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More than 80% of travelers want digital passports for smartphones

Modern-day passengers are looking to incorporate digital technologies into every step of their journey, with 82% willing to use a digital passport on their smartphone for as many travel activities as possible, from booking flights to passing through the airport.

The findings are from the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) 2017 Global Passenger Survey (GPS), which revealed that passengers expect technology to give them more personal control over their travel experience. Based on 10,675 responses from around the globe, the survey provided insight into what passengers want from their air travel experience.

Top priorities on the list included automation of more airport processes; a single identity token for all travel processes using biometric identification; real-time information sent directly to personal devices; more efficient security – without having to remove or unpack personal items; and more seamless border control.

Nick Careen, senior vice president for airport, passenger, cargo and security, IATA, said, “Passengers want to use one single biometric identity token for all their travel transactions from booking flights to passing security and border control and picking up their bags.

“IATA’s One ID project is rapidly moving travel toward a day when a face, iris, or fingerprint will provide the key to a seamless travel experience. The technology exists. Its use in aviation needs to be accelerated. Governments need to take the lead by working with industry to establish a trusted framework and agreeing the global standards and security protocols needed to use the technology. One ID will not only make process more efficient for passengers but allow governments to utilize valuable resources more effectively.”

The survey also found that passengers want to be able to do more of the airport processes themselves by taking advantage of the latest digital self-service options. Baggage was the top activity that passengers wanted more control over. The GPS found that 68% of those surveyed want to self-tag their bags with electronic bag-tags being the preferred option. In addition, 48% of passengers wanted to self-drop their bag.

It was also discovered that the number of passengers using automated immigration gates and kiosks increased by 6% in 2017, reaching 58% with a satisfaction rate of 90%. Boarding the aircraft was another area in which passengers wanted to have more control with 72% of passengers preferring to self-board, an increase of 2% over 2016.

Pierre Charbonneau, director passenger and facilitation, IATA, said, “Passengers have never been as empowered as they are today. Self-service solutions range from mobile check-in and bag drop, to self-boarding and automated border control.

“Smartphone- and tablet-toting passengers want to use these mobile devices to control their travel experience. They expect easy access to the information they want, exactly when they need it in the travel process. Airlines and airports that make the most use of technological innovations will be giving a better travel experience to their customers.”

Well-informed passengers
Passengers want airlines and airports to keep them informed throughout their journey. The survey found that 85% of passengers want to be able to check the status of their flight and 50% want to track their bag throughout the trip. Passengers also wanted more information to help then plan their passage through the airport with 51% wanting to know wait times at security and border control and 58% wanting to know wait times at arrival customs, a 17% increase on 2016.

Providing more real-time information was also identified by 63% of passengers as the key to improving their experience during travel disruptions. SMS messaging remains the preferred option for receiving travel notifications. However, this trend is reversing with 28% of passenger preferring communication through smartphone apps and 26% through email.

“Passengers expect to get up-to-date information on all aspects of their journey with minimum effort, through their preferred channel,” added said Charbonneau.

“Offering this level of personalization is reliant on capturing, managing and understanding passenger data. But no single member of the travel ecosystem has the capability to optimize the end-to-end journey on their own.

“A global coordination framework is needed on how passenger data is shared, controlled and protected. The IATA personalization program aims to provide customers with trusted, accurate real-time information from all travel service providers throughout their journey.”

Travel pains
Passengers once again identified airport security and border control processes as two of their biggest pain points when traveling. The top frustrations were the intrusiveness of having to remove personal items (60%), the inconvenience of having to unpack electronic devices in carry-on bags (52%) and the variation in security screening procedures at different airports (47%).

To gain access to the full GPS 2017 report and highlights, click here

Written by Daniel Symonds

October 25, 2017





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