The 2023 Global Passenger Survey by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) shows passengers continue to prioritise speed and convenience.
The survey also found that travellers are increasingly embracing biometrics and off-airport processes to deliver it.
“Passengers have made it clear: they want to spend less time booking and move through the airport faster. And they are increasingly willing to use biometric data to complete more pre-departure tasks off airport to achieve this,” said Nick Careen, IATA’s Senior Vice President for Operations, Safety and Security.
Planning and Booking
Passengers want convenience when they plan their travel and when choosing from where to depart. Their preference is to fly from an airport close to home, have all booking options and services available in one single place and pay with their preferred payment method.
Proximity to the airport was passengers’ main priority when choosing their departure point (71%), the IATA survey showed. This was more important than ticket price (31%).
A small majority of passengers prefer to book directly with the airline (52%). Regardless of booking channel used however, they would like to have complete visibility into the fare offer including easy access to optional products and services.
“Today’s travellers expect the same online experience as they get from major online retailers. The Modern Airline Retailing programme responds to these needs. Whichever shopping channel passengers choose, airlines want to present them with all the options for even quicker and more convenient booking. When Modern Airline Retailing is fully realised, travelers will be able to track their air travel purchases with a single order number—simple and fast. It will also greatly simplify reaccommodating travellers in the event of a change or a disruption,” said Muhammad Albakri, IATA’s SVP for financial settlement and distribution services.
Convenience was the main reason passengers chose a particular payment method (62%), the IATA survey showed. Among seven different payment methods, the most popular was credit / debit card (73%), followed by digital wallet (18%) and bank transfer (18%).
At the same time, there are very wide regional variations in credit card usage. Credit / debit cards are most popular in Latin America (85%), Europe (81%) and North America (74%) with the lowest preference being in Africa (57%).
Digital wallet penetration most popular in the Asia Pacific region, where 41% of respondents cited this as the preferred option. The next highest market was Europe (15%) followed by Middle East (14%). Among the regions, direct bank transfer was the most preferred payment method in Africa (36%), followed by the Middle East (21%).
IATA has developed IATA Pay, an alternative method for travellers to pay for air tickets purchased online by directly debiting their bank account.
Payment issues cited by respondents included the inability to use their preferred option or to pay in installments; others cited a tedious payment process and concerns over payment security. Furthermore, 25% of potential product/services sales during the customer journey could not be eventually completed because of payment issues.
“Payment needs to be seen as part of the commercial offer and not just as a financial transaction at the end of the sale. Customers want to be able to use their preferred payment method with convenience and security. Each market is different and there is no one-size-fits-all answer. If a preferred payment method is not available or too complicated, the potential sale may be lost. Ensuring the customer can use their preferred payment method more often is a key part of the Modern Airline Retailing program,” said Albakri.
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