The growing popularity of web, kiosk and mobile check-in has helped trigger a steep rise in passenger self-service check-in at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai over the last 12 months, up from 36% on the day of the survey in 2010 to 65% this year.

The 2011 SITA / air transport world passenger self-service survey found that the web check-in rate was higher in Mumbai than at any of the other airports included in the survey. At Mumbai, 70% of passengers said they use it occasionally or frequently compared to a global average of 65%.

Mumbai passengers also have the highest user rates across several self-service options and the demand was high for new services, according to this year’s survey which also found that the mobile phone is now an integral part of the passenger experience in India.

A total of 98% of Mumbai survey respondents were carrying either a mobile phone (56%) or a smartphone (42%). Smartphones are most popular with 66% of first / business class respondents and 44% of frequent flyers (ten or more trips per year) and is fuelling a high demand for self-service options and Wi-Fi access. The Blackberry was the choice for 48% of those carrying a smartphone.

The rising influence of the smartphone is a key finding from the 6th annual SITA/ air transport world passenger self-service survey carried out with a representative sample of the 283.5 million passengers who pass through six of the world’s leading airport hubs, including Abu Dhabi International Airport, Beijing International Airport; Frankfurt International Airport; Hartsfield-Jackson, Atlanta; Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai; and São Paulo Guarulhos International Airport.

The majority of smartphone carriers, 80%, would like to connect to a free airport Wi-Fi network while 38% would be willing to pay for access compared to 10% globally. Services that are of particular interest to Mumbai smartphone carriers are: information on gate changes, flight delays and boarding status, 78%; time to reach departure gate, 25%; location of nearest lounge, 23%; wait times at security, 15%; and information on airport parking, 7%.

There is a high demand also for SMS notifications of flight information; 68% of frequent flyers have already signed up for such services. Among all passengers carrying a mobile device, 48% already receive SMS notifications and a further 46% would like to receive them. At 30%, there is also above average interest in Mumbai in receiving shopping deals on mobile devices; the global interest is just 19%.

At 63%, online booking was the most popular form of booking among Mumbai passengers compared to a global rate of 57%. Online travel agencies were used by 59% of those who booked online. Airline websites accounted for 34% of this online traffic and among these survey respondents there was much higher usage rate of airline websites for non-air offers than at any other airport in the survey.

Actual usage rates of airline websites for non-air offers among Mumbai passengers are as follows with the global figures in brackets:

  • Modify reservation, 68%, (45%)
  • Purchase preferred seating, 64%, (30%)
  • Book a hotel room, 26%, (25%)
  • Rent / hire a car, 21%, (19%)
  • Book a vacation, 36%, (12%)
  • Buy products and gifts, 23%, (12%)
  • Purchase additional transportation, 31%, (8%)

Meenakshi Agrawal, vice president – IT, Mumbai International Airport Pvt Ltd, said: "This year’s survey shows that passengers really appreciate the degree of self-service which the airport and the airlines have made available to them over the last year. Our strategy around passenger facilitation has been validated and we have gained a very useful insight into how this might evolve in the future."

Mr Vikram Sethi, vice president and head of terminal operations, Mumbai International Airport Pvt Ltd, who is a key driver of the self-service strategy, said: "The key aspect was understanding passenger perceptions and placing self check-in kiosks at locations where passengers found it convenient to access them. The next step was to provide bag drops adjacent to self check-in kiosks and we then saw a significant increase in usage.

"There will be a further increase in offsite check-in / self check-in as the government requirement for airlines to stamp boarding cards generated from kiosks is being discontinued and airlines will have to conduct identity checks at the boarding gate. MIAL has a target of increasing common use self service (CUSS) usage to 30% this year, from the 20% of passengers who use self check-in facilities at the moment."

Maneesh Jaikrishna, SITA country director for India and Subcontinent, said: "It is great to see that the investment in passenger facilitation made by Mumbai International Airport and its customer airlines is paying off so dramatically. It is now one of the most efficient airports in Asia when it comes to passenger self-service and the travelling public clearly wants to have more control over the different steps of the journey. This is good news for everyone."