Priority Pass, the world’s largest independent airport VIP lounge access programme, has today released findings from a survey of over 5,000 international frequent flyers revealing more than 90% journey through a world of frustration at airport check-in, security and immigration.
In today’s fast-paced working culture driven by new technologies, Priority Pass says speed is of the essence for its business and leisure members. In the survey, conducted in March 2012, 91% of those questioned found slow progress through immigration ‘frustrating’. 42% alone found the experience ‘extremely frustrating’. Similarly, 91% found slow progress through security to be ‘frustrating’ overall, with 43% finding it ‘extremely’ so. 90% found slow check-in ‘frustrating’ overall, indicating that most journeys get off to a bad start.
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. 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: “This year marks the 20th anniversary of Priority Pass and we have seen airports and lounges undergo significant changes during the past two decades. 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 continues: “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 in-flight 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.
Promising travel trends
When asked about their travel frequency in the past 12 months, encouragingly, almost a third (30%) of respondents claimed their business travel had increased, while 53% said it had stayed the same. Just 17% said their business travel had decreased in the past year. Nearly a third (29%) said that their leisure travel has also increased in the period, while 59% said it had been unchanged. Only 12% said their leisure travel had decreased, a positive figure in the current economic climate.
Looking ahead, almost a third of respondents (28%) expect their business travel to increase over the next 12 months, while 29% expect an increase in their leisure travel. Supporting the view that economic recovery will be gradual, the majority of respondents (57%) expect their business travel to stay at the same level in the coming year, while 63% expect their leisure travel to remain unchanged. Pleasingly, however, only small minorities expect to see reductions in their business travel (15%) and leisure travel (8%).