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Airports and Airlines Struggle to Meet Mobility Expectations of More Than 60% of Travelers Surveyed, Despite WiFi Wake-Up Call 12 Months Ago

September 25, 2013 Statistics & Trends No Comments Email Email

Airports and airlines are clearly focused on improving the travel experience. But are the investments they’re making having the desired impact? Based on new research reports — for both airlines and airports of 2,160 travelers just released from FlightView, the day-of-travel information company, the answer is a resounding “no.”

 “WiFi is and has been the highest priority for travelers, yet satisfaction levels have remained largely the same — with approval for airport WiFi actually decreasing by 4 percent, and improving for in-flight WiFi by a little more than 1 percent, since this time last year,” said Mike Benjamin, CEO of FlightView. “With more travelers using smartphones at the airport, and 82 percent using them in-flight – improving WiFi is absolutely critical to improving the overall travel experience.”002SteveCafe&Cuisine250x250

Talking Holograms, Sleeping Pods and Massage Stations Cool…but Lack Broad Appeal

Despite all of the hype, only 8 percent of those surveyed find value in virtual assistant holograms – which cost airports ~$20 to $30 thousand each. Fewer than 16 percent care about massage stations, and only 30 percent are interested in sleeping pods.

“Meeting customer expectations requires asking before implementing,” said Benjamin. “In this case, some airports have spent upwards of $100 thousand on innovative extras that travelers could take or leave, when what they really want are services that support their connected lifestyles.”

Case in point: When asked which amenities travelers would like to see airports and airlines provide, the responses were nothing revolutionary: 87 percent want more charging stations for electronics at the airport, and nearly 75 percent would value tray tables with electronic hookups and charging capabilities from airlines.

Mobile Functionality and Highly-Personalized, Relevant Information Tops Travelers’ Priority Lists

In order to strike the right balance between innovation and practicality, airlines and airports should focus investments on what travelers crave most: mobile self-service and personalized, actionable travel information.

Among the travelers surveyed, the desire for improved mobile functionality was strong:

  • 84% of travelers want mobile access to personalized flight information like boarding times and the status of their connecting flight
  • 76% want the ability to view security line wait times
  • 59% want the capability to track missing luggage
  • 50% want mobile access to their position on the standby list
  • 45% want the ability to manage and share travel itineraries

Destination-centric information was also paramount — nearly 90 percent of travelers want airlines to push the gate and status of their connecting flight to their mobile device, while more than 60 percent want terminal maps, and 53 percent would value weather forecasts.

Of note to airports, the demand for more personalized, relevant information extends beyond mobile and into the terminals:

  • More than 86 percent of respondents want terminal displays with departure information for nearby major airport hubs where there are frequent connections.
  • Nearly 90 percent of travelers value interactive terminal maps on kiosks that show their current location and provide detailed information on items like nearby restaurants, walking times and directions to terminals.

Adoption Rises for Self-Service Technology

While the initial rollout was slow, mobile boarding adoption is starting to take off. In 2013, more than 60 percent of travelers had the opportunity to board with a mobile boarding pass – a 10 percent increase over 2012. Of those travelers that were presented the option, 70 percent took advantage of it, up 11 percent over last year. The adoption is even higher among business travelers: three out of every four use mobile boarding when given the chance.

More modern methods for flight check-in are also catching on, over the past 12 months:

  • 69% of travelers have checked-in for flights using a mobile device
  • 65% have checked in via personal computer
  • 57% have checked in using the airline kiosks

Despite these more convenient self-service options, more than a third of travelers still go to the airline customer service desk to check-in for flights.

“Improving technology and infrastructure are massive undertakings for any airport or airline, but as we move further into an era of mobile and self-service dominance, these capabilities will become especially vital from both the travelers’ and providers’ perspective,” said Benjamin.

To access the full findings from all 2,160 respondents, stop by FlightView’s booth #926 at ACI-NA or download the 2013 reports for airlines andairports.

FlightView’s research features the responses from 2,160 travelers. The survey was pushed to users of FlightView’s Android and iPhone flight-tracking app, and launched and completed in September in 2013.

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