The Inmarsat Airline Passenger Confidence Survey

Today, 10 November, Inmarsat Aviation (Inmarsat) releases the results of their Passenger Confidence Survey. The biggest airline passenger confidence survey to be undertaken.  It predicts dramatic changes in travel habits as a result of COVID-19.

Passenger Confidence Survey Commissioned by Inmarsat

The Passenger Confidence Tracker is the largest global survey of air passengers that has been undertaken since the pandemic began at the end of 2019.  9,500 air travellers from twelve countries took part in this survey.  There is no doubt that once the COVID-19 pandemic is over we will see long-term, drastic changes in flying habits.

This study revealed a significant difference across the world in in relation to passengers’ confidence about flying during and post-pandemic.  But, overall, eight out of ten air passengers said their travel habits will change due to COVID-19.

Biometric Self-Boarding Gates
Biometric Self-Boarding Gates © British Airways

The Results of the Passenger Confidence Survey

Some key findings include:

  • Only a third (34%) have taken a commercial flight since the pandemic began
  • 4 in 10 (41%) expect to travel less by any means and a third (31%) plan to fly less
  • Almost half (47%) of passengers globally expect to feel ready to fly within the next six months

The study reveals significant differences in passenger confidence depending on the country they live in.  Most of those who have flown since the pandemic began came from Hungary and the UK.  South Korean passengers showed a reluctance to fly before a vaccine has been found.  An intention to travel less by any means was highest among Asian passengers with 58% in India and 55% in South Korea.

These findings correlate to levels of public concern about COVID-19. For example, South Koreans and Singaporeans are twice as likely to describe their behaviour in relation to the virus as ‘highly cautious’ than Britons.

But overall the majority (60%) said they were confident in the manner in which the aviation industry was responding to the challenges of COVID-19.  However, there are areas that require work to encourage more passengers back in the air.

Mototok Pushes Back an Aircraft at Heathrow
Mototok Pushes Back an Aircraft at Heathrow © British Airways

Conclusions Drawn From the Passenger Confidence Survey

Safety and reputation are even more important now.  Almost half of passengers taking part (44%) indicated that reputation would now be more important when choosing an airline than it was pre-pandemic.  Improving the inflight experience is one way to achieve this. The survey showed that extra legroom, free baggage and value added services were of increasing importance to a significant number of passengers.

An area that will play an important role in encouraging the return of passengers is digitalisation.  Reducing staff/customer contact is vital.  Passengers are more worried about contracting the virus while abroad than they are about travelling on a plane.  Some think certain environments pose a greater risk for example gymnasiums and local public transport.

Passenger confidence has grown with the introduction of automated systems during check-in and boarding processes.  But they are not so comfortable using inflight toilets and being in close proximity to other passengers. Areas that can be addressed.

The research highlights that improving inflight experience is one way to achieve this. From extra legroom (43%) to free baggage (39%), value added services are becoming increasingly important to passengers returning to the skies.

A total lack of confidence in quarantine restrictions was also apparent from the survey results.  There is, instead, a marked preference for consistent measures ensuring a safe journey.  These include mandatory face coverings and reliable pre-flight testing.

WiFi on Board
WiFi on Board © Nick Morrish via British Airways

The Way Forward

On board Wi-Fi matters more today than ever before particularly for Indian and Brazilian passengers.  Cabin connectivity enables destination status alerts, real time luggage tracking and pre-clearing immigration on the plane.  These are new aspects of the journey that passengers will want to experience post-pandemic.

Inmarsat is transforming the global aviation industry by bringing complete connectivity to every aircraft and flight path in the world.  Passengers can browse the internet, stream videos, check social media and more during flights, with an on board connectivity experience on a par with broadband services available on the ground.

Explore the Passenger Confidence Tracker in greater detail later today (10 November, 14.30 GMT) at FlightPlan, the aviation industry’s largest virtual convening, hosted by Inmarsat and the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX). To find out more, register here.

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