Boarding self-service take up lags in SA

A key part of a $34 million (about R251.6 million) check-in upgrade underway at ten ACSA airports is being under utilised as South African passengers shy away from self-service.
While online booking is rising steadily, the use of self-service check-in has fallen behind global rates – and indeed behind last year’s take-up, global aviation IT company SITA says.
While 94.2% of passengers using the country’s main international gateway, OR Tambo International Airport are aware of the availability of online booking, just 41% chose to use it, up from 37.4% last year but still behind the global weighted average of 63.7%.
Despite a 20% surge in the use of self-service check-in worldwide, there was a drop in Johannesburg where only 8.9% of passengers used the self-service check-in option. That is just above half the number that used the machine last year (15.2% of passengers).
SITA says this was in part due to changes in the airport layout and new positioning of self-service kiosks but almost one-third of passengers interviewed did not know if there was a self-service check-in option available for their flight.
The survey found that the number one reason for people not using the self-service check-in option in Johannesburg, when they knew it was available, was that they had bags to check-in (35.5%), closely followed by reasons like “habit, prefer the old way” (28.4%) and preference for “the human interface” (18.7%).
While the proportion of passengers having checked-in on a kiosk the day of the interview remains stable compared to last year, there was a notable drop from 6.7% to 0.8% among those using Web check-in despite the fact that 40% of passengers had used online booking.
The trend emerged from the 4th annual SITA/Air Transport World Passenger Self-Service (PSS) Survey, an in-depth look at the attitudes and habits of a representative sample of the 232 million passengers who use six leading international airports: Hartsfield-Jackson, Atlanta; Mumbai International; Charles de Gaulle, Paris; Moscow Domodedovo; Sao Paulo Guarulhos, Brazil; and OR Tambo Airport.
The data was extracted from interviews with 2193 passengers conducted at the departure gates earlier this year. This was the second successive year that OR Tambo has been included in the survey.
SITA Regional Vice President for Africa, Khodr Akil says online booking will grow further in Johannesburg as awareness of its availability increases. “This is good for the future of self-service check-in as experience tells us that on-line bookers are almost three times more likely to use it. We are confident that self-service check-in will grow in South Africa.”
“Johannesburg’s OR Tambo airport will benefit greatly from the check-in upgrade which SITA is carrying out across ten of the country’s airports.
This will be accompanied by a concerted effort to raise awareness among the travelling public about the advantages of self-service check-in options whether on kiosks or on the web.”
On a positive note, the survey does report that more passengers in Johannesburg are experienced in using self-service check-in options:
34.9% now report that they have used kiosk check-in at least once (up from 30.6% in 2008); and 18% reported having used web-check-in options at least once (up from 16.8% in 2008).
When asked about future use, the survey reports a growing positive attitude towards using self-service check-in options with 70% of the respondents being positive about using kiosks for check-in (up from 56% last year), and 43% have a positive attitude towards web-check-in (up from 38% last year).
Passengers flying on more than 100 different airlines and representing over 80 different nationalities were interviewed during April/June 2009 in this independent survey.