The International Air Transport Association‘s (IATA) latest global passenger survey has revealed that passengers don’t like queuing and want to use biometric identification to expedite travel processes.
The first conclusion is hardly surprising, but the desire for increased use of biometrics is notable.
Biometric identification is the use of a person’s physical characteristics – their voice, fingerprints or face – in identifying them.
According to the survey, 73% of passengers are willing to share their biometric data to improve airport processes, which is up from 46% in 2019.
88% will share immigration information prior to departure for expedited processing.
Just over a third of passengers (36%) have experienced the use of biometric data when traveling. Of these, 86% were satisfied with the experience.
Data protection remains a key issue with 56% indicating concern about data breaches. And passengers want clarity on who their data is being shared with (52%) and how it is used/processed (51%).
“Passengers have spoken and want technology to work harder, so they spend less time ‘being processed’ or standing in queues,” said Nick Careen, IATA’s Senior Vice President for Operations, Safety and Security.
“And they are willing to use biometric data if it delivers this result. Before traffic ramps-up, we have a window of opportunity to ensure a smooth return to travel post pandemic and deliver long-term efficiency improvements for passengers, airlines, airports and governments,” he added.
Unsurprisingly, a majority of passengers also said they would like to see a marked improvement in airport queueing.
Pre-Covid, the average passengers spent 1.5 hours in travel processes (check-in, security, border control, customs, and baggage claim). Current data indicates that airport processing times have ballooned to 3 hours during peak time with travel volumes at only about 30% of pre-COVID-19 levels. The greatest increases are at check-in and border control (emigration and immigration) where travel health credentials are being checked mainly as paper documents.
This exceeds the time that passengers want to spend on processes at the airport. The survey found that:
- 85% of passengers want to spend less than 45 mins on processes at the airport if they are traveling with only hand luggage.
- 90% of passengers want to spend less than one hour on processes at the airport when traveling with a checked bag.