Lonely Planet Writer

European air passengers more likely to book flights online than other travellers

European air passengers are more likely to use technology to organise their travel with four-in-five travellers booking their flights online, a higher rate than in the rest of the world.

European air passengers more likely to book online.
European air passengers more likely to book online.

However, when it comes to checking in – travellers from Europe do seem to prefer an old-fashioned check-in and 35% still like to visit a desk staffed by an airline employee.

European travellers are significantly more likely to get their boarding passes online with 31% using apps or websites for their boarding documents, compared to just 11% internationally.

The research by airline tech company SITA examined the habits of passengers in five different major European markets in France, Germany, Italy, Russia and Spain.

They discovered that travellers on the continent were more likely to be what they call “careful planners”, who tend to ensure everything is checked and double checked before even arriving at the airport.

Overall, passengers in Europe are generally positive about their travelling experiences with 85% reporting they were happy on their journeys.

However, frequent fliers are most content during the parts of their trip where they have the most control and choice, using online, mobile, or high-tech kiosks for checking in themselves or their bags.

Contentment rates drop significantly during security screening, passport control and baggage collection, familiar to most as the most stressful part of any airline trip.

When it comes to free time at airports – 92% of passengers have a positive experience, not least because their tastes are relatively simple.

The top five activities for people waiting on a plane were reading a newspaper (85%), reading a book (82%), listening to music (80%), shopping (80%), or eating and drinking (79%).

Tablets are the most popular mobile device with European passengers.
Tablets are the most popular mobile device with European passengers. Image by FHKE / CC BY 2.0

In terms of what mobile devices they bring, tablets were more popular among European travellers than elsewhere (46% brought one), while 83% travelled with a smartphone, and 9% with a smartwatch.

SITA’s European President Dave Bakker said: “Airlines and airports across Europe are serving passengers well with 85% happy throughout their journey.

“As is the case worldwide, there is an opportunity to transform the experience at security, border control and baggage collection – the steps of the journey where currently the least amount of self-service technology is deployed.”