95% of air travelers don’t use mobile for check in, booking, or other services

It’s rare to see a mobile usage survey that’s based on a representative sample of global travelers, but the annual SITA/Air Transport World Passenger IT Trends Survey is precisely that — a statistically valid representation of the 299 million passengers who pass through the world’s half-dozen largest airports.

This year’s survey finds that airlines and airports still aren’t seeing a payoff in mobile services.

Three out of every four passengers carry a smartphone, yet fewer than 5% of them use mobile devices to access check-in, booking, and other air travel services, says SITA (Societe Internationale de Telecommunications Aeronautiques), the industry consortium.


Airlines and airports might be better off investing in information services via mobile devices, given that 63% of global travelers say they would use their mobile for flight search and 58% to check flight status.

In the meantime, the industry might be advised to continue running a multi-channel strategy for other services, such as booking by mobile device — which passengers on average worldwide aren’t interested in yet.

Mobile is not the passengers’ first choice for check-in, either. The survey showed a strong preference instead for using kiosks and notebook/desktop computers to handle such tasks.


The survey included a mix of 2,489 passengers from more than 70 countries who recently passed through Abu Dhabi, Beijing, Mumbai, Frankfurt, Sao Paulo, and Atlanta.

One critique of the survey is that by focusing on worldwide averages, it misses the trends in the early adopter markets that could predict the future for everyone.

That said, the industry probably can agree that mobile penetration rates for its apps, mobile websites, and other mobile services leaves a lot to be desired.

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Sean O'Neill

About the Writer :: Sean O'Neill

Sean O’Neill had roles as a reporter and editor-in-chief at Tnooz between July 2012 and January 2017.



  1. Thomas Crook


    First, thanks for the excellent reporting. It’s far too common for news outlets to report on and even conduct surveys with serious sampling flaws. Worse, many reporters either don’t know or care enough to point out such issues, leading many readers to draw erroneous conclusions about the population of interest.

    I agree that studying early adopters would be a good idea. Mobile is evolving so quickly that a combination of factors including more usable apps, better support infrastructure and increased user awareness could change usage patterns very quickly.

  2. Stuart Lodge

    Interesting article Sean. Might be stating the bleeding obvious here, but in my experience people like to print off their booking confirmations and itineraries before they go to the airport (call it the Ryanair effect). Boarding cards printoff preferrable at home, if not at the kiosk. But pax do need a printer. Most printers are attached to their work or home computers. Not their tablets or mobiles ie PC and laptop is going to come out higher in the results?

    Also think one of the reasons apps haven’t massively taken off, is how easy it is to run out of juice on a smartphone. Specially on the inbound leg (or an older phone)

    Food for thought



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