Airline passengers happier with travel services than before Covid, Iata says

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Airline customers happier with service levels than they were before the Covid-19 pandemic began despite the flight delays and cancellations which has plagued carriers over the summer due to staffing shortages, an investigation has found.

Passengers were more satisfied in 2022, with 80% saying they were very or somewhat satisfied, up from 75% in 2019, according to a global passenger survey by the International Air Transport Association (Iata).

Satisfaction levels are only slightly down from the 82% recorded in 2021, when governments were still imposing pandemic travel restrictions.

Still, the 2022 figure remains high compared to satisfaction levels of around 75% from 2017 to 2019, the survey showed.

Travelers reported being more satisfied with making reservations, finding travel options, and arriving at the airport. Their biggest travel stressors were flight transfers, border control delays, airport security and baggage collection, Iata said.

The global aviation industry is facing a shortage of employees, many of whom have been laid off during the pandemic and have moved on to other professions or adopted more flexible work options, making it more difficult to rehire staff.

Airlines and airports are race for recruits to meet rising travel demand. However, the labor crisis has led to major disruptions during the busy summer travel season.

According to the survey, two out of five passengers were discouraged from traveling due to immigration requirements.

The complexity of the process was highlighted as the main deterrent by 65% ​​of travellers, with 12% citing cost and 8% citing the time it takes to obtain visas.

When visas are required, 66% of travelers said they hoped to obtain a visa online before travelling, 20% said they preferred to go to the consulate or embassy, ​​and 14% hoped to obtain one at the airport.

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The majority of passengers (83%) said they would share their immigration information to speed up the airport arrival process. Although this figure is high, it is slightly lower than the 88% recorded in 2021.

Other traveler concerns were wait times at airports during security, border checks and the flight boarding process, according to the survey.

When it comes to areas for improvement, 93% of passengers surveyed said they were interested in a reliable program to speed up security screening.

Another 25% said they would prefer not to queue at so-called air bridges before getting on the plane, while 20% said they were interested in automated solutions designed to speed up the process control.

In terms of baggage claim, two in five passengers said they had had their baggage mishandled while one in five expressed dissatisfaction with the service provided.

“Travel during Covid-19 was complex, cumbersome and time consuming due to government mandated travel requirements. After the pandemic, passengers want improved convenience throughout their journey,” said Nick Careen, Iata’s senior vice president of operations, safety and security.

“Digitization and the use of biometrics to expedite travel is key.”

About 75% of passengers expressed a desire to use biometrics instead of passports or boarding passes, according to the survey.

In terms of greener travel, the survey revealed that there is a need to raise awareness on carbon offsetting because more than eight out of 10 passengers do not offset the carbon emissions of their flight, Iata said.

The main reason was a lack of awareness, with 30% saying they were unaware of such an option, while 24% said they did not like using offsets and 18% said they did not have the option to do it. .

Airlines are also under pressure from environmental groups to reduce their carbon footprint and rebuild greener operations after the pandemic.

Updated: November 02, 2022, 08:22

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