MIAMI — Airports are turning to technology to help improve the passenger experience by delivering a fast and smooth journey for travelers, according to a new report from air transport IT provider SITA.

Most airports, said the report, are dealing with three business imperatives: improving the passenger experience; optimizing operational processes; and improving the commercial and financial performance. And airports have to do this against a backdrop of increasing air traffic, increasing complexity within the airport ecosystem and increasing passenger expectations.

In order to understand what is expected from a travel experience, SITA polls passengers on their opinions and habits. It found that nearly 75 percent of travelers are generally happy with their experience. But half want improvement and 25 percent have major levels of dissatisfaction with their airport experience.  Other findings include:

  • An extra 10 minutes spent in a security queue reduces, on average, a passenger’s retail spend by 30 percent;
  • Self-service kiosks can lead to a 25 percent increase in the speed of passenger processing and generate average savings per kiosk check-in of $2.50; and
  • More than 70 percent of the top 50 airports have investment plans for cloud and geo-location technologies by 2017

SITA looked at five airports around the world who are using technology to improve the passenger experience. Miami International Airport is the first in the world to have a complete and open deployment of beacons that broadcast identifiers in zones. The beacons can be used by airlines, retailers and other partners’ apps to trigger useful content to passengers and staff.


Orlando International Airport was the first to offer international travelers from visa-waiver countries the option to land, touch and go using SITA’s automated passport kiosks to self-process for faster U.S. border clearance. The kiosks significantly reduce the time it takes to get through Customs.

Australia’s Melbourne Airport now uses SITA’s self-service units that allows passengers to tag and drop their own luggage in a process that takes less than 30 seconds. Airports Authority of India has installed Common Use Self-Service units in 25 airports across the country that allow travelers to check in quickly and easily.

And Copenhagen Airport in Denmark partnered with SITA and Cisco to launch the world’s first augmented reality app, using Wi-Fi positioning data. It helps the airport track passenger flow, which allows it to determine the right level of staff needed for travelers. It also helps the airport monitor passenger movements from incoming flights so staff can be positioned in the clearance and customs areas.