How can airlines improve the passenger experience? IATA’s 2016 survey results

November 28, 2016

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By Jon Glick, Partner, Customer Experience & Loyalty, PwC

The results of the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) 2016 Global Passenger Survey (GPS), on which I recently shared perspectives at IATA’s World Passenger Symposium, show a continued uptick in world travel as average airfares have declined. Not only are more people flying, but they are more diverse in terms of age and home region. Much of the increase is coming from 25- to 54-year-olds in Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Middle East, which is in keeping with the growth of the middle class in those areas of the world. Yet, despite the success of the airline industry in providing millions with safe transport, passenger complaints increased in 2015 and are predicted to rise again this year.

It’s clear that travelers have come to expect a lot: comfort, convenience and a personalized experience — in flight and on the ground. What can airlines do to provide flyers with a more positive experience? The latest IATA survey provides us with some directional answers.

  • The inflight experience is paramount. Travelers are primarily concerned with their experiences onboard, including comfort, an attentive cabin crew, wi-fi access and the availability of inflight entertainment. Half of all flyers would like to use their own devices to stream content. Still, it’s the quality of their interaction with the cabin crew that most impacts passenger perception.
  • Passengers want to be kept informed. flyers say they want to receive timely electronic notifications (primarily SMS or text) about their flight, including updates on cancellations, delays, connections and gate changes. They also want to be able to track bags throughout their journey.
  • Passenger loyalty is subject to change. Passengers are willing to consider switching to another airline, especially for onboard comfort, valued by 60% of respondents, and consistent on-time performance (41%).
  • Security screening is a pain point. There is a need to streamline passenger processes, especially related to security. Travelers note the inconvenience of having to remove laptops and other large electrical devices from their bags, having to remove shoes, coats, belts, and jackets, and resent the wide variations in screening procedures at different airports. In terms of transfers, most passengers say they would like to be able to pass security control and border control only one time during their trip.

For a more detailed discussion of the GPS findings, please visit IATA Global Passenger Survey 2016.


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