STUDY: Pax show increased satisfaction with airport ‘experience’

Happiness levels are highest in Asia, perhaps as a reflection of the fact that the region’s airports tend to be newer

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Airport Dimensions has published the first findings from its latest Airport Experience Research – The Transforming Airport Revenue Landscape. The research highlights changing traveler expectations for their airport experience as well as providing a blueprint for the new airport revenue landscape.

Following the difficulties caused by the return to travel across the globe in 2021/22, the research reveals a positive step in the right direction with 71% of passengers reporting that they enjoyed their time at the airport – an increase compared to the year prior.

The research did however also highlight geographical differences in satisfaction. Happiness levels are highest in Asia, perhaps as a reflection of the fact that the region’s airports tend to be newer – compared to aging infrastructures across Europe – as well as a more upbeat attitude to travel. In China, 92% of passengers reported that they enjoyed their time at the airport while the same was said by 85% of passengers in Indonesia and Hong Kong and 83% in India and Singapore. Conversely, in Europe just 56% of airport passengers in Germany and 50% in the UK reported a positive experience.

Continuing a key trend found in Airport Dimensions’ 2021/22 survey, this latest research identified that satisfaction continues to dip in the middle section of the journey through the airport. While satisfaction with the landside part of the journey comes in comfortably at 73%, with check-in and baggage drop at 79%, and security checks and queues at 74%, satisfaction drops to 67% when travelers were asked about offerings in the departures areas. The research revealed that an impressive 73% of passengers are satisfied with both the level of comfort offered in the seating areas as well as the range and quality of retail and dining. However, 12% reported active dissatisfaction with departures facilities. What’s more, 21% said they were unhappy with the value for money for retail and dining on offer in departures, as well as 11% reporting discontent with the speed and reliability of the airport’s Wi-Fi. At this key point in the airport journey when travelers have the greatest ability and desire to spend, airports are missing a prime opportunity to drive non-aeronautical revenue.

Inextricable to satisfaction with their overall experience is the changed way in which passengers spend their time, especially as they now spend longer at the airport. A substantial 71% of passengers usually eat at the airport, spending around 17% of their time in restaurants and bars. Meanwhile, more than two thirds (69%) spend an average of 13 minutes of their time shopping for their retail favourites, with the same number of passengers (69%) at the airport surfing the internet. These activities either actively generate revenue for the airport, or have the potential to do so. Accounting for over a third (35%) of passengers’ time spent at the airport, a failure to take advantage of this opportunity by engaging customers would, according to Airport Dimensions, be a mistake.  

The significance of generational differences and how they interact with the airport should not be underestimated. For example, millennials spend an average of 13% of their time at the airport shopping where elders only spend 8% doing so. It’s no surprise that younger generations go online more often while at the airport. With Gen Z and millennials averaging 14% of their time online or gaming in comparison to boomers who spend only 9% of their time online and 5% for elders, the difference is notable.

Mignon Buckingham, CEO of Airport Dimensions, said; “Our Airport Experience research offers essential insights for airports that will inform decisions about what the future of their spaces and revenue landscapes should look like. A new generation of traveler wants, and indeed expects different, more innovative, and unique offerings at the airport. They are open to engaging with a wide range of offerings – from gaming to sleep options – if made easily accessible, and appealing. Airports must understand this if they are to make meaningful changes as they reinvent themselves for the traveler of the future.”

The Airport Dimensions Changing Airport Experience survey was conducted in partnership with market research agency Dynata. The research draws from the experiences of more than 8,500 air travelers covering a wide and representative cross-section of demographics.


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Editor Matt Driskill at matt.driskill@asianaviation.com
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