Tuesday, October 4, 2011

TRENDS- Smartphones fuel self-service revolution at airports, says SITA

Posted by- Neelam Mathews

Oct 4, 2011

The number of smartphones carried by airline passengers has doubled over the last year making them an important tool for travelers wishing to check-in remotely, access flight information on the go, or use an emerging range of flight-related applications, according to the 2011 SITA - Air Transport World Passenger Self-Service Survey published today.

For the first time, a major hub in the Middle East, Abu Dhabi International Airport, has been included alongside regular participants: Beijing International Airport; Frankfurt International Airport; Hartsfield-Jackson, Atlanta; Mumbai International; and Sao Paulo Guarulhos.

Smartphone users are at the forefront of the adoption of mobile check-in. Some 31% of smartphone holders use mobile check-in frequently or occasionally, while 36% of interviewed first/business class passengers do so. 

Over 80% of respondents are not interested in receiving information on shopping deals over mobile devices but there are regional variations. Interest level is higher in Abu Dhabi (34%), Beijing (32%) and Mumbai (30%). Generally, those who fly less frequently and younger passengers are more interested.
SMS flight information is also growing in popularity. Over 50% of first/business class travelers and frequent flyers receive SMS notifications; the 2011 SITA Airline IT Trends Survey suggests that the service is available to 76% of passengers, although it may not cover all flights.

Possession of a smartphone has jumped from 28% in last year's survey to 54% this year; 74% of first/business class respondents and frequent flyers (10+ round trips per year) were carrying one.

India needs to incorporate the use of boarding passes on mobiles. Among respondents carrying a mobile device, 73% would like to use mobile boarding passes while 17% had already used them at least once. High service availability at Frankfurt International Airport has generated the highest usage with 25% of respondents having used mobile boarding passes once or more.

"We are now entering the era of the mobile-centric passenger, who is not only able to manage his or her journey independently but also expects personal and timely communication from airlines, airports and other providers of travel-related services. Smartphone penetration is opening up new frontiers for passenger self-service across key steps of the passenger journey from check-in to boarding. 

Technology on mobile devices, such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, can be used to improve passenger flow, alleviating areas of passenger concern such as queues at border control and security," Francesco Violante, SITA CEO, said.

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