July 01, 2022

The urge to travel is greater than ever with passengers embracing technology to make the journey as convenient and seamless as possible but COVID documentation requirements have spiked negative emotions.

The annual SITA Passenger Insights 2022 survey, which polls passengers in 27 countries including Australia, reveals that passengers want to travel more and are increasingly using mobile devices for booking, on board the flight, and for bag collection compared to the period just before the pandemic while automated gates saw increases in adoption for identity control, boarding, and border control.

However, the survey also found that 27 per cent of passengers – the highest in the survey – reported emotional stress when completing COVID approvals for their trip.

Not surprisingly another stress area was security lines with 26 per cent of passengers flagging emotional stress as well as baggage collection at 16 per cent, although that number is in decline due to automated advice on bag location being rolled out.

The survey found as the recovery gathers pace passengers intend to fly more from 2023 onwards than they did prior to the pandemic, anticipating averages of 2.93 flights per passenger per year for business, and 3.90 for leisure.

SITA, the IT provider for the airline industry, said the results clearly reflect the accelerated digitalization of air travel since the outbreak of the pandemic and passengers’ willingness to adopt technologies.

However, it said that health verification is a pain point that has slowed end-to-end automation with over half of passengers still doing their own research on health verification requirements and manually submitting documentation.

SITA’s research found that uncertainty about health requirements and travel rules has likely led travellers to seek more staff interaction when starting the journey.

The survey highlighted that the more technology there is during travel, the happier passengers are with as many as 87 per cent of passengers having positive emotions about identity control, up 11 per cent from 2016, the last time this metric was surveyed.

Passengers gave a big tick to biometric identification in easing the journey, scoring it 7.3 out of 10.

David Lavorel, SITA chief executive said that the “technology-driven end-to-end passenger journey is becoming a reality, as the air transport community continues to digitalize its travel processes and industry operations, accelerated by the pandemic.

“We are seeing that passengers are increasingly embracing mobile and touchless technologies across the journey, to make their travel as convenient and seamless as possible.”

On the environment around half of the passengers surveyed said that they would value airports and airlines putting in place new IT solutions to support sustainability with almost all passengers saying they would pay on average 11 per cent of their ticket price to offset carbon emissions from their flight.

Asked if the air transport industry is doing enough to become more sustainable, more than half of passengers either think not or don’t know, suggesting there is room for industry improvement in communicating sustainability initiatives and actions SITA said.