IATA has released the results of its latest Global Passenger Survey, which shows that international airline travelers are more willing to share biometrics than they were before the onset of COVID-19. The survey specifically found that the majority (73 percent) of passengers would share biometric data in exchange for a more streamlined experience at the airport, a figure that is up dramatically from 46 percent in 2019.
In all likelihood, that shift speaks to people’s poor travel experiences during the pandemic. The average traveler is now spending 1.5 hours in various stages of processing, whether they are checking in, passing through security, boarding a plane, or waiting for their baggage. That figure can balloon to three hours during peak times, despite the fact that traffic is still down, and sits at only 30 percent of the level that it was at before COVID-19.
With that in mind, passengers seem to be receptive to anything that will speed up their passenger journey. Eighty-eight percent are happy to share information before departure, and 86 percent of those who have been subjected to some form of biometric screening reported that they were happy with their experience. However, only 36 percent of travelers have been through a biometric scan, and more than half are worried about data breaches and the potential misuse of their biometric information.
The survey respondents identified excessive queues at boarding, security, and customs as key areas for improvement. The results are based on the feedback of 13,579 travelers from 186 countries all over the world.
“Passengers have spoken and want technology to work harder, so they spend less time ‘being processed’ or standing in queues,” said IATA Operations, Safety and Security SVP Nick Careen. “They are willing to use biometric data if it delivers this result. Before traffic ramps-up, we have a window of opportunity to ensure a smooth return to travel post pandemic and deliver long-term efficiency improvements for passengers, airlines, airports and governments.”
For its part, IATA pitched its IATA Travel Pass and One ID solutions as potential remedies. The former makes it easier for people to track entry requirements and share COVID-19 test results, while the latter allows them to link a biometric token to their identity for expedited screening. SITA has also offered its Digital Travel Declaration service to governments for free in an effort to boost air travel and help the industry recover in the wake of the pandemic.
November 16, 2021 – by Eric Weiss