Complex Made Simple

97 per cent of UAE passengers see technology as answer to stress-free travel

Nearly all passengers surveyed believe new airport technologies can improve their flight experience by reducing stress

A survey conducted by Honeywell (NYSE: HON) in the United Arab Emirates reveals air travel passengers are relying on new airport and in-flight technologies for a smarter, stress-free travel experience.

The survey highlights the importance of technology in making air travel easier for passengers at every stage of flight, from check-in to baggage claim. With passenger numbers in the Middle East region expected to rise threefold by 2020 according to the International Air Transport Association, the survey reveals ways in which the latest airport and aircraft innovations are being used by passengers to beat congestion, minimize stress, save time and stay connected.

Honeywell’s survey finds that while there is a consensus among UAE passengers (94 percent) that airports and airlines have taken the right steps to improve punctuality and minimize delays over the past 10 years, many feel there is still more to be done. Looking ahead, nearly half of travelers (47 percent) believe improving the speed and efficiency of flights should be the industry’s top investment priority.

“Efficiencies inside the terminal and on board the aircraft are crucial to passengers’ perception of air travel in the UAE,” said Norm Gilsdorf, president of Middle East, Russia and Central Asia, Honeywell. “With more people traveling through the region every year, this survey shows airports and airlines can increase customer satisfaction even further by investing in technology to minimize disruptions and stress, and create a smarter travel experience for passengers.”

Smooth flying through check-in
According to the survey, the majority of passengers are taking advantage of new technologies to help them check in quickly and move through security more efficiently. E-boarding passes, e-tickets and luggage location tracking are top of mind when it comes to improving time spent at the airport, with almost all passengers surveyed (97 percent) agreeing that such systems reduce stress levels.

This reliance on technology is reflected in the demand for Honeywell’s radio frequency identification baggage tag printers and other scanning solutions, which are used in self-service kiosks to ensure passengers collect their baggage on time at the right destination.

These types of efficiencies mean travelers have more time to enjoy a leisurely experience at the terminal, such as shopping and dining, before heading for the gate. Over half of those polled (56 percent) said they spent more time using amenities during their last airport visit than they spent going through security and queuing for baggage check combined.

With an increasing number of passengers moving through the region’s airports, and spending longer in shops and restaurants, Honeywell’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, as well as lighting, security and zonal fire safety solutions, ensure that they feel comfortable and that their safety is maximized at all times.

Technology takes off
Once on the aircraft, passengers continue to look for ways to improve their flight experience. Although Wi-Fi is still an emerging technology across large parts of the aviation industry, passengers are increasingly considering it an essential travel tool. Three-quarters of those polled (75 percent) said they would substitute at least one in-flight extra such as pre-bookable seats or free in-flight meals for fast, reliable and free Wi-Fi on board. Interest in such a service suggests people want a smarter and seamless way to travel, without the inconvenience of losing their connection with friends, family or work.

Thanks to an agreement between Honeywell and Inmarsat, passengers will soon be able to browse on their smartphones, tablet devices and laptops when in the air over both land and sea, at the same speed and quality as they would expect at home. Honeywell is exclusively providing the airplane hardware for Inmarsat’s GX Aviation global high-speed, in-flight connectivity service, which is scheduled to come online in late 2015 and is capable of delivering up to 50MB per second broadband to the aircraft.

Approaching final destination
The survey also reveals the significant impact of delays on passengers’ travel experiences. Flight delays, diversions and cancellations significantly influence passengers’ perception of airlines with almost a quarter (23 percent) saying they would not consider traveling with the same airline again after experiencing delays. The most dissatisfied group was young travelers between 25 and 29 years old, among whom 29 percent said they would not consider flying with the same airline in the future.

Honeywell offers operators numerous systems that can improve on-time arrivals in the Middle East’s heavily congested airspace, with innovations such as Honeywell’s SmartPath Ground-Based Augmentation System, which enables aircraft to make more takeoffs and landings with greater efficiency and better mitigate weather-related delays. Meanwhile, on the aircraft Honeywell’s next-generation Flight Management Systems offer pilots more efficient routing and reduced workload.

Passengers can experience reduced taxi time by up to two minutes and travel with lower fuel consumption and emissions with the EGTS taxiing system, Honeywell’s joint venture with Safran. When EGTS comes to market in the next few years, an aircraft will be able to use electrical power to taxi, enabling it to push back from the gate and taxi autonomously without using its main engines.