Stats: 43% of Travelers Prefer Travel Agents for Air Bookings

Some 43 percent of passengers prefer to use a travel agency, travel management company or corporate travel department to book their flights. That’s from the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) newly released 2018 Global Passenger Survey (GPS), which showed that passengers are looking to new technology to give them more control, information and improve efficiency when they travel, but that the human touch remains important.

Based on 10,408 responses from 145 countries, the survey provides insight into what passengers would like from their air travel experience. Passengers said that they want:

  • Real time journey information delivered to their personal devices
  • Biometric identification to facilitate their travel processes
  • Automation of more airport processes
  • Wait times of less than 10 minutes at security / immigration
  • Their bags tracked throughout their journey
  • A human touch when things go wrong

Real Time Journey Information

Passengers want to be kept informed throughout their journey preferably via their personal device.

Receiving information on flight status (82%), baggage (49%) and waiting time at security / immigration (46%) were identified as passengers’ top three priorities after booking a flight.

Real-time baggage tracking throughout the journey was seen as a must for 56 percent of passengers. Airlines and airports are facilitating this by implementing tracking at major journey points such as loading and unloading (IATA Resolution 753). The industry is also working on developing a global readiness plan for the proposed introduction of RFID inlays in all baggage tags manufactured after January 2020 in order to meet passenger expectations for real time baggage tracking.

Passengers’ preferred option for receiving information on their baggage and other travel elements was via their mobile device. Receiving information via SMS or Smartphone app was preferred by 73 percent of passengers. Since 2016 there has been a 10 percent increase in passengers preferring to receive travel information via a smartphone app.

Digital Is Preferred but Privacy Concerns Increase

The majority of passengers (65%) are willing to share personal data for expedited security and 45 percent are willing to replace their passports with biometric identification.

IATA’s One ID project aims to move passengers from curb to gate using a single biometric travel token (fingerprint, face or iris). But concerns over data protection must be addressed.

The Human Touch Still Important

Passengers want more self-service options. Automated check-in was preferred by 84 percent of passengers. Most (47%) prefer to check in online using a smartphone. Only 16 percent preferred traditional check-in.

Some 70 percent of passengers want self-service baggage check-in. Only one in three travelers prefers an agent to tag their bag. The electronic bag tag is growing in popularity - favored by 39 percent of passengers (up 8 percentage points from 2017).

The overall experience with automated immigration procedures was rated favorably by 74 percent of passengers. A similar percentage (72%) believe that automated immigration processes are faster and 65 percent believe they enhance security.

The human touch is still preferred by some market segments and for certain situations. For example, senior travelers (65 years and older) have a strong preference for traditional check-in (25% vs global 17%) and bag-drop processes (42% vs global 32%). And when there are travel disruptions 40 percent of all age groups of passengers want to resolve the situation over the phone and 37 percent via face-to-face interaction.

Passenger Pain Points

Passengers identified airport security / border control and boarding processes as two of their biggest pain points when travelling. The top frustrations with security were the intrusiveness of having to remove personal items (57%) the removal of laptops / large electronic devices from cabin bags (48%) and the lack of consistency in screening procedures at different airports (41%).

To improve the boarding experience, the top three desires of passengers are more efficient queuing at boarding gates (64%), the availability of overhead space on the aircraft (42%), and not having to queue on the air bridge (33%).

Source: IATA

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