Atlanta passengers ready to buy travel services with mobiles

Date: 8 January 2014
Location: Atlanta, United States


Passengers at the world’s busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta, are ready and eager to use mobile travel services throughout their journey, according to a new global survey from SITA. The SITA/Air Transport World Passenger IT Trends Survey reports that 51% of Atlanta passengers would definitely buy tickets using their mobile phones, one of the highest responses at all the airports surveyed.

Atlanta passengers were also more likely than passengers at other airports to access services via apps on their smartphones while travelling. Approximately 65% of Atlanta passengers said they would definitely use their mobiles to make flight changes, compared to a global average of 47%. In addition 60% of Atlanta passengers said they would definitely use mobiles to buy ancillary services, such as seat upgrades, meals and parking, versus a global average of 39%.

This is a big jump from the previous year, when just 35% of Atlanta passengers said they would use smartphone apps to purchase ancillary services. It indicates a major step change in Atlanta passengers’ attitudes to using mobiles to purchase travel services.  

“SITA’s survey shows that we have a great opportunity to increase revenue and create a seamless journey for passengers by offering more mobile services," said Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Interim General Manager Miguel Southwell. "Eighty-two percent of our passengers carry smartphones, the highest of all the airports surveyed. And they are keen to use them for everything from check-in and boarding to accessing information and buying products and services.”

The change in attitude to purchasing travel services on mobile devices is not yet matched by passenger usage. On the day of travel, no passenger surveyed had purchased a ticket using their mobile. More than 62% said usability is the reason they don’t use their mobile for such services. This demonstrates the need for suppliers to make smart phone apps easier and more appealing.

Mobile usage is making headway in other areas of self-service. When it comes to check-in, Atlanta passengers still choose other self-service options, such as kiosks or online check-in via desktops, before mobile check-in. However 38% of Atlanta passengers now use mobile check-in either ‘regularly’ or ‘sometimes’—the highest usage of all airports surveyed—compared to a global average of 31%. On the day of travel, 11% of passengers used their mobile to check-in, a significant increase from 3% in 2011.

Atlanta passengers are also using mobile boarding passes more frequently. On the day of the survey, 10% of passengers in Atlanta boarded their flight with a mobile boarding pass.

Paul Houghton, SITA President, Americas, said: “Over the years, our surveys have shown that Atlanta passengers have a strong preference for self-service. However, this year’s survey reflects a major increase in their desire to use mobile travel services—particularly to purchase tickets and ancillary services. With most passengers now carrying smartphones, travel providers can generate new revenues by creating stronger relationships with passengers through their personal devices. They can then offer services when they need them most.”  

SITA and ATW conducted the eighth annual Passenger IT Trends Survey with a sample of the 299 million passengers who pass through six of the world's leading airport hubs: Abu Dhabi International; Beijing Capital International; Chhatrapati Shivaji International, Mumbai; Frankfurt International; GRU Sao Paulo International and Hartsfield-Jackson, Atlanta.

The survey included 2,489 passengers from more than 70 countries. Those surveyed comprised a mix of business and leisure travelers, and occasional and frequent flyers at all locations.

More information on this and other SITA surveys can be found at www.sita.aero/surveys-reports.