DIY Boarding Looms for Passengers

The industry says improving the way passengers go through various processes is the biggest IT investment priority for airports.

In other words, printing boarding passes and checking bags are just the start of the growing do-it-yourself movement in passenger processes in airports worldwide, according to the 2014 SITA/ACI Airport IT Trends Survey.

The second-highest investment priority is passenger and airport security, say almost half (47%) of airports that participated in the survey. The report also highlights the importance of the connected traveler: More than 80% of airports plan to invest in self-service and mobile-related projects over the next three years.

IT spending among airports is set to increase, with 63% of chief information officers surveyed saying that their airport will have more money to invest in IT in absolute terms compared to last year.

Passenger self-service figures big in proposed spending. Among senior IT execs from 106 of the top 200 airport operators globally, more than a third (37%) say they plan to increase the number of check-in kiosks and almost a quarter (23%) plan to make kiosks available for other uses.

Among other findings:

  • Almost one in six (17%) airports check in more than half of their passengers through a kiosk and expect that number to jump significantly by 2017.
  • As almost all (97%) passengers now carry a mobile device, airports plan investments in technologies such as geo-location, near field communication (NFC) and iBeacons.
  • Almost two out of three (60%) airports plan to invest in geo-location programs over the next three years. Of those, 49% plan to invest in NFC technology, 33% will invest in iBeacons and 16% will undertake a wearable technology project.
  • Also during the next three years, the number of airports offering assisted bag drop is expected to rise from 38% to 74%, with unassisted bag drop rising from 16% to 62%.
  • Most airports plan to expand services through mobile apps, with 78% focusing on customer relationship management (CRM), 73% on security wait-time notifications, 72% on way-finding and orientation and 65% on retail services.
  • A total of 65% of Chinese airports already have a major self-service program in place; another 29% are running a self-service pilot project. More than one-third of China’s major airports also revealed that they plan to increase the number of check-in kiosks.