The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced the results of its 2022 Global Passenger Survey (GPS). The results are based on over 10,000 responses from 222 countries and provide insights into what passengers are looking for from their air travel experiences.
This year’s results showed that after the pandemic, travellers are focused on making their journeys as easy as possible.
“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.
Planning and booking travel preferences
From the very first stage of the organising a trip, customers want convenience. Whether that’s choosing where to depart from, how to make their payments or how to offset carbon emissions, the survey revealed ease is key.
Proximity to the airport was passengers’ main priority when choosing where to fly from (75 per cent); it was even more important than ticket price (39 per cent).
Travellers were satisfied with being able to pay with their preferred payment method, which was available for 82 per cent of customers. However, having access to planning and booking information in one place was identified as the most important aspect of trip organisation.
Eighteen per cent of passengers said they offset their carbon emissions, with the main reason for others not doing it was because they were unaware of the option (36 per cent).
“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.
Travel facilitation means data sharing
IATA’s survey showed that most travellers are willing to share their immigration and visa information to make processing easier.
Thirty-seven per cent of travellers said they have been discouraged from travelling to certain destinations because of the immigration requirements. The complexity of the process was the main deterrent for 65 per cent of travellers, while 12 per cent said it was because of costs, and eight per cent because of the time it takes.
The majority of passengers (83 per cent) said they would share their immigration information to speed up the airport arrivals process. This figure is down from the 88 per cent recorded in 2021.
In terms of visas, 66 per cent of travellers would like to obtain a visa online before travelling, 20 per cent prefer to go to the consulate or embassy, and 14 per cent the airport.
“Travellers 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.
Airport processes rely on technology
Passengers are willing to use new technologies and processes to make their airport experience more convenient, even before they arrive for their flight.
Forty-four per cent of travellers identified check in as their highest priority for off-airport processing. Immigration procedures were the second more popular with 32 per cent, then baggage. Also, 93 per cent of passengers are interested in a special scheme for trusted travellers – who have completed background checks – to expedite security screening.
In terms of baggage handling, 67 per cent would be interested in home pick up and delivery, and 73 per cent would like remote check-in options. Eighty per cent of passengers also said they were more likely to check a bag if they could monitor it throughout the journey and 50 per cent said they have or would use an electronic bag tag.
Seventy-five per cent of passengers said they want to use biometric data instead of passports and boarding passes when they travel. Over a third have already used this technology before, with it gaining an 88 per cent satisfaction rate. However, data protection is still a concern for approximately 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.
Understanding customer preferences is key when passenger levels are getting ever closer to pre-pandemic levels.