Passengers want more airport machines, says survey

A new survey has shown that travelers are overwhelmingly seeking to look after themselves while traveling instead of relying on manned security desks and boarding gates.

The study, conducted by interviewing over 2,000 passengers at seven international airports, revealed that 70 percent of respondents wanted self-service options for more steps of their jouney.

Airport technology firm SITA, which conducted the study, said that as online booking and check-in were reaching their "full potential," passenger demand for new automated functions such as security checks and boarding gates was beginning to rise.

Two thirds of the respondents said that they would use kiosks for services such as booking/changing a flight, paying ancillary fees such as baggage supplements and meals, printing bag tags, processing a flight transfer and claiming delayed baggage.

SITA said that 74 percent of the respondents had booked their flights online when making their own arrangements and almost a quarter had checked in on a mobile phone at least once (although only three percent had on the day of the survey).

If the pace of recent developments is taken as an indicator, it appears that the high passenger acceptance of self-service options means that we can expect to see more electronic kiosks at airports - and fewer staff.

Bermuda's LF Wade International recently debuted a new system that allows customers to locate their lost luggage without waiting for a member of staff, and similar kiosks are set to debut in the US this year.

At Manchester Airport, new "smart" gates are used instead of traditional metal detector archways, which are capable of automatically clearing a passenger or directing them to one of the airport's controversial body scanners.

In 2008, Zurich international Airport deployed the world's first totally automated bag-drop service, allowing customers from multiple airlines to drop their bags in one place and reducing the average bag-drop time to 30 seconds.