Smartphones Driving Self-Service Usage In The Airline Industry [Survey]


Oh, the darn smartphone again! But hey, they are changing how we do things – from routine stuff like communicating to critical stuff like say booking travel tickets. Airline Industry is welcoming the growing adoption of smartphones.

The airline industry is a challenging segment to operate especially when it comes to keeping the operating costs in check. Players in the sector have been trying new things to discover ways to keep the customer satisfied and at the same time cut costs. Self-service as a concept is critical to airlines because it promises two critical things – Customer Convenience and Reduced Costs.

SITA – Air Transport World Passenger Self-Service survey brings out some interesting shifts in the self-service usage patterns across the globe and how it is helping the airline industry. The survey suggests that self-service usage has increased drastically as compared to 6 years ago when the first survey of such kind was conducted.

Mobile application based check-in’s are increasing


Given that the survey’s sample includes a wide range of locations (including Mumbai), 24% adoption of mobile application check-in is commendable. What is also interesting is new self-service options are taking-off. For starters, one would assume that ticketing and check-in activities are increasingly being done online or on mobile. However, airlines are seeing increased uptake for activities like mobile based baggage tagging and tracking.

Smartphone bearing travellers are increasing in number

Attribute it to the increasing purchasing power or attractively priced smartphones, the number of passengers bearing smartphones is increasing. As many as 54% of the surveyed passengers carried smartphones with them. To put the growth in perspective, only 28% of the surveyed passengers carried smartphones in 2010 as against 26% in 2009. The sharp jump from 28% to 54% in 2011 speaks volumes about smartphones becoming commonplace


iPhone is the most common smartphone with travellers, Blackberry popular in India (Mumbai)

No real surprises here! A large majority of the surveyed travellers had an iPhone but Blackberry adoption among the surveyed passengers is also extremely high. In Mumbai, Blackberry usage is extremely high followed by Symbian which follows the general smartphone market share in India. High adoption for blackberry does suggest that it remains the preferred choice for professionals especially those travelling business class.And yes, Symbian was nowhere to be seen with passengers in Atlanta Smile


Concept of Mobile boarding pass is catching up

Even as the airline industry pioneered self-service online ticketing which the railways are now following, mobile boarding passes are also seeing increased adoption. Mobile boarding passes could be instrumental in saving the cost of printing boarding passes and the time spent printing it for every passenger. 

As many as 28% of frequent fliers and 26% of smartphone users have used a mobile boarding pass once and will like to continue using them. However, mobile boarding is considered complex by many passengers which seems to be inhibiting the usage of mobile boarding


Travellers are open to pay for travel-related mobile applications

This could be a whole new opportunity segment for mobile application developers. A general perception is that a typical airline traveller would be more likely to shell out some moolah for travel related mobile applications. The survey reveals a wide range of information based mobile applications that passengers would be willing to pay for


There is no doubt that smartphones are influencing how we interact in day-to-day life. With a highly dynamic ecosystem of application developers and increasing expectations of consumers, smartphones could disrupt not only the airline industry but a lot of other industries as well. What are your thoughts?

The report is rather exhaustive and highlights other interesting trends in online self-service usage and expectations of frequent air travellers. You can get the complete report here [free sign-up] required.

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