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Passengers increasingly embracing self-service options

written by australianaviation.com.au | October 19, 2016

Virgin Australia's new home at Perth Airport's T1 Domestic Pier features self-service and staff-assisted checkin. (Jordan Chong)
Virgin Australia’s new home at Perth Airport’s T1 Domestic Pier features self-service and staff-assisted checkin. (Jordan Chong)

More than seven in 10 air travellers now board their flight with a mobile boarding pass as the trend towards self-service checkin and off-site passenger facilitation grows, new figures show.

The International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) 2016 global passenger survey found travellers today were willing to take advantage of advances in technology to do more traditional airport processes before they turn up at the airport.

The survey showed 71 per cent of passengers checked-in online and used a mobile boarding pass rather than a printed one. The figure was up two percentage points from 2015.

“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,” IATA senior vice president for airport, passenger, cargo and security Nick Careen said in a statement.

“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.”

As far as what they didn’t like about air travel, the IATA survey highlighted airport security and border control as the “two biggest pain points when travelling”.

“The top frustrations were the wide variation in security screening procedures at different airports and the intrusiveness of having to remove personal items,” IATA said.

“A majority of passengers only want to pass through security and border control once during their journey.”

In terms of baggage handling, 61 per cent of respondents said they would be interested in tracking their bags throughout the journey, while 33 per cent of those surveyed wanted to be able to self-tag their checkin luggage and 39 per cent were in favour of electronic bag tags.

To make travelling to the airport less stressful, 26 per cent advocated having their luggage picked up from home and delivered to the airport, while 24 per cent said they wanted to drop off their checkin bags away from the airport.

And once they are on board, 51 per cent of flyers said they wanted to use their own devices to access entertainment options.

Meanwhile, IATA said global passenger traffic was expected to grow to 7.2 billion in 2035, from about 3.8 billion forecast to travel in 2016.

The bulk of that expansion was tipped to come on routes to, from and within the Asia Pacific region, which were expected to grow on average 4.7 per year over the next 20 years to 3.1 million passengers.

IATA said China would overtake the United States as the world’s largest aviation market, with 817 million new passengers tipped to take flight between now and 2035, resulting in a total market size of 1.3 per cent.

And India was tipped to jump to third place, pushing the United Kingdom down into third place.

However, IATA cautioned that the rise in protectionism in recent times may threaten the growth in aviation and deny nations the benefits of increased air links in an increasingly connected world.

“Economic growth is the only durable solution for the world’s current economic woes,” IATA chief executive and director-general Alexandre de Juniac said in a statement.

“Yet we see governments raising barriers to trade rather than making it easier. If this continues in the long-term, it will mean slower growth and the world will be poorer for it.”

de Juniac also expressed fears infrastructure constraints may also act as a handbrake on growth.

“There is no getting around the need to be both smart and quick in growing airport and airspace capacity,” de Juniac told the World Passenger Symposium in Dubai in prepared remarks.

“I fear that we may be headed for an infrastructure crisis that will impact air travelers.

“Inadequate infrastructure negatively impacts the passenger experience in the form of flight delays, longer routes and inefficient schedules. Then there is the cost to economies of lost business opportunities, employment and social development. Remember aviation is a critical catalyst for economic and social development, supporting 63 million jobs and some $2.7 trillion in economic impact.”

The IATA global passenger survey was conducted by PwC and comprised responses from 6,920 passengers from some 145 countries.

The association has about 260 member airlines and represents roughly 83 per cent of global air traffic

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