Study finds airline passengers tech-savvy, but mobile usage still low
by Shamoli Dutt


While more than 90 per cent of international airline passengers say technology helps them when travelling, smartphone usage for travel services has yet to go mainstream, according to the SITA/ ATW Passenger IT Trends 2013 Survey.

This is despite finding three quarters of passengers (76 per cent) surveyed carried a smartphone, which outstripped the global average of 40 percent of the general population.

Conducted at six leading airports around the world the survey found travellers were tech-savvy and equipped to use the latest mobile travel services but were cautious about doing so.

Even though passengers carried smartphones and said that they would use mobile services the majority have yet to make the transition. The actual rates of usage of services, such as check-in and booking, remain below 5 per cent. Some 78 per cent of passengers cited usability concerns and limitations of the device as a possible reason for not using mobile for travel.

SITA chief executive, Francesco Violante, said technology had become an indispensable travel tool for the vast majority of today’s passengers.

“Passengers are ready, but remain at the edge of really “going mobile”. This year’s survey has shown that the industry should indeed offer mobile services that make it easier to book travel and manage the entire journey. Improving usability and utilizing the unique capabilities of smartphones is the key to increase usage. Airlines and airports that recognize this, and provide passengers with easy-to-use mobile services that improve the travel experience, will enjoy higher adoption rates and passenger satisfaction, he added.

In this year’s survey, 69 per cent of respondents booked their travel through a website and 20 per cent used a kiosk for check-in on the day of travel.

To persuade people to change their travel habits mobile services will need to deliver additional value over existing technology choices.

The survey found information services are on top of the list for passengers with 63 per cent saying they would use their mobile for flight search and 58 per cent for flight status. This compares with 29 per cent who would want to receive promotions on their mobile and 37 per cent who would actually buy tickets.

These key findings are from six of the world's leading airport hubs: Abu Dhabi International; Beijing Capital International; Chhatrapati Shivaji International, Mumbai; Frankfurt International; GRU Sao Paulo International and Hartsfield-Jackson, Atlanta.

The survey included 2,489 passengers from more than 70 countries. Those surveyed comprised a mix of business and leisure travellers, and occasional and frequent flyers at all locations.

SITA is a leading global specialist in air transport communications and IT solutions

by Shamoli Dutt - Austguide Travel News Editor