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Tech-savvy Chinese air travellers champion carbon off-setting and self-service

Tech-savvy Chinese air travellers champion carbon off-setting and self-service

The global SITA/Air Transport World Passenger Self-Service survey of the world’s leading airports includes Beijing International Airport for the first time this year and reveals the Chinese traveller to be one of the world’s most environmentally conscious and an enthusiastic user of self-service technology.

Passengers interviewed at Beijing and Atlanta, the two largest airports in the survey, were the most frequent users of online booking, and for Chinese passengers, after price, the ability to book online is the second most important consideration when arranging a trip.

At 35%, Beijing travellers came second only to Mumbai (44%) as champions of carbon offsetting in their use of airline websites for this purpose.

The 5th annual SITA/Air Transport World Passenger Self-Service Survey is an in-depth look at the attitudes and habits of a representative sample of the 287.6 million passengers who use seven leading international airports.

It includes previous survey participants: Hartsfield-Jackson, Atlanta; Mumbai International; Moscow Domodedovo; Sao Paulo Guarulhos, Brazil; and OR Tambo Airport, Johannesburg. China’s Beijing International Airport which served 65.3 million passengers last year, along with Germany’s busiest airport, Frankfurt, which had 50.9 million passengers in 2009, are two new survey entrants this year.


More than any other nationality, Chinese travellers (64%) would prefer to have an electronic boarding pass, and while only 3% of all passengers surveyed had checked in by mobile phone for the flight they were about to take, in Beijing the percentage jumped to 7%. Beijing International Airport is one of the few international airport hubs where mobile boarding passes are fully implemented.

Close to half of all survey respondents who checked in at a desk rather than online or through a kiosk, did so because of the need to check in a bag. Bags to check in are a major drawback of online check-in for 55% of Beijing passengers and this was the main reason for choosing agent check-in for 59% of those in Beijing who did so.

On the other hand, there is a very positive attitude among Beijing travellers towards self-printing of bag tags from airport kiosks; 72% of respondents would be prepared to do so and bag tagging is now available to Air China passengers at Beijing International Airport.

At 79%, Beijing travellers also expressed a high degree of interest in off-airport bag drop-off and 52% would be prepared to pay for such a service. There would also be a high demand (76%) for baggage claim kiosks at Beijing. Globally, two-thirds of respondents would use a kiosk to claim a lost bag.

David Fu, SITA Director for China, said: “Passengers in Beijing are leading the way across Asia in the adoption of self-service technology to smooth the passenger journey. There is a remarkable awareness of the benefits, and rapid take-up, of all self-service options.

“Chinese passengers are very comfortable with a variety of options including online, kiosk and mobile check-in. In the future, we expect to see greater growth in the use of Chinese airline websites to book hotels, rent cars, purchase travel insurance and other ancillary services.”

The survey data is extracted from interviews with 2,490 passengers travelling on 106 airlines, conducted at the departure gates earlier this year. Main nationalities interviewed were American, 17%; Indian, 12%; Chinese, 12%; Brazilian, 11%; German, 8%; South African, 8%;  Russian, 7%; and others, 25%.