vs global 17%) and bag-drop processes (42% vs global 32%). And when there are travel disruptions 40% of all age groups of passengers want to resolve the situation over the phone and 37% via face-to-face interaction.
Consistent shopping experience
Some 43% of passengers prefer to use a travel agency, TMC or corporate travel department to book their flights.
In light of this, IATA underscored the role of its Airline New Distribution Capability (NDC) in evolving the customer air travel shopping experience and closing the content gap between airline websites and travel agent systems through use of a modern (internet) data transmission standard for communications between airlines and travel agents. NDC will enable airlines to display and sell all of their products in the travel agent channel, including options to allow passengers to personalise their journey around their needs.
Border control process a pain
Passengers identified airport security/border control and boarding processes as two of their biggest pain points when travelling.
The top frustrations with security were the intrusiveness of having to remove personal items (57%), the removal of laptops / large electronic devices from cabin bags (48%) and the lack of consistency in screening procedures at different airports (41%).
To improve the boarding experience, the top three desires of passengers are more efficient queuing at boarding gates (64%), the availability of overhead space on the aircraft (42%) and not having to queue on the air bridge (33%).
“The GPS tells us that passengers want a seamless and secure travel experience from booking to arrival. Airports and airlines are eager to meet evolving passenger expectations. But making the right strategic choices among all the potential innovations is not an easy task. And aligning those choices into a seamless curb-to-gate experience needs a common vision. That’s why we have joined forces with Airports Council International (ACI) in the NEXTT Project (New Experience in Travel and Technologies),” said Careen.