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Airline passengers ready for wearable tech
Location: Geneva
29 September 2014

SITA survey shows technology improves the passenger experience.

Passengers have no problem with airline or airport staff using wearable technology, such as smartwatches and glass. This was revealed today in the SITA/Air Transport World Passenger Survey, which reported that nearly 77% of the 6,277 passengers surveyed would be comfortable with the use of wearable tech to help them on their journey.

The definitive annual global survey, which sampled passengers travelling through the world's top 30 airports, highlights the growing importance of the tech-savvy passenger. Among the passengers interviewed, almost every passenger (97%) carries a smartphone, tablet or laptop when they fly, and one in five travels with all three.

Passengers want to be able to use technology at every point of the journey, and many already do. In total, 76% are using airline apps, and 43% say this has made a definite improvement to their travel. More than half (53%) want personalized alerts about any delays sent directly to their phones, and 57% want airport maps and directions. Half would like to use their smartphone for boarding.

Francesco Violante, Chief Executive Officer, SITA, said: "Travel is better with technology. And tech-savvy passengers expect more personalized apps and services consistently delivered on the web, to their phone or tablet. As new technologies such as wearable tech, NFC and iBeacons[1] become commonplace, they present a great opportunity for airlines and airports to engage directly with their passengers to provide efficient services throughout the journey."

With almost all passengers surveyed carrying a mobile device or computer, the demand for services in-flight is also changing. An increasing number of passengers (56%) want connectivity so that they can use their smartphone, tablet or laptop for in-flight entertainment. Fifty-four percent want to able to send and receive emails and text messages and make and receive phone calls in-flight. And 45% would use their connected device to purchase food and drinks or browse a virtual duty-free shop.

Where once passengers were unwilling to share personal or location information with service providers, 72% are now willing to do so in order to get more personalized services. There is still a reluctance to share information to receive commercial offers, with less than a third of passengers interested in this. But when it comes to improving their journey, for example to reduce queues at the airport, some 40% said they were willing to share their location information.    

The 9th annual SITA-ATW Passenger Survey was conducted across 15 countries worldwide with nearly 6,300 participants.  The 15 countries involved in the survey represent 76% of total global passenger traffic.

Editor's note: Find out more details on the results during the 2014 Passenger Trends Survey Webinar which will take place Wednesday, 2 October. Note that charts from the Passenger Survey are available here for reference.



[1] iBeacon is a technology Apple introduced with iOS 7 that uses Bluetooth Low Energy and geofencing to trigger the display of location-relevant information on devices at the right time and in the right situation.

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