Global travel rebound, now close to 2019 levels, has proven to be challenging for airports and airlines, according to SITA, but increased traveller acceptance of technology in areas such as biometrics and robotics in customer service bodes well.
SITA recently launched the findings of the 2023 Passenger IT Insights and found that “passengers were increasingly comfortable using technology and demanding new services during travel”.
The report said passenger behaviour had changed, and that biometric identity verification is now more accepted, especially for boarding, security and identity verification.
Sumesh Patel, SITA president, Asia-Pacific, commented that SITA Lab Solutions was testing no passport biometric technology at airports, and Singapore was taking the lead.
“No other country is looking at it now in terms of thinking, implementation and co-operating with stakeholders,” he opined, adding that Singapore’s investment in biometrics would augment its existing system.
He continued: “When Singapore is fully biometric, incoming travellers can register their passports and exit without them and do not have to see an immigration officer anymore.”
SITA is also experimenting with robots using generative AI for passenger assistance as well as in airport operations.
The 2023 survey showed a clear and sustained preference for check-in bags, with three in four passengers expecting to book at least one intermodal trip across air, land and sea, and wanted the ability to entrust baggage handling to smart systems and have operators effectively handle and resolve disruptions.
SITA, Patel shared, was helping airlines solve the problem of lost bags, save money, and deliver a better passenger experience with its auto-reflight technology.
He said Lufthansa had begun using SITA’s new offering, Bag Reflight, mainly on its regional network.
Passengers, post-Covid, “want control of their travel journey” via their smart devices and to leverage biometrics, Patel added.
According to SITA, passengers in 2023 continue to adopt mobile as a remote control for the journey, with boosted usage across booking, check-in, dwell time, on board, and bag collection.