Passenger experience Meeting increasing demand with improved service
IATA’s focus in 2018 continued to be on removing obstacles that prevent airlines from implementing Fast Travel solutions... It is estimated that Fast Travel will reduce industry costs by $2.1 billion when fully implemented.
Developments in 2018
Fast Travel provides a seamless experience for passengers from terminal door to aircraft seat. The program offers passengers self-service options at six points of contact with airport functions: self- or automated check-in, self-tagging of baggage, self-checking of documentation, self-rebooking of flights, self-boarding, and self-recovery of baggage. By the end of March 2019, 48% of travelers had access to the complete Fast Travel experience.
The Fast Travel experience, though, varies by region. Africa and North Asia have focused on mobile boarding pass and self-tagging options. The more mature markets of North America and Europe have emphasized end-to-end biometric self-service implementation.
IATA’s focus in 2018 continued to be on removing obstacles that prevent airlines from implementing Fast Travel solutions. There is great incentive to clear the way for Fast Travel. It is estimated that Fast Travel will reduce industry costs by $2.1 billion when fully implemented.
Passengers no longer simply buy an air ticket; they purchase a travel experience. Improving that experience—from booking and check-in, through security, to collecting luggage—is the focus of an array of airline initiatives.
Prominent among those initiatives is the automation of a growing number of airport processes, improved baggage handling and tracking, a single identity token for all travel processes using biometric identification, real-time flight information sent directly to personal devices; and seamless border control.
These and other solutions will also help the industry deal with a doubling of demand over the next two decades. Delivering an ever-higher degree of personalized and convenient experience that puts the passenger in control will therefore not only benefit travelers but also facilitate the most efficient use of constrained airport infrastructure.
2018 Global Passenger Survey Key Results
IATA is calling on governments to intensify their efforts to spread the economic and social benefits of aviation. It is in particular seeking the removal of onerous barriers to the free movement of people across borders. Barriers to travel range from visa restrictions to the inability of airport processes and infrastructure to deal with the growing numbers of air travelers. IATA has developed a comprehensive open borders strategy that will help governments maintain the integrity of their national borders and that will eliminate the inefficiencies preventing the industry from satisfying travel demand. Its four main components are as follows: reviewing visa requirements and removing unnecessary travel restrictions, making travel facilitation a part of bilateral and regional trade negotiations, linking registered-traveler programs, and using advance passenger information (API) effectively and efficiently.
To further traveler convenience, IATA launched One ID in 2018, an initiative that aims at seamless and secure processing for passengers from airport door to flight gate. One ID introduces a collaborative identity management platform that covers all processes and stakeholders in a passenger’s journey. The passenger’s identity is validated early with trusted digital biometric recognition technology, and the validation data is then made available to the relevant stakeholders on an authorized-to-know basis. One ID removes the need for passengers to present different travel tokens to different stakeholders.
In 2018, four groups of experts were formed to evaluate One ID’s deliverables. Those groups applied their expertise to examining the initiative’s business case, operational processes, legal situation, and technological roadmap. They then authored the One ID End State and Key Principles paper, which was published in December 2018.
One ID introduces a collaborative identity management platform that covers all processes and stakeholders in a passenger’s journey... One ID removes the need for passengers to present different travel tokens to different stakeholders.
Airlines carry approximately five billion bags annually. The majority of those bags arrive on time with their owners. Over the past decade, baggage mishandling has dropped around 70%. In 2018, however, the mishandling rate for baggage rose 2.2%, to an average of 5.69 mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers emplaned. The cause of the increase was the heightened demand that the growing number of passengers is placing on baggage handling system capacity at airports worldwide. With passenger volume expected to double by 2037, more attention than ever will need to be paid to baggage operations to ensure that passenger’s high expectations for convenient travel are met.
Awareness is high within the industry that 84% of passengers expect to have their bags tracked and that IATA Resolution 753 requires IATA members to track passengers’ baggage at key points in passengers’ journeys. To date, 78% of IATA members track bags in some way, whether with optical systems, barcodes, radio frequency identification (RFID), or manually. That so many IATA members are tracking passenger baggage is laudable. But their use of so many disparate tracking options undermines the common capability that the industry requires.
For this reason, IATA is proposing to make RFID the standard method of tracking baggage. This will set the direction for baggage handling system design specifically and infrastructure improvements in general to include RFID as a default tracking technology.
New Distribution Capability
The New Distribution Capability (NDC) is transforming the way airline products are retailed by addressing limitations such as the following in the third-party distribution of products:
- The inability of airlines to differentiate product offerings
- The excessive time to market for new products and services
- The impediments to consumer comparisons of the full value of an airline’s offerings rather than, as is typically the case, only its base fares
NDC’s success in overcoming such limitations is largely attributable to the development and introduction of its XML Internet language as the standard for communications between airlines and travel agents. The XML standard enables airlines to display and sell ancillary products and services through travel agency and other third-party channels just as they do on their own websites. This was difficult to impossible for airlines to do owing to limitations in the pre-Internet language that power most travel agent systems.
For travelers, NDC means greater transparency when shopping with a travel agent, online travel seller, or self-booking tool. They also have the option either to be recognized by and to receive customized offers from the airline or to shop anonymously. Travel agents, meanwhile, can access an airline’s entire product portfolio, including ancillaries and promotional fares, using NDC.
The NDC initiative advanced further in 2018. By year-end, some 65 airlines and 65 information technology (IT) providers and aggregators, including all three global distribution systems, had attained NDC certification. Involvement in NDC is ongoing in 2019, with 144 companies certified as of 20 March.
Widespread NDC implementation by airlines, travel sellers, and IT providers has ushered in a change of focus for NDC. The emphasis now is for a critical mass of NDC-based transactions from their still small volumes. To spearhead this effort, IATA established the NDC Leaderboard of 21 airlines seeking to rapidly grow their NDC volumes. Each of these 21 airlines targets having 20% of its sales powered by an NDC application program interface by 2020.
As the NDC strives for critical mass, NDC Leaderboard airlines in the vanguard, IATA is introducing changes to its NDC certification program to support the industry through this phase of NDC’s rapid volume growth. The changes include recognizing the ability to process service messages, such as flight changes and cancellations, using NDC. Additionally, a new designation, NDC@Scale, is being introduced. NDC@Scale will recognize the ability to process large volumes of NDC-supported transactions and will grant special recognition for the ability to meet business travel needs through NDC.
IATA’s outreach on behalf of the NDC to the overall travel community continues apace through advisory groups representing the travel buyer and travel management communities. Engagement with the travel industry also occurs at the annual Business Travel Summit, an invitation-only event for the business travel value chain that is in its fourth year. NDC is also widely represented at the annual Airline Industry Retailing Symposium (AIRS).
ONE Order instead generates a single customer record holding all the data required for air travel order fulfillment.
Travel agents, too, will benefit from ONE Order. They’ll be able to employ a single, identical process to book flights and products for all airlines regardless of an airline’s business model or technological capability.
Airlines, meanwhile, won’t have any further need of relying on the time-consuming and expensive reconciliation of different reference numbers. This will help them streamline their reservation management and financial processes, eliminate their dependency on industry-specific accounting solutions, and simplify their interlining delivery and accounting processes. Airlines also will be able to seamlessly sell, account for, and track the delivery of flight and non-flight products and services in a fashion similar to that of any retailer.
The first ONE Order message schema was released in September 2018 following the conclusion of the ONE Order trials that commenced at the end of 2017. To date, nine ONE Order trials have been conducted.
And in January 2019, IATA launched the ONE Order certification registry. The registry ensures the transparency of ONE Order deployments, validates the capabilities of the program’s supporting IT providers, drives ONE Order’s innovation, monitors the program’s progress, and bolsters ONE Order adoption.
The move to ONE Order is a large-scale transformation project encompassing airlines’ internal processes and procedures and their organizational structure. It also impacts also interactions between airlines and other industry partners including passenger service system suppliers, airline e-commerce platforms, travel agents, global distribution systems and others. As such, it appears likely that there will be a transition period, during which airlines will need to operate with both existing legacy processes as well as the new standards.
Solutions for passengers
- Airs@t Passenger Satisfaction Benchmark study is the industry reference for airline benchmarking.
- It tracks passenger satisfaction on detailed travel attributes giving airlines actionable insight on the entire travel experience: pre-flight , in-flight and post-flight.
- Airs@t uses scientifically proven and unbiased methodology to collect a sample that would represent the actual population of the respective airline’s passengers. Random selection of the respondents and multiple control measures included in the survey process help to ensure that collected data is of highest relevance. The same methodology is followed for all airlines to guarantee reliability of benchmark data.
- With unlimited potential for customer data analysis, Airs@t acts as a support tool to complement the Customer Insight activities at the airlines.
- Timatic is the industry’s definitive source for ensuring airlines’ compliance with passenger travel document requirements.
- Its flexibility allows it to be integrated into airlines’ departure control systems and into kiosk and mobile check-in procedures.
- Timatic is updated at least three times daily throughout the year to ensure its application of the latest regulations.