Lonely Planet Writer

Frequent fliers would rather deal with technology instead of humans at airports

Airline passengers much prefer dealing with technology rather than actual people, according to major new global research.

Dubai airport.
Dubai airport. Image by Ravi / CC BY-SA 2.0

Frequent fliers have become so comfortable with automated check-ins, baggage drops, and so on, that they would much prefer never having to interact with a member of staff.

Satisfaction ratings – led by the introduction of new technology – are also rising with 85% of passengers saying they had a positive travel experience, which up 5% since 2014.

The research by air tech company SITA surveyed 9,000 passengers in 19 different countries across Europe, the Americas, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

It found that the most negative part of the flying experience was still security screening, passport control and baggage collection … where new technology was least likely to be available.

Overall, 55% of passengers were using at least some self-service technology on their journey but that end-to-end automation on a flight was still not widespread.

SITA chief executive Francesco Violante said: “It is clear that passengers love technology and once they start to use kiosks, websites, mobile devices, automated gates and other tech, they will continue to do so rather than returning to human interaction.

“As airlines and airports look to introduce new technology they should note that ‘ease-of-use’ is vital for passengers. At check-in, the ease of use can increase kiosk adoption by as much as 86% and mobile by 59%.”

Hong Kong International Airport.
Hong Kong International Airport. Image by Chris Smith / CC BY-SA 2.0

The research also broke down fliers into four main types – careful planners, pampered passengers, the hyper-connected, and open-minded travellers.

You can find out what type of passenger you are and how you compare to others around the world through their online survey.

SITA said a ‘one-size fits all’ approaches by airlines risked alienating some types of passenger with the ‘hyper-connected’ and (unsurprisingly) the ‘pampered’ happiest with their recent flying experiences.