Airline passengers want more control over their journey and are looking for more self-service and mobile-based offerings to reduce stress during travel.
SITA/Air Transport World Passenger Self-Service survey says 70% of passengers now carry smartphones, which is fueling the demand for services such as self-boarding and flight information updates on their mobiles.
Self-service continues to be increasingly popular with passengers, with almost two thirds using a self-service channel to check-in on the day of the survey, up from just over half last year.
Close to 90% of passengers also rated flight status updates on their mobiles and self-boarding as their top self-service technologies.
“What passengers really want is to avoid delays and to be kept informed of what is happening," says Francesco Violante, CEO, SITA.
"Nearly everyone surveyed said they would welcome any queue-busting services and 89% voted self-boarding as their top technology.
"It is very clear from our IT Trends Surveys earlier this year that airports and airlines are working in the same direction, so we expect to see significant growth in technologies aimed at reducing waiting times.
“The number of passengers with smartphones has risen dramatically over the past year from 54% to 70%.
"We are already seeing the impact at airports with mobile check-in increasing by one third during this period and as many as 21% of passengers have now used a mobile boarding pass.
"We’re now at the tipping point of explosive growth in mobile services offered to passengers, which will give them more control over their journey and reduce stress.”
The findings were generated from a sample of the 280 million passengers who pass through six of the world's leading airport hubs: Abu Dhabi International; Beijing Capital International; Frankfurt International; Hartsfield-Jackson, Atlanta; Chhatrapati Shivaji International, Mumbai; and Guarulhos International, Sao Paulo.
As passengers become used to the services currently on offer, SITA says they want more.
An example would be the popularity of the self-service check-in as passengers show a willingness to do it themselves, with 68% picking automated bag drop as one of their top self-service offerings.
This year, websites hold the position as the most frequently used platform for check-in with 79% using them regularly or occasionally.
Kiosk usage also increased further, with 77% of passengers using them for check-in reinforcing the fact that passengers want multi-channel self-service.
The survey confirms another trend showing that the majority of travelers are active on social media; 62% of passengers use social media, which is a higher penetration rate than recorded for the general population.
The findings also suggest, perhaps unsurprisingly, that social media usage among travelers differs significantly by age with 80% of younger travelers (aged 18-24) active on social media, compared to 39% of the over-55s.
Although passengers expressed interest in using social media for travel-related activities, it is generally lower than for other channels such as mobile.
Only 65% of passengers said they would use flight status updates if offered via social media, while 89% of passengers will use them when offered on mobiles.
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