Passengers ready to embrace smart airport technologies

Air travellers are looking for technology to improve their travel experience, according to a new survey by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The 2016 Global Passenger Survey revealed that passengers want to be able to do more of the traditional airport processes before they arrive.

In 2016 the percentage of passengers checking-in online and using a mobile boarding pass rather than a printed one has increased to 71%, from 69% in 2015.

Many are also keen to see changes to the baggage process, with one third (33%) of the 6,920 people surveyed wanting to self-tag their bags and two in five (39%) wanting to use electronic bag tags.

Meanwhile, a quarter (26%) want their luggage picked up from home and delivered to the airport and another 24% want to be able to drop off their luggage away from the airport.

“Passengers want to arrive at the airport ready to fly by taking advantage of ‘off airport’ digital self-service options,” commented Pierre Charbonneau, IATA’s director of Passenger and Facilitation.

Six in ten travellers (61%) also expressed interest in tracking their bags throughout the journey.

IATA and air transport technology company SITA said recently that the global deployment of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, which can accurately track passengers’ baggage in real time across key points in the journey, could save the air transport industry more than $3bn (£2.4bn) over the next seven years and reduce the number of mishandled bags by up to 25%.

Two of the biggest ‘pain points’ identified by travellers in this year’s survey were airport security and border control processes.

The top frustrations were the wide variation in security screening procedures at different airports and the intrusiveness of having to remove personal items, IATA explained. A majority of passengers only want to pass through security and border control once during their journey.

New smart security technology can help make security and border control areas as safe, effective and hassle-free as possible for passengers, according to IATA.

Passengers also said that they want airlines and airports to offer them a more customised travel experience, and 85% are willing to provide more personal data to make this happen.

“Passengers want convenience and quick results with their bookings and check-in, a seamless and secure airport experience and uniquely tailored experiences throughout their journey,” said Nick Careen, IATA’s senior vice president for Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security. “They are ready to embrace the benefits of new technology when it comes to enhancing their travel experience. Airlines and airports that recognise this and provide passengers with easy-to-use mobile services, self-service options and one-stop security checks will improve the travel experience and passenger satisfaction.”

“What’s clear is that passengers want to spend less time queuing at airports – for check in, for baggage drop, for border control, for security. The result? Passengers will have more discretionary time at the airport, for example for leisure or shopping. We can expect to see smart technology deployed in order to monetize that extra time.” Adrian Lifely, Partner

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