The International Air Transport Association (IATA) says ;the results of its 2023 Global Passenger Survey (GPS) show that “travelers continue to prioritize speed and convenience and are increasingly embracing biometrics and off-airport processes to deliver it.
According to Nick Careen, IATA’s Senior Vice President for Operations, Safety and Security, “Passengers have made it clear: they want to spend less time booking and move through the airport faster. And they are increasingly willing to use biometric data to complete more pre-departure tasks off airport to achieve this.”
The IATA GPS stated that the top priorities for passengers include; Planning and Booking, payment, Travel Facilitation and Airport Processes.
For Planning and Booking, IATA says “Passengers want convenience when they plan their travel and when choosing from where to depart. Their preference is to fly from an airport close to home, have all booking options and services available in one single place and pay with their preferred payment method.”
According to the survey “Proximity to the airport was passengers’ main priority when choosing their departure point (71%). This was more important than ticket price (31%). A small majority of passengers prefer to book directly with the airline (52%).”
Muhammad Albakri, IATA’s Senior Vice President for Financial Settlement and Distribution Services said, “Today’s travelers expect the same online experience as they get from major online retailers. The Modern Airline Retailing program responds to these needs. Whichever shopping channel passengers choose, airlines want to present them with all the options for even quicker and more convenient booking. When Modern Airline Retailing is fully realized, travelers will be able to track their air travel purchases with a single order number—simple and fast. It will also greatly simplify re-accommodating travelers in the event of a change or a disruption.”
Concerning payment, the survey shows that “convenience was the main reason passengers chose a particular payment method (62%). Among seven different payment methods, the most popular was credit / debit card (73%), followed by digital wallet (18%) and bank transfer (18%). Payment issues cited by respondents included the inability to use their preferred option or to pay in installments; others cited a tedious payment process and concerns over payment security. Furthermore, 25% of potential product/services sales during the customer journey could not be eventually completed because of payment issues.”
“Payment needs to be seen as part of the commercial offer and not just as a financial transaction at the end of the sale. Customers want to be able to use their preferred payment method with convenience and security. Each market is different and there is no one-size-fits-all answer. If a preferred payment method is not available or too complicated, the potential sale may be lost. Ensuring the customer can use their preferred payment method more often is a key part of the Modern Airline Retailing program,” said Albakri.
For Travel Facilitation, IATA says “36% of travelers said they have been discouraged from traveling to a particular destination because of the immigration requirements. Process complexity was highlighted as the main deterrent by 49% of travelers, 19% cited costs and 8% privacy concerns.”
The survey further revealed that “Where visas are required, 66% of travelers want to obtain a visa online prior to travel, 20% prefer to go to the consulate or embassy and 14% at the airport
“Time-consuming and complex visa requirements deter travelers and deprive destination economies of valuable tourist revenues. Time and again, we have seen that when countries remove visa requirements, economies prosper from rising visitor numbers 1 . Beyond simplified visa procedures, travelers are prepared to share their immigration information if it results in faster and smoother airport processes. Taking advantage of traveler willingness to use online processes and share information in advance is always a win-win solution,” said Careen.
Lastly, for Airport Processes, the survey reveals that “Passengers expect to move through the airport faster than ever. 74% stated that when traveling with only a carry-on bag, they anticipate going from the curb to the boarding gate in 30 minutes or less, an increase from 54% in 2022.”
IATA says “Passengers want to complete more processing elements off-airport. 45% of travelers identified immigration as their top pick for off-airport processing. This was up from 32% in 2022. Check-in was the second most popular pick at 33%, followed by baggage check-in (19%). And 91% of passengers are interested in a special program for trusted travelers (background checks) to expedite security screening.”
“Passengers want technology to work harder, so they spend less time ‘being processed’, standing in queues. And they are willing to use biometric data if it delivers this result. But we need cooperation across the value chain and with governments to make it happen with secure technology that is available today,” said Careen.
IATA’s One ID initiative is revolutionizing airport processes using biometrics so passengers don’t need to stand in queues on departure or on arrival. IATA’s newly developed ‘Digitalization of Admissibility’ standards are the latest advancement with a mechanism to enable passengers to digitally obtain all necessary pre-travel authorizations directly from governments before their trip. With their ‘OK to Fly’ status shared with the airline, travelers can bypass all on-airport document verifications and enjoy an expedited travel process.
“We have the standards and technology to radically improve the international travel experience. But we can only move at the pace that governments allow within their regulations. That’s why a top priority in realizing seamless One ID enabled travel is working with governments to demonstrate that border control can be more secure even while making passenger travel more convenient,” said Careen.