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Tech's in air, boosts passengers' joy and airlines' biz

By Zhu Wenqian | China Daily | Updated: 2019-04-01 09:34
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Passengers use Wi-Fi services to surf internet on mobile gadgets on a flight of China Eastern Airlines. [Photo by Liu Xin/For China Daily]

As a business journalist, I do travel quite a bit. I am a lot more happier at the beginning of a trip these days. My mind floats in clouds, takes off for a joyful flight, not just because of my "newly-married" status. Part of the reason is also technology.

Whenever it's possible, I use self-operated machines at airports. They speed up the drill: check-in, passport check, boarding ... Efficiency ensues, turnarounds quicken, and my happiness quotient surges.

At most airports, the passport verification area tends to be a pain point. But, ever since self-scanning gates were introduced, passengers are 3.85 percent more satisfied, compared to those using agent-assisted services, according to a report released in February by SITA, a Swiss information technology company that provides services to the air transport industry.

SITA found that last year, 44 percent of global airline passengers used automated technology for passport checks, which doubled the rate recorded in 2017. SITA surveyed passengers from 20 countries for its report.

"One of the standout findings of our report this year is that at every point in the journey, where passengers use technology, the rate of satisfaction is higher," said Matthys Serfontein, president of air travel solutions of SITA.

Passengers always look to make their journey as easy as possible. Mobile phone is their top choice for the device they want to use during their journey.

Like most other people, mobile phone has become part and parcel of my life. Every time I travel, my mobile phone proves to be a big help in smooth, automated check-in at airports. I can't wait to use it even when air borne, thanks to in-flight Wi-Fi services that many global airlines offer now.

Last year, when I flew from Beijing to Texas on American Airlines, I connected my phone to the in-flight Wi-Fi service. There are several price options for flyers. An hour of Wi-Fi usage costs about $10, and an unlimited Wi-Fi connection costs around $18. I chose the unlimited one.

Thanks to the Wi-Fi connection, a wider range of entertainment was at my fingertips. It was a long flight alright, but time just flew. Long-haul flights need not be a torture anymore.

When the plane was flying over the Arctic, the Wi-Fi connection became unstable and weaker. Why, the internet access was lost altogether for a while.

At other times, I was able to enjoy stable Wi-Fi as if I was at home or office. Using an instant-messaging app, I chatted online with my family and friends. I also read news, and had fun with some apps.

After that memorable flight, I have always preferred airlines that offer in-flight Wi-Fi, more so on long-haul flights.

SITA's Serfontein said: "Airlines and airports see that the benefit of their technology investments is they make life easier for passengers every step of the way."

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