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What Flyers Want To Improve In Their International Air Travel Experience

by Amitabh Joshi 1 year ago Views 1338

air travel
Air travel for Indians, especially overseas, is no longer the domain of the select few for whom we once waited eagerly to return to get our hands on the jewel-like Toblerone chocolates. 

According to the UN World Tourism Organisation, India will account for 50 million outbound tourists by 2020 and that’s up from the 23 million who travelled overseas in 2017. Moreover, India’s domestic air passenger market registered an 8.9 per cent growth in July this year, compared to the same month last year. Now that we are seasoned ‘airfarers’, what exactly are we looking for in terms of improving our travelling experience?


The International Air Transport Association (IATA) in its latest Global Passenger Survey shows that primarily “passengers are looking to technology to improve their travel experience”.

This means having more personal control over their journey via their smart phone and being able to use biometric identification to speed up travel processes which includes being able to track their baggage.

Importantly, and as many of  us will attest to, often weary passengers want a maximum wait time of 10 minutes for baggage collection and immigration and customs clearance. Access to Wi-Fi on board at 34,000ft is also on the wish list.

“The focus of the survey was on processes and technology in the travel experience, not airline or airport service levels”, IATA stated. 

In the area of journey control, passengers want to use their personal device to control more aspects of their travel journey from booking to arrival.  

“An airline app was the preferred method of booking for passengers from one of the world's largest aviation markets, with 24% of travellers from North Asia preferring this method. It was also the second most popular choice among passengers in the Middle East, favoured by 14% of travellers. Booking through an airline website, although less popular than in 2018, remains the method of choice for most travellers globally (39%)”, the survey revealed.

Using a smartphone was also identified by more than half of passengers (51%) as their preferred method of check-in. This was a 4% increase over 2018.

Most passengers (72%) also wanted to be kept informed throughout their journey via travel notifications sent to their personal device. SMS remains the preferred notification option for 39% of passengers, but this trend has been decreasing since 2016. Conversely, preference for receiving information via a smartphone app has increased by 10% since 2016 and is now the method of choice for one third of passengers.

The survey found that 83% of passengers want to receive information on the status of their flight and 45% would like information on their baggage. Passengers also asking for information to help them plan their passage through the airport with 45% wanting to know wait times at security and border control and 37% wanting to know wait times at customs.

In the area of biometric technology, the survey found that 70% of passengers are willing to share additional personal information including their biometric identifiers to speed up processes at the airport. This increases in correlation with the number of flights taken per year. The highest support for this (76%) is among fliers who travel for business, more than 10 times per year.

"Passengers are willing to share more personal information if it removes hassle from their travel experience. But it's clear that concerns over data privacy remain. While the majority of passengers want to use biometric identification instead of a paper passport, 53% of those that did not, said they were concerned about the security of their data. Passengers need to be confident that their data is safe," said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA's Director General and CEO.

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