Airline passengers happiest when using technology: SITA

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Published: May 28, 2015 5:31:15 PM

Happy passengers are the ultimate goal of airlines and airports and new research from global IT provider SITA proves that technology can help

Happy passengers are the ultimate goal of airlines and airports and new research from global IT provider SITA proves that technology can help. In a ground-breaking survey, SITA investigated the connection between a passenger’s use of technology and their emotions to discover how passengers around the world feel at every point of the journey. The results reveal that airline passengers are happiest and most excited when using technology for travel tasks. It is now clear that technology is helping make flying more enjoyable.

The 10th annual SITA/ATW Passenger IT Trends Survey was conducted in the first months of 2015 across 17 countries, representing 76 per cent of the world’s passenger traffic and forms a guide on overall levels of passenger satisfaction. It indicates that for the vast majority of passengers most steps of the journey were a positive experience and passengers were happiest using self-service.

Nigel Pickford, director market insight, SITA said, “As passengers become more connected and airports more crowded the move to providing additional self-service continues. However, at SITA we wanted to get a better understanding of the connection between a passenger’s emotions at different stages of their journey and the technologies that have been used. Our survey shows that not only are passengers willing to use technology throughout their journey, but they have a clear preference to use their own technology when they have the choice.”

Participants were asked to review each stage of their journey and identify their range of emotions with an emotion scale tool adapted from Plutchik. The intensity of four emotions- happiness, excitement, anger and anxiety- at each of nine stages of the journey from booking to bag collection were recorded.

Booking the flight is one of the best parts of the travel experience in fact, 91 per cent of respondents experienced positive emotions at this stage. During the journey when they are able to relax, such as dwell time before boarding and onboard the aircraft, were the other times that passengers felt the most happy and excited. An impressive 95 per cent of passengers experienced positive emotions during dwell time and 91 per cent while onboard.

SITA’s survey shows that technology is playing an increasing role in the passenger journey. This year the proportion of passengers carrying smartphones has nudged up to 83 per cent from 81 per cent last year, while 15 per cent travel with three mobile devices (mobile phone, tablet and laptop). And these ‘connected travellers’ are happiest when using their own devices throughout their journey.

When booking their flight the technology that makes passengers the most happy and excited is an app on their smartphone- 94 per cent experienced these positive emotions using the app compared to 90 per cent booking at a travel agent or an airline office.

Looking at check-in it is clear that technology is also making the experience more enjoyable. Overall, check-in is rated positively by the vast majority of passenger (86 per cent) but more passengers had a positive experience when they used self-service check-in. In fact, 97 per cent of passengers who used web check-in experienced excitement and happiness compared to 83 per cent using the airport desk.

Not surprisingly, the least popular stages of the journey were at security, and to a lesser extent bag collection. The majority however, still felt positive at these stages; 64 per cent at security when the negative emotions were mainly driven by anxiety, and 69 per cent at baggage collection.

Pickford added, “Armed with the knowledge that technology helps passengers to experience positive emotions while travelling, airlines and airports now have the opportunity to look at security and baggage collection to see how technology can further improve the passenger experience. For example, increasing the use of automated border control kiosks and gates may reduce the anxiety passengers feel at this stage of the journey.”

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