The International Air Transport Association (IATA) recently announced the results of its 2022 Global Passenger Survey (GPS), showing that travelers top concerns for travel in the post-COVID crisis period are focused on 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. Digitalisation 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.
Passengers 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%).
- Travelers were satisfied 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 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 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,” said Muhammad Albakri, IATA senior vice president Financial Settlement and Distribution Services.
Most travelers are willing to share their immigration information for more convenient processing.
- 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.
- 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.
“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,” said Careen.
Passengers are willing to take advantage of technology and re-thought processes to improve the convenience of their airport experience and manage their baggage.
- Passengers are willing to complete processing elements off-airport. 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. And 93% of passengers are interested in a special program for trusted travelers (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 travelers.
“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.
The industry is ready to power airport processes with biometrics through IATA’s One ID initiative. COVID-19 has helped governments understand the potential for passengers to share their travel information with them directly and in advance of travel and the power of biometric processes to improve security and facilitations processes and more efficiently use scarce resources. The proliferation of e-gates at airports is proving the efficiencies that can be gained. The priority is to support the OneID standards with regulation to allow its use to create a seamless experience across all parts of the passenger journey.