With the number of smartphone owners travelling by air jumping from 28 per cent to 54 per cent in a year – according to the 2011 SITA – Air Transport World Passenger Self-Service Survey – it is clear that these increasingly indispensable devices are being used by holidaymakers and business travellers alike to locate cheap hotels, restaurants or to navigate strange cities.
Most importantly of all, smartphones are fast becoming a key part of air travel, with Britons using them to check-in online, access the most up to the minute flight information and use an ever-growing range of other applications.
It is fair to say that demand is even higher than the current facilities available to smartphone users in the world’s airports, which are only now seeming to wake up to the devices’ endless possibilities. Just as searching online for cheap holidays revolutionised the holiday bookings sector, so the rise of mobile devices will end up redefining the air travel experience, air communications giant SITA believes.
The survey found that 73 per cent of smartphone users wanted to be able to use mobile boarding passes, while another 17 per cent had already taken advantage of this service, offered now by many airlines. Passengers who had travelled via Frankfurt International Airport were the most likely to have used mobile boarding, with 25 per cent of smartphone owners having done so.
SITA chief executive Francesco Violante said: “We are now entering the era of the mobile-centric passenger, who is not only able to manage his or her journey independently but also expects personal and timely communication from airlines, airports and other providers of travel-related services.”
“Smartphone penetration is opening up new frontiers for passenger self-service across key steps of the passenger journey from check-in to boarding. Technology on mobile devices, such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, can be used to improve passenger flow, alleviating areas of passenger concern such as queues at border control and security.”