IATA’s newly published 2021 Global Passenger Survey (GPS) has delivered two main conclusions, the organisation says.

According to IATA, the International Air Transport Association, passengers want to use biometric identification if it expedites travel processes, and they want to spend less time queuing.  

“Passengers have spoken and want technology to work harder, so they spend less time ‘being processed’ or standing in queues. And 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,” said Nick Careen, IATA’s senior vice president for operations, safety and security. 

The GPS found 73% of passengers are willing to share their biometric data to improve airport processes (up from 46% in 2019) and that 88% are prepared to share immigration information prior to departure for expedited processing.

Just over a third of passengers (36%) have experienced the use of biometric data when travelling. Of these, 86% were satisfied with the experience, according to the GPS. 

Data protection remains a key issue, with 56% indicating concern about data breaches. And passengers want clarity on who their data is being shared with (52%) and how it is being used/processed (51%). 

Boarding was considered the airport queuing element most in need of improvement, according to 55% of passengers, followed by queuing for security screening (41%) and at border control/ immigration (38%). 

With additional document checks for COVID-19, processing time at airports is taking longer. Pre-COVID-19, the average passenger spent 1.5 hours in travel processes (check-in, security, border control, customs, and baggage claim). Current data indicates that airport processing times have ballooned to three hours during peak time with travel volumes at only about 30% of pre-COVID-19 levels. The greatest increases are at check-in and border control (emigration and immigration) where travel health credentials are being checked mainly as paper documents. 

This exceeds the time that passengers want to spend on processes at the airport. The survey found that 85% of passengers want to spend less than 45 mins on processes at the airport if they are traveling with only hand luggage, and 90% of passengers want to spend less than one hour on processes at the airport when traveling with a checked bag. 

GPS results are based on 13,579 responses from 186 countries.