A new survey of more than 5,000 international frequent flyers reveals that over 90% of them experience a “world of frustration” at airport check-in, security and immigration.
According to the March 2012 survey, 91% of those questioned found slow progress through immigration ‘frustrating’ and 42% found the experience ‘extremely frustrating’.
Similarly, 91% found slow progress through security to be ‘frustrating’ overall and 43% finding it ‘extremely frustrating’ in the survey – carried out by independent lounge operator Priority Pass – which claims that speed is of the essence in today’s fast-paced working culture driven by new technologies.
While measures have been introduced to speed life up at the airport, 70% of the surveyed Priority Pass members found the term ‘Fast Bag Drop’ misleading.
And when asked what would improve travellers’ experiences at airports, a ‘fast track’ route through security was the top choice (cited by 33% of respondents), followed by free Wi-Fi (26%), friendlier staff (8%) and more seating (6%).
Of those who check-in early, 35% claim they do so because of the long delays in getting through security.
Jonathan French, head of brand, Priority Pass, says: “Everyone understands the need for greater security, but we are living amongst a generation of ‘instanity’ – we expect everything to happen right now and when it doesn’t, life, frustratingly, slows down.
“The ‘fast bag drop’ service was introduced so that fliers could check in online from their PC, or a self-service check-in desk, print their own boarding pass, then just drop their bag off at the ‘fast bag drop’ desk. Unfortunately, travellers are still experiencing long queues to do this.”
Airlines’ self-check-in machines stand out as conspicuous successes with travellers, with only 32% finding these facilities frustrating overall, while 68% overall say they are not frustrating at all.
Stripping down to the ‘bare essentials’ – having to remove shoes, belts and other items of clothing – at security was ‘frustrating’ overall for 67% of those surveyed, making the experience even more irritating than noisy families (voted for by 65%).
Lounges provide a relaxing haven
Once past check-in, security and immigration, the traveller’s lot is considerably better, the survey reveals. For 47% of the respondents, time spent in the airport lounge was their favourite aspect of their journey.
The survey showed that in an airport lounge, 65% usually spend their time eating, 60% spend their time drinking non-alcoholic beverages and 49% focus on work.
The quality of refreshments and comfort of seating areas were considered the most important features in an airport lounge, voted for by 24% and 23% respectively.
French comments: “Delays at airports are not going away, but new technologies and communication tools are emerging daily. In the US, trials have already begun for fast check-in for frequent business travellers.
“We believe that the airport lounge will continue to be an important part of people’s journeys by providing a welcome, productive, relaxing space for travellers to use.”
On the flight
Second to spending time in the airport lounge (48%), the flight itself was the next favourite aspect of frequent flyers’ journey, cited by 28% of people.
According to 35% of respondents, watching in-flight movies is the best aspect of a long-haul flight, followed by time to sleep (22%) and time to read (20%).
Travel to and from the airport was selected by only 5% as their favourite aspect of a journey.
The idea of inflight mobile phone usage remains largely unpopular, with only 17% saying they would be happy if fellow passengers were allowed to use mobiles in the air.