Survey: Flyers Prefer Kiosks to Humans

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Air travelers want more self-service options at the airport, according to a survey conducted by SITA, a company that produces self-service technology for the airline industry, and Air Transport World.

Online booking and check-in have become ubiquitous, and 74% of those surveyed said that they booked their flights online when making their own arrangements. Meanwhile, 61% and 71% use online or kiosk check-in, respectively. In other words, the majority of travelers bypass humans altogether when it comes to buying their tickets and checking in.

Now, they want more.

“The key findings… are that passengers are not only comfortable now with self-service, they are eager to use self-service for many more stages of their journey,” says SITA Portfolio marketing directory Cathy Stam in a video accompanying the survey. This includes boarding, where 70% of recipients expressed a preference for automatic boarding gates, up from 57% in last year’s survey. A similar shift was found when it comes to security screenings, which frequent flyers (those who take 10 or more roundtrips per year) identified as the number one area for improvement. 70% of those surveyed said they would be comfortable with automated security checks, compared to 58% last year.

While SITA attributes the shift to an increased comfort with self-service technology, it likely also reflects an increasing discomfort with the human beings behind the counter. While customer satisfaction with airlines edged slightly upward this year, that has much to do with decreasing air traffic leading to fewer delays. Meanwhile, poor customer service at the airport continues to drive travelers crazy, and many of them were happy to share their horror stories with MainStreet. With long lines at security, exorbitant fees for checked bags and lost and damaged luggage, it’s no wonder travelers don’t feel like dealing with humans.

So how about you, readers? Are you comfortable turning over more of the air travel process to machines if it means you don’t have to deal with long lines and crabby airline employees?

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