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Travelers like technology that makes flying easier, study says

| Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018, 12:00 p.m.
A study by the International Air Transport Association says that airline passengers like technology that makes flying more efficient. Here, travelers at Pittsburgh International Airport queue at the American Airlines counter in 2014.
Keith Hodan | Trib Total Media
A study by the International Air Transport Association says that airline passengers like technology that makes flying more efficient. Here, travelers at Pittsburgh International Airport queue at the American Airlines counter in 2014.

Airline passengers around the world are looking to new technology to give them more control and information when traveling, while also making the entire experience more efficient.

These insights were revealed as part of the 2018 Global Passenger Survey conducted by the International Air Transport Association, or IATA. The study is based on 10,408 responses from 145 countries.

According to the IATA report, passengers want the following when they are traveling:

• Real-time journey information delivered to their personal devices

• Biometric identification to facilitate their travel processes

• Automation of more airport processes

• Wait times of less than 10 minutes at security/immigration

• Bags tracked throughout their journey

• A human touch when things go wrong

• Real-time journey information

In addition, passengers said they want to be kept informed throughout their journey, preferably via their personal device. After booking the ticket, receiving information about flight status (82 percent), updates about baggage (49 percent) and notifications about waiting times at security and immigration checkpoints (46 percent) are the top three priorities among travelers.

In fact, real-time baggage tracking throughout the journey was seen as a must for 56 percent of passengers, according to IATA.

Meeting passenger demands

Airlines and airports are meeting this demand by implementing tracking at major journey points such as loading and unloading. The industry is also working on developing a global readiness plan for the proposed introduction of RFID (radio-frequency identification) inlays in all baggage tags manufactured after January 2020 in order to meet passenger expectations, IATA said.

Passengers’ preferred option for receiving information on their baggage and other travel elements was via their mobile device. Receiving information via SMS or Smartphone app was preferred by 73 percent of passengers.

Since 201,6 there has been a 10-percent increase in passengers preferring to receive travel information via a smartphone app, said IATA.

The new IATA report also revealed that the majority of passengers (65 percent) are willing to share personal data for expedited security and 45 percent are willing to replace their passports with biometric identification.

IATA said the goal of its One ID project is to move passengers from curb to gate using a single biometric travel token (fingerprint, face or iris). But concerns over data protection must be addressed.

“As we move more and more toward digital processes, passengers need to be confident that their personal data is safe. IATA is working to establish a trust framework that ensures secure data sharing, legal compliance, and privacy,” said Nick Careen, IATA’s senior vice president for Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security.

The human touch

Even with all the new possibilities presented by technology, the human touch remains important to some market segments and in certain situations.

For example, senior travelers (65 years and older) have a strong preference for traditional check-in (25 percent) and bag-drop processes (42 percent). And when there are travel disruptions, 40 percent of all age groups of passengers want to resolve the situation over the phone and 37 percent prefer a face-to-face interaction.

As for how passengers want to book their travel, 43 percent of respondents said they prefer using a travel agency, travel management company or corporate travel department to book their flights.

Finally, there remain plenty of what IATA called passenger pain points. Among them, airport security/border control and the boarding processes are the two biggest frustrations for travelers.

Fliers are also not too happy about the intrusiveness of having to remove personal items at security checkpoints (57 percent) or laptops and other large electronic devices from cabin bags (48 percent). Yet another pet peeve of travelers everywhere is the lack of consistency in screening procedures at different airports (41 percent).

To improve the boarding experience, the top three desires of passengers are more efficient queuing at boarding gates (64 percent), the availability of overhead space on the aircraft (42 percent) and not having to queue on the air bridge (33 percent).

Mia Taylor is a writer for TravelPulse.

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