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Growing number of UAE travelers prefer self-service at the airport
Location: Abu Dhabi, UAE
06 September 2016

Technology helping travelers speed through formalities and maximize time for shopping and dining

Airline travelers in the UAE are increasingly using self-service technology to better manage each step of their journey and to make the most of their time in the airport to relax, shop and dine. A total of 48% of UAE travelers use self-service technology where available rather than interact with a person, providing them with more control over their journey.

The 2016 SITA Passenger IT Trends Survey, carried out by global IT provider SITA across the UAE’s main airports and representing 98% of the UAE’s passenger traffic, showed that increasingly passengers use self-service technology to book (93%), check-in (44%) and access their boarding pass (61%).

This trend is expected to accelerate next year. The survey shows that self-service usage across the UAE is predicted to surge 36% over the next year with a majority of travelers opting to manage their own booking, check-in and boarding using either a kiosk, website or a mobile app.

Demand for mobile self-service options in the UAE in particular is expected to grow sharply in the year ahead. A total of 34% of travelers expect to use mobile booking compared with 15% in 2016, while mobile check-in will surge from 5% in 2016 to 19% of travelers using it in 2017. Passengers are also demanding new mobile services, particularly in the area of baggage. A total of 71% of UAE travelers said they definitely would want baggage update notifications and 55% said they wanted baggage collection details.

During dwell time at the airport, 93% of UAE travelers considered eating and drinking as the most valuable activity. Similarly 90% of travelers saw shopping as the most valuable activity. UAE travellers are also at their most happy during dwell time, with 96% of passengers feeling positive emotions.

Passengers in the UAE rely heavily on technology during dwell time to access services available in the airport. A total of 72% used their mobile or went online to do airport shopping.

In this year’s survey, SITA analyzed the behavior of four different types of passengers. The Careful Planner, Pampered, Hyper-Connected and Open-Minded Adventurer profiles each uses technology in different ways depending on their travel style. Almost half (41%) of travelers across the UAE’s biggest airports perceived themselves as “careful planners” who planned every step of their journey well in advance while 14% were “pampered” – those willingly to pay extra for comfort.

Hani El-Assaad, SITA President, Middle East, India and Africa said: “Passengers in the UAE value the increased control technology brings to their journey and we expect more passengers in the coming years to make the switch to self-service rather than face-to-face transactions. Furthermore our survey has shown a substitution effect: once a passenger has made the switch to self-service technology, few want to go back. The results make it clear that an investment in technology not only brings greater efficiencies to airports and airlines but passengers are increasingly demanding more self-service technology along their journey.”

*More details of the global results, including information on the emotional scale tool and the technology adoption model, are available here and a UAE fact sheet here

* Visit to find out what kind of traveler you are.

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