According to IATA’s 2022 Global Passenger Survey (GPS), simplification and convenience are the top concerns in travelers’ minds since the Covid-19 pandemic.
The organization found that passengers want convenience when they plan their travel and when choosing where to depart from. Proximity to the airport was passengers’ main priority when choosing where to fly from (75%). This was more important than ticket price (39%). Travelers were satisfied with being able to pay with their preferred payment method which was available for 82% of travelers. Having access to planning and booking information in one single place was identified as being a top priority. Additionally, 18% of passengers said that they offset their carbon emissions, the main reason given by those that did not was that they were not aware of the option (36%).
The research also found that most travelers are willing to share their immigration information for more convenient processing. According to the survey, 37% of travelers said they have been discouraged from traveling to a particular destination because of the immigration requirements. Process complexity was highlighted as the main deterrent by 65% of travelers, 12% cited costs and 8% time. Where visas are required, 66% of travelers want to obtain a visa online prior to travel, 20% prefer to go to the consulate or embassy and 14% at the airport. Alongside this, 83% of travelers said they would share their immigration information to speed up the airport arrival process. While this is high, it is slightly down from the 88% recorded in 2021.
Nick Careen, senior vice president for operations, safety and security at IATA, said, “Travelers have told us that barriers to travel remain. Countries with complex visa procedures are losing the economic benefits that these travelers bring. Where countries have removed visa requirements, tourism and travel economies have thrived. And for countries requiring certain categories of travelers to get visas, taking advantage of traveler willingness to use online processes and share information in advance would be a win-win solution.”
Finally, passengers were reportedly willing to take advantage of technology and re-imagined processes to improve the convenience of their airport experience and manage their baggage. In particular, 44% of travelers identified check-in as their top pick for off-airport processing. Immigration procedures were the second most popular ‘top pick’ at 32%, followed by baggage. Furthermore, 93% of passengers are interested in a special program for trusted travelers (background checks) to expedite security screening. Surveyed passengers were also interested in more options for baggage handling – 67% stated that they would be interested in home pick-up and delivery and 73% in remote check-in options. Moreover, 80% of passengers said that would be more likely to check a bag if they could monitor it throughout the journey, and 50% said that they have used or would be interested in using an electronic bag tag.
The survey also found that passengers see value in biometric identification, with 75% of passengers wanting to use biometric data instead of passports and boarding passes. Over a third have already experienced using biometric identification in their travels, with an 88% satisfaction rate. However, data protection remained a concern for about half of travelers.
Careen continued, “Travel during Covid-19 was complex, cumbersome and time-consuming due to government-imposed travel requirements. Post-pandemic, passengers want improved convenience throughout their trip. Digitalization and use of biometrics to speed up the travel journey is the key. Passengers clearly see technology as key to improving the convenience of airport processes. They want to arrive at the airport ready to fly, get through the airport at both ends of their journey more quickly using biometrics, and know where their baggage is at all times. The technology exists to support this ideal experience. But we need cooperation across the value chain and with governments to make it happen. And we need to continuously reassure passengers that the data needed to support such an experience will be safely kept.”
Muhammad Albakri, senior vice president of financial settlement and distribution services at IATA, said, “Today’s travelers expect the same online experience as they get from major retailers like Amazon. Airline retailing is driving the response to these needs. It enables airlines to present their full offer to travelers. And that puts the passenger in control of their travel experience with the ability to choose the travel options that they want with convenient payment options.”