LONDON – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced the results of its 2022 Global Passenger Survey (GPS), showing that travellers top concerns for air travel in the post-COVID crisis period are focused around simplification and convenience.
“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,” said Nick Careen, IATA’s Senior Vice President for Operations, Safety and Security.
Convenient planning and booking
Passengers say they want convenience when they plan their travel and when choosing where to depart from. Their preference is to fly from an airport close to home, have all booking options and services available in one single place, pay with their preferred payment method and easily offset their carbon emissions.
- Proximity to the airport was passengers’ main priority when choosing where to fly from (75%). This was more important than ticket price (39%).
- Travellers were satisfied being able to pay with their preferred payment method which was available for 82% of travellers. Having access to planning and booking information in one single place was identified as being top priority.
- 18% of passengers said that they offset their carbon emissions, the main reason given by those that did not was not being aware of the option (36%).
“Today’s travellers 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 travellers.”
“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,” said Muhammad Albakri, IATA Senior Vice President Financial Settlement and Distribution Services.
According to the IATA study, most air travellers indicated they were willing to share their immigration information in return for more convenient processing.
- 37% of travellers said they have been discouraged from travelling to a particular destination because of the immigration requirements. Process complexity was highlighted as the main deterrent by 65% of travellers, 12% cited costs and 8% time.
- Where visas are required, 66% of travellers want to obtain a visa online prior to travel, 20% prefer to go to the consulate or embassy and 14% at the airport.
- 83% of travellers 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.
“Travelers have told us that barriers to travel remain. Countries with complex visa procedures are losing the economic benefits that these travellers bring.”
“ Where countries have removed visa requirements, tourism and travel economies have thrived. And for countries requiring certain categories of travellers to get visas, taking advantage of traveller willingness to use online processes and share information in advance would be a win-win solution,” said Careen.
Streamlined airport processes
The IATA air travel study shows that passengers are most willing to take advantage of technology and processes which improve the convenience of their airport experience and manage their baggage.
- Passengers are willing to complete processing elements off-airport. 44% of travellers 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. And 93% of passengers are interested in a special program for trusted travellers (background checks) to expedite security screening.
- Passengers are interested in more options for baggage handling. 67% would be interested in home pick-up and delivery and 73% in remote check-in options. 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.
- Passengers see value in biometric identification. 75% of passengers want 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. But data protection remains a concern for about half of travellers.
“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,” said Careen.
Perhaps there is something of a silver lining to the chaos of the global pandemic period. The travel hiatus and the subsequent resurgence in travel demand, coupled with airlines and airports frantic struggle to cope with the growth after a long payoff period has laid bare some underlying factors.
It certainly has given an insight into the factors which travellers hold most important.