SITA’s Passenger IT Trends Survey for 2014 caught my eye the other day. It’s quite a fascinating area of research; just how high tech will flying become for passengers of the future? Here’s a little insight.
It appears that overall current passenger satisfaction is good in the Middle East, Europe and Asia (only one point above the average dissatisfaction level), yet fellow travellers in the Americas desire a greater improvement. The report credits new technology solutions to reducing passenger frustrations, with travel search, airfare comparisons and online ticket purchases, check-ins and Automated Passport Control, already having an impact on improving the overall travel experience.
In fact 52 per cent of passengers agreed that travel comparison sites such as Wego have had a positive impact on their overall travel experience, with 95 per cent of passengers now making their travel plans online. 53 per cent access travel search through their computer while the strongest growth (43 per cent) now access sites through a mobile app.
Baggage collection continues to be a sore point however plans are in place for mobile apps that inform passengers the time it will take for them to feel the elation of spotting your bag on the carousel, as well as indicating which carousel that joyous moment will occur.
One of the most talked about areas surrounded wearable technologies. Sita’s survey found that 77 per cent of passengers are happy for airline or airport employees to use wearable technology if it means their travel experience is smoother and more personalised. Google Glass, smart-watches and tablets are set to take over operations at airports and on board the aircraft.
SITA’s lab is currently working with Virgin Atlantic at the Upper Class Wing area of Heathrow’s Terminal 3. Airline hosts wear Google Glass to inform them of when a passenger is pulling up to the airport and meets them as they arrive. The host is aware of all the travellers flight details, will advise them of the weather at his destination, organise their seating arrangements and escort them to the Wing. There are big advantages for all airline and airport staff who quite often need to be on the move, to communicate with each other more effectively and access information instantly.
What we can expect in the future, and possibly not too far away, is to be able to run our entire travel itinerary from our smartphones. From finding the best airfare and hotel rate online, check in, boarding and baggage collection, electronic immigration processes, taxi bookings on arrival and even as Hilton Hotels have suggested, digital room selection and check-in which then turns your phone into your room key.
The possibilities are endless but more importantly we can hopefully look forward to a completely seamless, hassle-free travel experience all controlled by you and your very smart phone so you can focus on the important bit; enjoying your trip!