Airline passengers snub smartphone travel services

More than 90 percent of airline passengers say technology helps them when travelling, but using a smartphone for travel services has yet to go mainstream.

This is despite the finding that three-quarters of airline passengers now carry a smartphone, according to results of the 2013 SITA/Air Transport World Passenger IT Trends Survey.

The survey, conducted at six leading airports around the world among almost 2,500 travellers from 70 countries, paints a picture of tech-savvy passengers who are equipped to use the latest mobile travel services, but who are cautious about doing so.

At 76 percent, the proportion of passengers carrying smartphones outstrips the global average of 40 percent in the general population.

Even though passengers are carrying smartphones and say they would use mobile airline services, the majority has yet to make the transition. Despite an increase in recent years, actual rates of usage of these services, such as check-in and booking, remain below five percent.

The majority of passengers - 78 percent - cite usability concerns and limitations of the device as a possible reason for not using mobile for travel.

Francesco Violante, CEO, SITA, said: “Technology has become an indispensible travel tool for the vast majority of today’s passengers. Our survey shows that 90 percent say that technology has helped them when travelling.

“Improving usability and utilising the unique capabilities of smartphones is the key to increase usage. Airlines and airports that recognise this, and provide passengers with easy-to-use mobile services that improve the travel experience, will enjoy higher adoption rates and passenger satisfaction.”

Passengers have said that information services are what they want most on their mobiles, with 63 percent saying they would definitely use their mobile for flight search and 58 percent for flight status.

This compares with 29 percent who would definitely want to receive promotions on their mobile and 37 percent who would buy tickets.

In this year’s survey 69 percent of respondents booked their travel through a website and 20 percent used an airport kiosk for check-in on the day of travel. These figures are in line with the levels seen in last year’s survey, "suggesting the first wave of self-service technology is a firmly established part of the travel experience", said SITA.

The survey was carried out at Abu Dhabi International; Beijing Capital International; Chhatrapati Shivaji International, Mumbai; Frankfurt International; GRU Sao Paulo International and Hartsfield-Jackson, Atlanta.

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Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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