Convenience and simplification are top priorities for passengers in post pandemic environment

2 November, 2022

The top concerns for travel in the post-COVID crisis period are focused on simplification and convenience, according to responses to the 2022 Global Passenger Survey (GPS) from industry body International Air Transport Association (IATA). The study is based on over 10,000 responses from travellers across over 220 countries.  

Passengers want convenience when they plan their travel and when choosing where to depart from, according to the GPS. Their preference is to fly from an airport close to home, have all booking options and services available in one single place, pay with their preferred payment method and easily offset their carbon emissions.

Travel during COVID-19 was “complex, cumbersome and time consuming due to government-imposed travel requirements,” notes Nick Careen, IATA’s senior vice president for operations, safety and security, so there is no real surprise that post-pandemic, passengers want improved convenience throughout their trip. “Digitalisation and use of biometrics to speed up the travel journey is the key,” he says.

Proximity to airport passengers’ main priority

Proximity to the airport was passengers’ main priority when choosing where to fly from (75%). This was more important than ticket price (39%).

Travellers were satisfied being able to pay with their preferred payment method which was available for 82% of travellers. Having access to planning and booking information in one single place was identified as being top priority.

Around one five (18%) passengers said that they offset their carbon emissions, the main reason given by those that did not was not being aware of the option (36%).

Travellers expect same online experience as they get from major retailers

“Today’s travellers expect the same online experience as they get from major retailers like Amazon. Airline retailing is driving the response to these needs,” says Muhammad Albakri, IATA senior vice president financial settlement and distribution services.

It enables airlines “to present their full offer to travellers,” he says, and that puts the passenger “in control of their travel experience with the ability to choose the travel options that they want with convenient payment options”.

Travellers willing to share immigration information for more convenient processing

The GPS responses also shows that most travellers are willing to share their immigration information for more convenient processing, though over a third (37%) said they have been discouraged from travelling to a particular destination because of the immigration requirements. Process complexity was highlighted as the main deterrent by 65% of travellers, 12% cited costs and 8% time.

Where visas are required, 66% of travellers want to obtain a visa online prior to travel, 20% prefer to go to the consulate or embassy and 14% at the airport.

83% of travellers said they would share their immigration information to speed up the airport arrival process. While this is high, it is slightly down from the 88% recorded in 2021.

Borders are opening, but barriers to travel remain

IATA’s Nick Careen acknowledges that while travel has become easier, barriers to travel remain, and he notes countries with complex visa procedures “are losing the economic benefits that these travellers bring”.

“Where countries have removed visa requirements, tourism and travel economies have thrived. And for countries requiring certain categories of travellers to get visas, taking advantage of traveller willingness to use online processes and share information in advance would be a win-win solution,” he adds.

Technology accepted to improve travel experience

The traveller research highlights that passengers are willing to take advantage of technology and re-thought processes to improve the convenience of their airport experience and manage their baggage.

Travellers are willing to complete processing elements off-airport. Approaching half (44%) identified check-in as their top pick for off-airport processing. Immigration procedures were the second most popular “top-pick” at 32%, followed by baggage.  And a high majority (93%) are interested in a special programme for trusted travellers (background checks) to expedite security screening.

Passengers are also interested in more options for baggage handling. Two in three (67%) would be interested in home pick-up and delivery and more (73%) in remote check-in options. Four in five (80%) passengers said that would be more likely to check a bag if they could monitor it throughout the journey. Half (50%) said that they have used or would be interested in using an electronic bag tag.

Three in four passengers want to use biometric data instead of passports and boarding passes

Passengers also see value in biometric identification, according to the research. Three in four (75%) passengers want to use biometric data instead of passports and boarding passes. Over a third have already experienced using biometric identification in their travels, with an 88% satisfaction rate. But data protection remains a concern for about half of travellers.

Cooperation required across value chain and with governments to deliver customer wishes

Travellers clearly see technology as key to improving the convenience of airport processes. The GPS feedback shows they want to arrive at the airport ready-to-fly, get through the airport at both ends of their journey more quickly using biometrics and know where their baggage is at all times.

The technology exists to support this ideal experience, but Mr Careen warns that there is a need for “cooperation across the value chain and with governments” to make it happen. “And we need to continuously reassure passengers that the data needed to support such an experience will be safely kept,” he adds.