Air Passengers seek more technology to give them more control over their travel experience

25 October, 2017

It is no real surprise to learn that the results of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) 2017 Global Passenger Survey (GPS) has revealed that air passengers expect technology to give them more personal control over their travel experience. The survey, based on 10,675 responses from more than 152 countries across all regions in the world, provides insight into what passengers want from their air travel experience. Topping the list were:

  • Automation of more airport processes
  • A single identity token for all travel processes using biometric identification
  • Real-time information sent directly to personal devices
  • More efficient security - without having to remove or unpack personal items
  • More seamless border control

Digital travel processes are the expectation and passengers clearly want more. The GPS found that 82% of travellers would like to be able to use a digital passport on their smartphones for as many travel activities as possible, from booking flights to passing through the airport. Biometric identification systems were the technology of choice with 64% favouring biometric identifiers as their preferred travel token.

Passengers also want to be able to do more of the airport processes themselves by taking advantage of the latest digital self-service options. Baggage was the top activity that passengers wanted more control over. The GPS found that 68% of those surveyed want to self-tag their bags with electronic bag-tags being the preferred option. In addition 48% of passengers wanted to self-drop their bag.

The survey found that the number of passengers using automated immigration gates and kiosks increased by 6% in 2017, reaching 58% with a satisfaction rate of 90%. Boarding the aircraft was another area in which passengers wanted to have more control with 72% of passengers preferring to self-board, an increase of 2% over 2016.

Passengers also want airlines and airports to keep them informed throughout their journey. The survey found that 85% of passengers want to be able to check the status of their flight and 50% want to track their bag throughout the trip. Travellers also wanted more information to help then plan their passage through the airport with 51% wanting to know wait times at security and border control and 58% wanting to know wait times at arrival customs, a 17% increase on 2016.

Providing more real-time information was also identified by 63% of passengers as the key to improving their experience during travel disruptions. SMS messaging remains the preferred option for receiving travel notifications. However this trend is reversing with 28% of passenger preferring communication through smartphone apps and 26% through email.

Passengers once again identified airport security and border control processes as two of their biggest pain points when travelling. The top frustrations were the intrusiveness of having to remove personal items (60%), the inconvenience of having to unpack electronic devices in carry-on bags (52%) and the variation in security screening procedures at different airports (47%).

The GPS found that 42% of passengers, would prefer to use their own devices- Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) - to access inflight entertainment options. Greater connectivity promises to be a win for both the carriers and the passengers they carry.

IATA, in collaboration with Airports Council International (ACI), have launched the New Experience in Travel and Technologies (NEXTT) initiative to develop new on-ground concepts to optimise the use of emerging technologies, processes and design developments to meet with a projected doubling of air travel demand by 2036.

The partners plan to use NEXTT to help deliver a common vision to enhance the on-ground transport experience, guide industry investments and help governments improve the regulatory framework. Specifically, NEXTT will investigate how passengers, cargo, baggage and aircraft move through the complete travel journey with a focus on change in three areas:

  • Off-airport activities : NEXTT will explore the possibilities of transferring on-site processes off-site, such as security processing and baggage check and drop-off, to streamline the airport experience.
  • Advanced processing technology: NEXTT will investigate how advance processing technology, such as tracking and identification technology, automation and robotics can improve safety, security, the customer experience and operational efficiency.
  • Interactive decision-making: NEXTT will promote the better use of data, predictive modelling and artificial intelligence to facilitate real-time decision-making, a key element in improving the passenger experience and optimizing operational efficiency.

IATA and ACI plan to work with their respective airline and airport members, and other associations, service providers, engineering firms and manufacturers to align the visions for the future passenger and cargo journey. A number of key airports including Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Bangalore International Airport, Dubai International Airport, London Heathrow Airport and Shenzhen Airport Group are already actively involved in a number of projects which explore NEXTT concepts.

READ MORE: You can view the full IATA 2017 Global Passenger Survey