Sunday, February 17, 2013

REVEALED: Four major trends that will shape air travel by 2015

Four major trends set to shape air travel by 2015
What will airline passengers expect in the future?
I received an interesting report from SITA the other day, titled ‘Flying into the Future’, which claimed that technology innovation will significantly change the way we travel by 2015.

“Over the next three years, the industry will see a major transformation in the way passengers buy travel services and use self-service along their journey,” stated the report. “In addition, these journeys will take place in a fully mobile and social environment with airlines and airports intelligently using vast quantities of data to deliver real service and operational improvements.”

Okay, that’s probably not a massive surprise to many people in the aviation industry – or passengers for that matter – but I wanted to share the four major trends that are set to shape air travel over the next two or three years, according to SITA (a company that should have expert insight into the topic, as its marketed as ‘the world's leading specialist in air transport communications and IT solutions’).

The report is quite timely for me. You may have read in the media that Etihad Airways will make its ‘Big Switch’ to new, state-of-the-art, passenger sales, website, and check-in systems next week, the most significant milestone in its US$1 billion, ten-year, deal with Sabre Airline Solutions.

The Passenger Service System (PSS) transformation project is the most challenging IT and business-critical initiative that the Abu Dhabi-based airline has implemented in its history and will offer significant enhancements to the customer experience, especially in areas such as mobile and guest communications.

You can read more about that on the Etihad Airways website, but back to SITA! Based on the company’s most recent surveys of airlines, airports and passengers worldwide, the four major trends which will shape the future of global air travel are listed below (there’s a cool infographic at the end, so keep reading)!

  1. The way passengers buy travel will change. By 2015, both airlines and airports expect the web and the mobile phone to be the top two sales channels. Passengers are asking for a more personalised buying experience, and the industry is responding. For example, Alaska Airlines is one of several airlines with a travel app that alerts fliers to airfare deals from their hometowns and to cities where their friends live.
  2. Passengers will take more control. By 2015, 90% of airlines will offer mobile check-in—up from 50% today. Passengers will use 2D boarding passes or contactless technology such as Near Field Communications (NFC) on their phones, at different stages of their journey, such as at boarding gates, fast-track security zones and to access premium passenger lounges.  Japan Airline’s Touch & Go Android is one example of an app, which will allow passengers to pass through boarding gates using their NFC-enabled phones. France’s Toulouse-Blagnac Airport is piloting a similar service.
  3. Customer services will become more mobile and social. By 2015, nine out of ten airlines and airports will provide flight updates using smart phone apps. The industry is also exploring apps to improve the customer experience. At Japan’s Narita Airport, roaming service employees personalise the customer experience by using iPads to provide airport, flight and hotel information to passengers. In addition, Edinburgh Airport is one of several airports with apps that help passengers plan their journeys to and from the airport, track their flights, access terminal maps and reserve parking spots before they arrive.
  4. The passenger experience will improve thanks to better business intelligence. By 2015, more than 80% of airports and airlines will invest in business intelligence (BI) solutions. Most will focus on improving customer service and satisfaction, often through personalized services. For example, one European airline, Vueling, researches customers via social media in an effort to understand them better. It then integrates this information into their BI programmes to improve loyalty. 
Do you agree with the list? As always, please feel free to share your comments here, and you can also get in touch on FacebookTwitter and Google+ - I look forward to connecting with you!

Here's what Nigel Pickford, Director Market Insight at SITA, had to say: “Information technology has already had a major influence on air travel. And with the number of global travelers expected to double by 2030, it will continue to lead the way for the industry."

He added: “Passenger needs and preferences are changing. Today’s passengers want more control throughout their journey. They expect transformation in both the kinds of services airlines and airports offer, and the way they communicate with them. At the same time, the industry is investing in business intelligence solutions and collaborating more to increase operational efficiency and improve customer service and loyalty.”

RELATED: Top 10 Long-Haul Airlines of 2012, According To ‘Which?’ Magazine


  1. Thanks Robeel: I agree with all 4 with emphasis on mobile apps... Name one place we don't carry our cellphones? Leave your phone somewhere and see how out of focus you are... Watch the anxiety button go on... No calls, no voice mail, no clock, no music, and no web service. The touch phone to phone music app is a blast. Now how do we apply this to hotels and airlines? Set the preferences and hit the send like SMS and within seconds our itenerary / reservations are set and we get the confirmation numbers in seconds.

  2. Mary Ann Liza FarrugiaFebruary 18, 2013 at 1:30 PM

    With the continuous bombardment of latest mobile phones and apps we are faced with, I am not surprised that the trend is to the full utilization of these so called "tech innovations." It is inevitable that we will witness a gradual demise of the travel agencies, I am saddened by this death, however, mobility and convenience will be the tall order. There is no other recourse.

  3. It is simply a question of the brand commitment benefit: over 25% of an app's users will make a return purchase, as discussed by MobileMarketeer. This kind of "guaranteed loyalty" cannot be ignored (see also SimplyFlying's infographic on Social Loyalty,; I am not affiliated with either of these, just a news reader).

    Let's not ignore the fact that SITA has been a leader/driver in this area, so in a way this report is self-advertising; I can only echo the obvious uncertainty, the fuzzy part of the equation: will investment and runtime costs be low enough to please 21st century "freebie junkies". I guess that will emerge on a case-by-case basis.

  4. Agreed, but a bit surprised there wasn't traction its a huge market opportunity for a struggling industry on a global level.

  5. Excellent predictions, however technology cannot replace a human touch & comfort when something goes wrong or misplaced. Thanx, Vick.

  6. Yes I do agree on the concept that the only way to keep interaction with passenger will be via their own device mobile , iPad ..etc because today most of the travelers do not leave home with out it and the airport , hotel, shopping mall ..etc are providing free wifi which make it affordable to keep your device on when outside your region .. This will enable every one in the travel cycle to keep updated with status and alert specially in case of distrupance or bad weather ..etc.. The mean drive will the airline BI build on top of the massive data that is already collected to predict passenger profile and shopping trends ...

  7. Interesting but of course not too surprising. More interesting is what the passengers want to do in the apps and how that cut cost and increase sales.


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