Air passengers say they are happier when technology smooths their way through passport checks

28 February, 2019

Airline passengers are using automated technology for passport checks at double the rate recorded in 2017 and are more satisfied when doing so too, according to the SITA 2019 Passenger IT Insights, co-sponsored by Air Transport World. The research shows that in 2018, 44% of passengers passed through automated passport control, a jump from 21% in 2017.

The report explores how technology is contributing to a smoother passenger experience at every step of the journey. At passport control, a traditional pain point of the journey, passengers were 3.85% more satisfied when they used self-scanning gates to verify their ID, compared to those using agent-assisted controls. These technology users had a satisfaction rate of 8.36 out of 10.

One of the standout findings of the report is that at every point in the journey, where passengers use technology, the rate of satisfaction is higher and airlines and airports are now increasingly seeing the benefit of their technology investments in making it easy for passengers along their journey, acknowledges Matthys Serfontein, president, air travel solutions at SITA.

“Over the years, booking, check-in and bag drop have increasingly become automated and passengers like it. Interestingly, this year the report shows how introducing automated passport controls, in collaboration with government and border agencies, also increases passenger satisfaction,” he explains.

Automated gates used at boarding are, it appears from the research, another success for the industry and its passengers. Not only do they speed up the processing of passengers but data shows that they support more efficient operations and faster turnarounds. The SITA Insights study shows that satisfaction is 2.2% higher when passengers scan their own documents to board.

“Across the board we have found that passengers are keen to use the biometric self-service process, when given a choice, over 90% of travellers typically opt in. Actions speak louder than words and it's becoming very clear that people like using biometrics for easy travel,” says Mr Serfontein.

It seems that when it comes to verifying their identity, passengers are ready to use technology even more and in a variety of ways. SITA reports that 59% are ‘very willing’ to use their mobiles for ID verification along the journey, with a further 33% open to the idea.

While proving your identity using your mobile device is not an option widely available today, with nine out of ten passengers potentially welcoming this service, airlines and airports can be confident when moving to mobile services for ID identification. Passengers are looking to make their journey as easy as possible and mobile is top of the technologies they want to use.

The key findings of SITA’s report were based on a survey of passengers from 20 countries across the Americas, Asia, Europe, Middle East and Africa, representing over 70% of global passenger traffic.