SITA: Passengers happier when technology smooths their way through passport checks

posted on 26th February 2019 by Justin Burns

Airline passengers are using automated technology for passport checks at double the rate recorded in 2017 and are more satisfied when doing so too, according to the SITA 2019 Passenger IT Insights report.

The report shows that in 2018, 44 per cent of passengers sailed through automated passport control, a jump from 21 per cent in 2017.

The report released today, explores how technology is contributing to a smoother passenger experience at every step of the journey.

At passport control, a traditional pain point of the journey, passengers were 3.85 per cent more satisfied when they used self-scanning gates to verify their ID, compared to those using agent-assisted controls. These technology users had a satisfaction rate of 8.36 out of 10.

SITA president of air travel solutions, Matthys Serfontein said: “One of the standout findings of our report this year is that at every point in the journey, where passengers use technology, the rate of satisfaction is higher. Airlines and airports can see the benefit of their technology investments in making it easy for passengers, every step of the way.

“Over the years, booking, check-in and bag drop have increasingly become automated and passengers like it. Interestingly, this year the report shows how introducing automated passport controls, in collaboration with government and border agencies, also increases passenger satisfaction.”

Automated gates used at boarding are another success for the industry and its passengers. Not only do they speed up the processing of passengers but they support more efficient operations and faster turnarounds. Again, SITA’s Insights show that satisfaction is 2.2 per cent higher when passengers scan their own documents to board.

Serfontein added: “Today, we have our Smart Path solution at airports around the world, from Australia to the Americas, which uses biometrics to automate the journey.

“Across the board we have found that passengers are keen to use the biometric self-service process, when given a choice, over 90% of travelers typically opt in. Actions speak louder than words and it’s becoming very clear from our Smart Path implementations that people like using biometrics for easy travel.”

It seems that when it comes to verifying their identity, passengers are ready to use technology even more and in a variety of ways. SITA reports that 59 per cent are ‘very willing’ to use their mobiles for ID verification along the journey, with a further 33 per cent open to the idea.

While proving your identity using your mobile device is not an option widely available today, with nine out of 10 passengers potentially welcoming this service, airlines and airports can be confident when moving to mobile services for ID identification. Passengers are looking to make their journey as easy as possible and mobile is top of the technologies they want to use.

The key findings of SITA’s report are based on a survey of passengers from 20 countries across the Americas, Asia, Europe, Middle East and Africa, representing over 70 per cent of global passenger traffic.

This is the 13th edition of the SITA Passenger IT Insights which is available here.