A Passenger Confidence Tracker undertaken by Inmarsat Aviation was a central feature at the recent FLIGHTPLAN event. The theme of the event was Strategies for Recovery post COVID-19. An important element of recovery will be passenger confidence. The survey, the largest ever undertaken, includes valuable insights into passenger behaviour during the pandemic. It also explores their expectations post COVID-19.
The Passenger Confidence Tracker – A COVID-19 Survey
9,500 air travellers from twelve countries took part in the Passenger Confidence Tracker. Over 80% said that their attitude to flying would change due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And 1 in 5 said they would choose specific, trusted airlines for their flights. This is a significant factor and one the airlines should focus on.
The fundamental message is consistency regarding hygiene practices. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is trying to create worldwide standards. There is a need for closer co-operation between nations regarding all aspects of a flight. These include the journey from home to the airport. The airport experience. The flight itself and what happens on arrival at the destination. Currently we are seeing a situation where airlines are competing by claiming to have the best safeguards in place. But in the interests of the whole industry there should be co-operation across the board. An industry acting cohesively will boost passenger confidence.
Passenger confidence will lead to an increase in passenger numbers.
The New Passenger Journey Post COVID-19
Cabin cleanliness was the most important factor. Passengers need to know what measures each airline is taking. They also need to see that airlines care. For example, staff wearing face masks and a reduction in the number of touch points. Technology will be very important in creating a connection between customers and a brand. Airline crews can engage with passengers through apps on their smartphones. The refreshment trolley can be replaced by a system that allows passengers to order and pay in advance.
The definition of the flight experience will continue to evolve as more touchless technology is introduced. Biometrics (facial recognition) will allow passengers to move through the airport without needing to produce passports and boarding passes. Passengers should be trusting in science. Surveys say that the risk of inflight transmission of infection is very small.
People feel less anxious if they are in control of everything around them. Touchless technology, and information delivered through smartphones will give passengers more control over their journeys. But there are other elements of the journey that need to be addressed including passengers’ need for space.
Personal Passenger Comfort Post COVID-19
The Passenger Confidence Tracker also revealed a popular desire for more space in the cabin. Many passengers are still keen to keep a social distance from those around them. Delta is responding to this need by continuing to block middle in Economy. At the other end of the scale is an emerging trend, the Pure Sky Room. Passengers can enjoy the luxury of their own space surrounded by wall to ceiling curtaining.
Inflight WiFi will also be more important to the enjoyment of a flight. There has been a large increase in the number of passengers using WiFi on flights during the COVID pandemic. Social distancing and mandatory face masks have limited the opportunity to socialise during a flight. Passengers will be more reliant on personal devices for entertainment.
It seems we are looking at a passenger-led recovery in the aviation industry. Do you agree? Post your views in the comments.