The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced the results of its 2023 Global Passenger Survey (GPS), showing that travellers continue to prioritize speed and convenience and are increasingly embracing biometrics and off-airport processes to deliver it.
“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,” said Nick Careen, IATA’s Senior Vice President for Operations, Safety and Security.
Planning and booking
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.
• Proximity to the airport was passengers’ main priority when choosing their departure point (71 percent). This was more important than ticket price (31 percent).
• A small majority of passengers prefer to book directly with the airline (52 percent). Regardless of booking channel used however, they would like to have complete visibility into the fare offer including easy access to optional products and services.
“Today’s travellers 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,” said Muhammad Albakri, IATA’s Senior Vice President for Financial Settlement and Distribution Services.
• Convenience was the main reason passengers chose a particular payment method (62 percent). Among seven different payment methods, the most popular was credit / debit card (73 percent), followed by digital wallet (18 percent) and bank transfer (18 percent). At the same time, there are very wide regional variations in credit card usage. Credit / debit cards are most popular in Latin America (85 percent), Europe (81 percent) and North America (74 percent) with the lowest preference being in Africa (57 percent).
Digital wallet penetration is most popular in the Asia Pacific region, where 41 percent of respondents cited this as the preferred option. The next highest market was Europe (15 percent) followed by the Middle East (14 percent). Among the regions, direct bank transfer was the most preferred payment method in Africa (36 percent), followed by the Middle East (21 percent). IATA has developed IATA Pay, an alternative method for travelers to pay for air tickets purchased online by directly debiting their bank account.
• Payment issues cited by respondents included the inability to use their preferred option or to pay in instalments; others cited a tedious payment process and concerns over payment security. Furthermore, 25 percent 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.
Complex visa requirements deter travellers who want a convenient, digital online visa process. Moreover, many are willing to share their immigration information for faster airport immigration procedures.
• Thirty six percent of travellers 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 percent of travellers, 19 percent cited costs and eight percent privacy concerns.
• Where visas are required, 66 percent of travellers want to obtain a visa online prior to travel, 20 percent prefer to go to the consulate or embassy and 14 percent at the airport.
• Eighty seven percent of travellers indicated they would share their immigration information to speed up the airport arrival process, representing an increase from the 83 percent reported in 2022.
At the airport, speed is of the essence. Passengers expect streamlined processes and minimal wait times. They’re keen on using biometrics to expedite procedures, prefer to complete more processes off-site, and arrive at the airport ready to fly.
• Passengers expect to move through the airport faster than ever. 74 percent 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 percent in 2022.