ATLANTA –December 18, 2012 – Self-service usage by passengers at the world’s busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta, has reached new heights with a record 39 percent of passengers using the internet to check-in for flights. Add in self-service kiosk and mobile phone check-ins and a grand total of 85% of passengers avoided airport counters and used self-service check-in according to the results of the latest SITA/Air Transport World Passenger Self-Service Survey of leading international airports. This is a jump of more than 10% since last year.
Paul Houghton, SITA President for Americas, said: “Passengers using Atlanta’s airport were early adopters of self-service and continue to push the boundaries. The rise in the proportion of passengers using all three self-service channels for check-in – web, kiosks, and mobile phone – underlines the importance of a multi-channel approach to self-service allowing passengers to choose the most appropriate to their individual situation on the day of travel.”
While the survey shows web and kiosk check-in are still growing among users of the airport, there are signs that they are reaching a plateau. Mobile check-in is expected to take up the baton and there was a doubling in its usage from 3% of passengers in 2011 to 6% in this year. Nevertheless, today it remains a small part of the check-in mix for Atlanta passengers despite the fact that 75% of them were carrying a smartphone, the highest penetration recorded at any of the six airports surveyed.
Interest in using a mobile phone for other travel-related activities was low among passengers at Atlanta, compared to other parts of the world. Only 45% want to book tickets via mobiles versus a global average of 63%, while buying ancillaries such as parking, meals, or upgrades, was of interest to 35% versus 54% globally. There was more interest in searching for flights, with 71% of passengers rating it highly, but with a global average of 80% Atlanta passengers were less interested than those in the rest of the world. Receiving real-time flight updates was the only mobile phone service rated above the global average by passengers in Atlanta with 91% of them interested, compared to 89% globally.
Houghton commented: “Smartphones are the next logical step for self-service, as they provide automation benefits to passengers, as well as access to real time information while on the move. SITA’s surveys over the last number of years have shown that web and kiosk are deeply embedded in Atlanta passengers’ travel habits and it will take a while for travelers to change their ways and take advantage of the benefits of mobile apps. This year’s survey indicates that in other regions of the world, particularly Asia, where kiosk and web self-service are less commonplace, passengers are showing a lot stronger desire to embrace a mobile self-service future.”
Despite claims that social media networks, such as Facebook and Google Plus, will become the center point for life’s activities, passengers traveling through Atlanta’s airport - of which 93% were from the United States - do not see much of a role for social media in air travel related activities.
When asked to rate eight air travel services which could be done via social media, Atlanta passengers rated them lower than those surveyed at any of the other five airports. For instance only 15% of passengers in Atlanta were interested in using social media to share travel itineraries compared to 56% globally; booking a ticket was interesting to only 15% (54% globally); check-in to 18% (60% globally); travel planning to 23% (61% globally); and seat planning was interesting to 26% (59% globally).