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Hartsfield-Jackson leads in self-service technology

By Maria-Jose Subiria

msubiria@news-daily.com

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has been recognized as a leader in passenger self-service technology by SITA, the world's leading specialist in air transport communication and information technology.

"Atlanta passengers have always been ahead of the digital pack, and this year's survey shows an even greater appetite for self-service technology," said Cathy Stam, portfolio marketing director for SITA.

SITA's 5th annual Air Transport World Passenger Self-Service Survey is "an in-depth look at the attitudes and habits of a representative sample of the 287.6 million passengers who use Atlanta and six other leading international airports," said Stam.

Other airports included in the survey were: Beijing Capital International Airport, in Beijing, China; Frankfurt Airport, in Frankfurt am Main, Germany; Moscow Domodedovo Airport, in Moscow, Russia; Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, in Mumbai, India; O.R. Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg, South Africa, and Sao Paulo Guarulhos International Airport, in Guarulhos, Brazil, according to Stam.

Hartsfield-Jackson has experienced an increase in passengers who want to use online check-in frequently, with a hike of 72 percent this year, compared to 29 percent in 2009, said Stam. In addition, 57 percent of those surveyed already use online check-in regularly, she said.

Overall, 76 percent of Atlanta passengers used some form of self-service check-in, including online, kiosk and mobile check-in, she said. Almost 90 percent of that group revealed that they utilize kiosk check-in, either frequently, or at times, she added.

Atlanta passengers value control of their journeys, added Sandra Girona, regional vice president for North America for SITA. The survey found that 46 percent of passengers passing through Hartsfield-Jackson used smart phones, which was a higher rate than anywhere else, she said.

"We expect that the demand for passenger self-service technology, developed around the mobile phone, will be a growing trend in the years to come," said Girona.

Only 53 percent of Hartsfield-Jackson passengers checked-in a bag, compared to 70 percent of the survey's global average, added Stam.

"The low percentage of checking in bags can be partly attributed to the high number of interviews on short-haul flights and avoidance of baggage fees," she said.

Most of Hartsfield-Jackson's passengers also have a strong interest in self-bag-tagging, said Stam. The survey shows that 84 percent would print bag tags from kiosks, if the option was available, compared to 70 percent worldwide. Also, more than 80 percent of Atlanta passengers would print their bag tags from home, or the office, if the option existed, she said.

"Passengers at Atlanta ranked security screening as the main area for improvement in the passenger journey, and 79 percent expressed interest in the use of automated border control and security processing," she said.

Robert Kennedy, interim deputy general manager at Hartsfield-Jackson, said the survey highlights the important role self-service technology has in assisting the world's busiest airports with efficiency.

"Here at Atlanta, we are delighted to host the world's most enthusiastic users of self-service, and to be able to meet the needs of both passengers, and airlines, to such a high degree, whether on, or off, the airport campus," said Kennedy.

The highest recorded use of online booking was among Atlanta passengers, according to the 2010 survey, said Stam. Seventy-nine percent of the Atlanta travelers surveyed make frequent travel arrangements online, because of the control it gives them, she said.

Hartsfield-Jackson was the only airport in which more females were interviewed than male respondents, said Stam. More than 90 percent of Atlanta passengers, who participated, were domestic travelers. Some 65 percent were on leisure trips, and 81 percent were on short-haul flights.