Why do passengers prefer self-service?

Survey says passengers choose to use it rather than interact with people

It has been clear for many years that airline passengers in general prefer to interact with machines rather than airline and airport staff.

This is seen in the massive rise in the use of online and mobile bookings, self-service check-in and bag drop and ABC eGates for immigration.

Is that because passengers just prefer to use machines or is it a reflection on a service industry providing less than ideal service?

Either way, airlines and airports are very happy. It means less costs for the airlines and more revenue for the airports.

Unsurprisingly, IT companies love self-service as they are big winners.

So, self-service really is a win-win-win-win. For airlines. For airports. For IT companies. And, most importantly, more passengers.

Sita, one of the IT giants in the airline and airport industry, have released a new survey that confirms all the above.

The 2016 SITA Passenger IT Trends Survey shows that passengers are happier at the steps of the journey where they have more choice and control in how they manage their trip.

93% had a positive experience at booking, which they can do online, using a mobile or with an agent.

When it comes to check-in 91% using self-service technology will do so again and again. More than half of passengers (56%) using self-service bag-drop plan to use it again.

The figures do not show where self-service is the only option, which is increasingly the case.

Passengers are least happy at security screening, passport control and baggage collection.

Once passengers get used to using self-service few want to go back. Even if they are not satisfied with one type of self-service technology they tend to try another rather than look for a person. They might find it difficult to find one if they did.

SITA also looked at the human side of its survey, first looked at last year.

The 2016 figures show that passengers are at their happiest during booking, dwell time and once on-board the plane. Interestingly, this is when passengers are interacting with other people rather than machines.

Other findings from the survey include:

  • A majority of passengers (55%) use some self-service tech on their journey but the end-to-end self-service journey is not yet widespread
  • When using mobiles for travel 92% find check-in easy to use
  • Passengers indicate they want more mobile services and baggage notifications are a top priority

This is the 11th edition of the SITA/ATW Passenger IT Trends Survey. It was conducted with more than 9,000 passengers from 19 countries across the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa .

The full report can be downloaded here.

N.B. Image credit: Sita

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