The 2016 SITA Passenger IT Trends Survey, released at the SITA Air Transport IT Summit in Barcelona, shows that fliers prefer technology-delivered service rather than face-to-face service.
91 percent of the travelers who used technology for self service said they would use it again if given the chance. Other statistics clearly support this preference for the internet, mobile apps and automated airport kiosks. 92 percent of passengers surveyed did not book their flights through a person. 75 percent booked on a web site, 16 percent used a mobile application and one percent used an automated airport kiosk.
Even the check-in process is becoming more automated. 43 percent of those surveyed claimed that they regularly used off-site check-in options that are available via a mobile app or website.
Not only are more people using technology, but they are more satisfied when they are able to get what they want via the internet. The report explains that “the highest levels of satisfaction are attained in the early stages of the journey, such as flight booking and check-in, where personal technology usage is most prevalent.”
Satisfaction levels fall off when travelers have to resort to person-to-person interactions. Survey takers gave some of the lowest satisfaction scores of the airport experience to baggage check, baggage claim, security checkpoints, and immigration and customs areas.
New technology-based services are starting to creep into these areas of low satisfaction. For example, 17 percent of the travelers who were questioned said that they used self-service baggage check and tagging kiosks at airports.
What about the other “low satisfaction” areas? Automated passport scanners are becoming more common at U.S. immigration checkpoints. These kiosks can be used to scan passports and take pictures of arriving passengers. Though most still have to go through a checkpoint manned by an actual person, the kiosks cut down the amount of time that they have to spend there.
The report suggests that the preference for the internet and mobile apps is not about wanting to avoid face-to-face interactions. It is about the desire to have a greater degree of control. The points where face-to-face interaction is required are often the points where passengers have the least amount of control. The report explains,“these are points of the journey where technology currently plays a limited role and passengers have little control or choice.”
Though they still have to deal with some inconveniences, travelers are more satisfied overall now that they have a greater array of tech tools to give them more control over their travel experience. This year’s survey found that 85 percent of all the passengers who were questioned said that their last flight was a “positive” experience. In the 2015 survey, 80 percent said that their last trip was positive.