Passengers are looking to take control of their air travel experience, with increased automation of airport processes, biometric identification, real-time data on personal devices, unobtrusive security and consistent border control procedures at the top of their list of expectations, according to IATA’s latest annual Global Passenger Survey (GPS), released Oct. 24.

IATA said 82% of travelers want to use a “digital passport” on their mobile devices throughout the travel process, from flight booking through airport passage. Biometric identification—via facial, iris or fingerprint recognition—was approved by 64% of GPS respondents.

“Passengers want to use one single biometric identity token for all of their travel transactions from booking flights to passing security and border control and picking up their bags,” IATA SVP-airport, passenger, cargo & security Nick Careen said. “The technology exists. Its use in aviation needs to be accelerated.”

Passengers continued to give high marks to online booking and online check-in, with about 80% of respondents voicing satisfaction in each category. While passenger satisfaction with security procedures, onboard service and baggage retrieval all improved since last year, border control/immigration procedures and IFE remained as the two air travel journey experiences with which passengers were most dissatisfied.

But airport security and border control processes were again identified as passengers’ biggest pain points, with the top complaints involving having to remove personal items, having to unpack electronic devices in carry-on bags and the variation of security screening methods at different airports, IATA said.

In regards to airport processes, passengers are most interested in being control of their baggage, in particular self-service bag-tagging and self-dropping of bags. Automated immigration gates and self-boarding of aircraft also placed high on passengers’ wish-list, control-wise.

“Passengers have never been as empowered as they are today … smartphone and tablet-toting passengers want to use these mobile devices to control their travel experience,” IATA director passenger and facilitation Pierre Charbonneau said. “Passengers expect to get up-to-date information on all aspects of their journey with minimum effort, through their preferred channel.”

IATA’s GPS survey analyzed comments from 10,675 passengers from over 152 countries. More information can be found here.

Mark Nensel