Tech to ease stress of flying
Airline passengers are expected to rely more heavily in the future on smartphones and portable devices to make travel less stressful thanks to mobile check-in apps, automatic f light updates, mapping software to navigate airports and technology to locate bags.
That conclusion comes from a survey of dozens of airlines worldwide by SITA, a multinational airline technology company. The survey found that carriers worldwide plan to invest heavily in Internet-based technology over the next three years to help speed passengers through the airport and reduce traveler anxiety.
But airlines are investing in such technology because they know that passengers who enjoy their travel experience are more likely to f ly again and remain loyal to their airline, said Nigel Pickford, SITA’s director of market insight.
“Happy travelers spend more money during the journey,” he said.
According to the survey, about 9% of air travelers today use digital tablets or smartphones to check in before boarding a f light, ac- cording to the survey. By 2018, that rate is expected to climb to 24%.
Automatic luggage dropoff machines are also becoming more prevalent, with 74% of carriers expected to offer the service by 2018, up from the rate of 17% today, the survey said.
By 2018, 70% of airlines say they plan to have the technology to give passengers updates on the location of their baggage, up from only 10% today, the SITA survey found.
In the near future, more airports will also rely on socalled beacons that are placed throughout airports, according to SITA. The beacons use Bluetooth technology to sense the movement of travelers through their smartphones. Using special apps, travelers can open a map on their smartphones and, with the help of the beacons, navigate through an airport from the check-in desk to a gate.
Today, about 9% of airlines have experimented with beacons, with 44% of carriers saying they plan to invest in the technology by 2018.
“More and more, people regularly connect with realtime information,” Pickford said. Bob Hope Airport tweets nicer to TSA
If you read any Twitter posts that mention the Transportation Security Administration, most of the comments are going to be negative for nearly every airport in the country.
Except for one: Bob Hope Airport in Burbank.
Travelmath, an online trip calculator, evaluated 7,377 Twitter posts that mention the TSA during the first four months of the year. Based on the terms used in those tweets, Travelmath determined whether the posts were positive, negative or neutral.
The most common words accompanying Twitter posts about TSA were “search,” “confiscate,” “grope,” “rude,” “took my,” “delay” and “stole.”
The website also identified the airports that were the target of the Twitter comments based on geotagging and other methods. The study found that the majority of Twitter posts were negative at almost every major airport in the country, with the most negative Twitter posts aimed at TSA agents at Oakland International Airport.
But Bob Hope Airport, the 85-year-old commercial facility in Burbank, was the only airport in the nation where online Tweets about the TSA were mostly positive.
“The lone outlier — Burbank, CA — was not only the most positive airport; it was the only positive airport,” the study concluded.
A TSA official declined to comment on the study, but said the agency values input from the public.
Although Bob Hope Airport is small compared to most facilities, it is designed to zip travelers through quickly, making the overall experience positive, said Victor Gill, the longtime spokesman for the airport. That may explain the positive Twitter comments, he said.
After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Gill said, Bob Hope Airport expanded the terminal by about 4,300 square feet to make sure that the TSA had plenty of room for checkpoint scanners and passenger queues.
“This has prevented, for the most part, a buildup of passengers,” he said.
A MAN AND HIS CHILDREN use their smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices as they wait for their f light in the boarding gate area at LaGuardia Airport in New York City.