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Travellers seek ease of access, technology in new priority poll

By Wole Oyebade
04 November 2022   |   2:46 am
In a 2022 Global Passenger Survey (GPS) conducted by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), customers demand airports and airlines to simplify the travelling process and make convenience the top priority.

[FILES] Airplane. Photo Safe Travel

Air travellers have rallied behind improved ease of access and the technology-enhanced customer experience in the post-pandemic era.

In a 2022 Global Passenger Survey (GPS) conducted by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), customers demand airports and airlines to simplify the travelling process and make convenience the top priority.

IATA’s Senior Vice President for Operations, Safety and Security, Nick Careen, noted that travel during COVID-19 was complex, cumbersome and time-consuming due to government-imposed travel requirements.

“Post-pandemic, passengers want improved convenience throughout their trip. Digitalisation and the use of biometrics to speed up the travel journey is the key,” Careen said.

IATA noted that passengers want convenience when they plan their travel and when choosing where to depart from. Their preference is to fly from an airport close to home, have all booking options and services available in one single place, pay with their preferred payment method and easily offset their carbon emissions.

According to the survey’s findings, proximity to the airport was passengers’ main priority when choosing where to fly from (75 per cent). This was more important than the ticket price (39 per cent).

Travellers were satisfied with being able to pay with their preferred payment method, which was available for 82 per cent of travellers. Having access to planning and booking information in one single place was identified as being a top priority.

IATA Senior Vice President of Financial Settlement and Distribution Services, Muhammad Albakri, said today’s travellers expect the same online experience as they get from major retailers like Amazon.

“Airline retailing is driving the response to these needs. It enables airlines to present their full offer to travellers. And that puts the passenger in control of their travel experience with the ability to choose the travel options that they want with convenient payment options,” Albakri said.

In the area of travel facilitation, most travellers are willing to share their immigration information for more convenient processing. At least 37 per cent said they have been discouraged from travelling to a particular destination because of the immigration requirements. Process complexity was highlighted as the main deterrent by 65 per cent of travellers, 12 per cent cited costs and eight per cent time.

Where visas are required, 66 per cent of travellers want to obtain a visa online prior to travel, 20 per cent prefer to go to the consulate or embassy and 14 per cent at the airport. A total of 83 per cent of travellers said they would share their immigration information to speed up the airport arrival process. While this is high, it is slightly down from the 88 per cent recorded in 2021.

“Travellers have told us that barriers to travel remain. Countries with complex visa procedures are losing the economic benefits that these travellers bring. Where countries have removed visa requirements, tourism and travel economies have thrived.

“And for countries requiring certain categories of travellers to get visas, taking advantage of traveller willingness to use online processes and share information in advance would be a win-win solution,” said Careen.

Passengers are willing to take advantage of technology and rethought processes to improve the convenience of their airport experience and manage their baggage.

Passengers are willing to complete processing elements off-airport. 44 per cent of travellers identified check-in as their top pick for off-airport processing. Immigration procedures were the second most popular “top-pick” at 32 per cent, followed by baggage. And 93 per cent of passengers are interested in a special programme for trusted travellers (background checks) to expedite security screening.

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