Nearly all airlines set for online check-in

Nearly all airlines set for online check-in

The biggest passenger carriers are leading the way in self-service facilities

Nearly all (89 per cent) airlines expect to offer check-in over the web within the next two years, in response to accelerating take-up of self-service technologies by passengers.

More than half of 100 airlines surveyed now offer online check-in - compared to 42 per cent last year - with 100 per cent implementation among low-cost carriers and the top 25 passenger-carrying airlines, according to the ninth annual Airline IT Trends Survey, sponsored by travel IT supplier Sita.

Some 21 per cent of passengers now use the web to check-in, and by the end of 2008 this is expected to increase to 35 per cent.

Use of self-service kiosks to avoid queues is growing with 37 per cent of passengers expected to use kiosks in 2007, compared to 27 per cent in 2006 – and this is predicted to reach 49 per cent in 2008.

‘IT is moving to the centre of the airline’s business strategy. It’s a key lever to delight customers and cuts costs so it is a win-win situation,’ said Paul Coby, chairman of Sita and chief information officer for British Airways.

The survey also reveals that 60 per cent of airlines have already completed their IP migration and predicts that 80 per cent of airline systems and 83 per cent of airline sites will be IP-enabled by the end of 2007.

Automatic passenger notification services are offered by 48 per cent of the airlines and 91 per cent expect to offer them within one to two years.

By then, 52 per cent of airlines are planning to offer self-boarding and 76 per cent plan to implement mobile phone check in.

Some 86 per cent of all tickets issued will be e-tickets by the end of 2008 and bar-coded boarding passes widely used for online check-in are also being introduced by many airlines with 46 per cent already eliminating the magnetic stripe boarding passes – a figure expected to rise to 88 per cent by the end of next year.

While investment in technology is growing with 54 per cent of respondents spending more in 2007 than in 2006, the percentage of revenues spent on IT by the industry continues to fall and is now at 2.1 per cent down from 2.5 per cent in 2003.

‘The focus is on projects with payback and cost savings, for nine out of 10 respondents’ said Coby.

But as self-service technologies grow to become the norm, how airlines differentiate themselves will be key.

‘At Terminal 5, BA will have 96 self-service kiosks, 96 bag drops and 30 to 40 customer service desks as technology will be absolutely supported by customer services in a great environment to offer a great end-to-end customer experience,’ said Coby.

‘It’s not about the new bits of software and technology, but how you put them together to ease travel.’