Air travellers express satisfaction with biometric technologies for identification at airports in survey

Fifty-seven percent of the surveyed people said they would prefer biometrics to a boarding pass or a passport for their next trip.

An iris scan, a facial recognition, hand wave or fingerprint could help air travellers avail a seamless experience as a recent study has determined that more than half of the passengers surveyed would prefer biometrics for identification purposes at airports. However, nearly a third of the respondents have expressed concerns over privacy of their personal information.

More than 7,000 passengers from 17 countries, including India, were part of the 12th edition of Passenger IT Trends Survey conducted by air transport IT provider SITA and Air Transport World. In all, 37 percent of travellers surveyed used automated ID control on their last flight. Of these, 55 percent said they had used biometrics at departure, 33 percent for boarding and 12 for international arrivals. Fifty-seven percent of the respondents said they would prefer biometrics to a boarding pass or a passport for their next trip.

"Passengers who use biometrics are highly satisfied. In fact, (out of 10) they rated the experience 8.4, well above the ratings for face-to-face transactions at passport check (8) and boarding (8.2), demonstrating passengers acceptance of this secure technology to deliver a seamless journey," the report says. The overall level of passengers satisfaction is higher when travellers use self-service technologies. Baggage management is another area where technology is improving the passenger experience.

Nearly half (47 percent) of all passengers took advantage of a self-service tagging option on their most recent trip, which is up from 31 percent in 2016. Similarly, self-service bag drop is also on the rise with 18 percent of those surveyed opting for this facility as compared to 14 last year. The study points out that not many airports offer self-service bag drop which may be the reason for its slow adoption. However, 43 percent passengers said they would avail of this service on their next flight.

The appetite for using new technology is high among travellers as three quarters (or 74 percent) of passengers say they would use flight and gate alerts on their mobile devices, 57 percent would use airport wayfinding, and 67 percent said they would like to receive baggage collection details on their phones or on display screens.

"Passengers are increasingly comfortable with the use of technology in their everyday lives, and they are demanding more services as they appreciate the benefits technology can bring to their journey. "Airports and airlines can take note that technology solutions can boost passenger satisfaction every step of the way," said IlyaGutlin, President, Air Travel Solutions, SITA.

In India too, the use of unique identification through Aadhaar could soon be mandatory to book air tickets. The Centre is working on a proposal to enable passengers to zip through the airport if they use biometrics.

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