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Here's How Passengers Say Airlines Can Improve the Travel Experience

Oct. 26, 2017
4 min read
IATA GPS traveler
Here's How Passengers Say Airlines Can Improve the Travel Experience
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What bugs you about traveling? How are airlines messing up the baggage process? Do you prefer built-in IFE or do you BYOD — Bring Your Own Device? Want to use your fingerprint as your boarding pass? These are just a few of the topics addressed in the International Air Transport Association (IATA) 2017 Global Passenger Survey.

This wide-reaching survey collected 10,675 responses from passengers hailing from more than 152 countries across the world. The results were unveiled this week at the IATA World Passenger Symposium (WPS) in Barcelona.

The biggest priorities included more automation throughout airport processes, simplifying identification by introducing biometrics, airlines keeping passengers up-to-date with real-time information sent directly to personal devices and introducing more efficient security and easier border controls.

Here are some of the most fascinating and noteworthy stats:

82% of travelers want a digital passport

Survey respondents overwhelmingly said yes to the idea of using a digital passport on their smartphones to make their travel experience easier. Once you verify your identity, you'd be able to use this digital identity to auto-fill your information when booking flights, confirm your identity at security and even pass through border control just using your smartphone.

64% want biometric identification

IATA GPS Biometric

Digital passports would eliminate the need for a physical ID, moving it onto your phone. But, what if you didn't even need your phone to pass through the airport? 64% of survey respondents said they would want to use biometric data as the single item to get them through the airport experience.

IATA is working on a biometric solution called One ID. IATA's Senior Vice President for Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security Nick Careen explains:

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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 towards 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.

50% want to track their bag at all times

Half of respondents said that they want to have real-time information about their checked baggage. US carriers seem to be leading the globe in baggage tracking, with Delta and American at the forefront. Soon, airlines won't have the option of whether or not to track bags, at least internally. A recent IATA resolution is requiring bag tracking at critical handing points by June 2018.

Bag tracking is just one part of an overall trend in the survey about the amount of real-time information passengers want. 63% of respondents say they want more real-time info. 85% of passengers want flight status updates, 51% want to know security wait times and 58% want to know wait times at arrival customs.

72% want the option to self-board

Ticking up slightly from the 2016 results, 72% of respondents said they'd prefer to use self-boarding gates rather than using a gate agent-controlled boarding process.

68% want to self-tag their bags

Focusing on baggage, 68% want to be in control of the bag tagging process, utilizing options like Alaska's at-home bag tag process or kiosks at the airport. Whether airlines like it or not, self-tagging is the future. Star Alliance airlines are working to make it the new standard across its airlines.

Once you have the bag tagged, just under half of those surveyed said they prefer self-bag drop options.

IATA GPS Self bag drop

42% want to BYOD for IFE

When given the choice between having an in-flight entertainment screen and streaming content to passenger devices, 42% would prefer a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) system vs. 45% preferring the in-seat screen.

What's Important to Passengers

IATA GPS Satisfaction Drivers

The survey also quizzed respondents on how airlines are doing across various aspects of the travel experience and how important these aspects are to the traveler. On-board service was found to be the most influential aspect of overall satisfaction, and travelers are only barely satisfied with the current state of affairs.

Passengers are generally pleased with online booking and online check-in processes. But, this seems to be merely expected at this point, not making a significant impact on overall satisfaction. In this global survey, in-flight entertainment was the aspect airlines were judged to be the worst at.

Were you surprised by any of these responses?