The Top Priorities of Airline Passengers

Airline passengers are putting their hopes behind technology when it comes to improving the travel experience over the coming years.

The 2019 Global Passenger Survey, just released by the International Air Transport Association, IATA, showed that not only do flyers want to have more personal control over their journey via their smartphone, but they also want to be able to do such things as track their baggage more effectively and get through screening points more quickly.

Additional traveler priorities highlighted by the IATA study include:

-Being able to use biometric identification to speed up travel processes

-Wanting a maximum wait time of 10 minutes for baggage collection and immigration/customs

-Access to Wi-Fi onboard at 34,000 feet

Passengers also want more control throughout the journey, according to the IATA study. This includes passengers wanting to use their personal devices to control more aspects of the experience – from booking to arrival.

Airline apps are apparently the preferred method of booking, particularly in North Asia, where 24 percent of travelers said they favor this method, according to the study. Booking via an app was the second most popular choice among passengers in the Middle East, chosen by 14 percent of travelers.

Booking through an airline website, although less popular than in 2018, remains the method of choice for most travelers globally (39 percent).

When it comes to check-in, using a smartphone was also identified by more than half of passengers (51 percent) as their preferred option. That figure represents a four percent increase over 2018 study results.

Most passengers (72 percent) also say they want to be kept informed throughout their journey via travel notifications sent to their personal device. SMS remains the top notification option for 39 percent of passengers, but this trend has been decreasing since 2016, the study found.

Conversely, preference for receiving information via a smartphone app has increased by 10 percent since 2016 and is now the method of choice for one-third of passengers, the IATA study revealed. The survey found that 83 percent of passengers want to receive information on the status of their flight and 45 percent would like information on their baggage.

Using biometric technology to speed up airport processes is another top priority for airline passengers around the globe.

The IATA survey found that 70 percent of passengers are willing to share additional personal information including their biometric identifiers to speed up processes at the airport. The highest support for this (76 percent) is found among fliers who travel for business more than 10 times per year.

In addition, 46 percent of passengers would prefer to use biometric identification instead of a paper passport for their journey and 30 percent would opt to use a biometric token to board the plane.

“Passengers are willing to share more personal information if it removes the hassle from their travel experience. 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 percent 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,” Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO, said in a statement.

Yet another big issue for the flying public is baggage tracking, according to the study.

More than half of passengers (53 percent) said that they would be more likely to check their bag if they were able to track it throughout the journey, while 46 percent 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 touchpoints such as loading and unloading, said IATA.

Finally, in a not entirely shocking revelation, time is of the essence for passengers. The new survey indicated that 80 percent of passengers want to wait no longer than three minutes to drop off a bag. This increased to 10 minutes for queuing at immigration/customs for 79 percent of travelers.

Meanwhile, a mere two percent of passengers would accept a waiting time longer than 20 minutes.

About 74 percent of passengers say they want to wait no longer than 10 minutes for baggage delivery. And almost none wants to wait longer than 20 minutes (not shocking).

The survey also found that for nearly three quarters (74 percent) of passengers, speed was the main benefit of using automated immigration gates/kiosks. A similar number (72 percent) gave the overall experience of automated immigration processing a thumbs up.

The 2019 survey results were based on 10,877 responses from passengers across 166 countries. The full report can be viewed here.

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