The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced the results of its 2019 Global Passenger Survey showing that passengers are looking to technology to improve their travel experience.
The survey acts as the voice of the passenger, providing objective and in-depth insights into the preferences and behaviours of air travellers around the world, helping to guide industry initiatives.
The focus of the survey was on processes and technology in the travel experience, not airline or airport service levels.
Top passenger priorities identified include having more personal control over their journey via their smart phone, being able to use biometric identification to speed up travel processes and to be able to track their baggage.
Other priorities are maximum wait times of 10 minutes for baggage collection and immigration / customs and access to Wi-Fi on board at 34,000ft
Passengers want to use their personal device to control more aspects of their travel journey from booking to arrival.
An airline app was the preferred method of booking for passengers from one of the world’s largest aviation markets, with 24 per cent of travellers from North Asia preferring this method.
It was also the second most popular choice among passengers in the Middle East, favoured by 14 per cent of travellers.
Booking through an airline website, although less popular than in 2018, remains the method of choice for most travellers globally (39 per cent).
Using a smartphone was also identified by more than half of passengers (51 per cent) as their preferred method of check-in. This was a 4 per cent increase over 2018.
Most passengers (72 per cent) also wanted to be kept informed throughout their journey via travel notifications sent to their personal device.
SMS remains the preferred notification option for 39 per cent of passengers, but this trend has been decreasing since 2016.
Conversely, preference for receiving information via a smartphone app has increased by 10 per cent since 2016 and is now the method of choice for one third of passengers.
The survey found that 83 per cent of passengers want to receive information on the status of their flight and 45 per cent would like information on their baggage.
Passengers also asking for information to help them plan their passage through the airport with 45 per cent wanting to know wait times at security and border control and 37 per cent wanting to know wait times at customs.
Biometric technology to speed up airport processes
The survey found that 70 per cent of passengers are willing to share additional personal information including their biometric identifiers to speed up processes at the airport.
This increases in correlation with the number of flights taken per year. The highest support for this (76 per cent) is among fliers who travel for business, more than 10 times per year.
In addition, 46 per cent of passengers would prefer to use biometric identification instead of a paper passport for their journey and 30 per cent would opt to use a biometric token to board the plane.
“Passengers are willing to share more personal information if it removes hassle from their travel experience,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and chief executive officer.
“But it’s clear that concerns over data privacy remain. While the majority of passengers want to use biometric identification instead of a paper passport, 53 per cent of those that did not, said they were concerned about the security of their data. Passengers need to be confident that their data is safe.”
High demand for baggage tracking
Over half of passengers (53 per cent) said that they would be more likely to check their bag if they were able to track it throughout the journey.
And 46 per cent said that they want to be able to track their bag and have it delivered directly to an off-airport location, if that service were available.
Airlines and airports are working together to improve baggage information reliability by tracking baggage at major touch points such as loading and unloading (the implementation of IATA Resolution 753).