The global SITA / Air Transport World Passenger Self-Service survey of seven of the world’s leading airports found that there are great opportunities for growth in online booking and self-service check-in rates at Russia’s busiest airport, Domodedovo International, Moscow.

The slow uptake of online booking in Russia is partly explained by the fact that 62% of those interviewed in Moscow were business travellers whose travel arrangements were made mostly through corporate travel agents (45%) and personal assistants (27%).

Online booking is near its full potential in many regions around the world. Globally, 84% of interviewed passengers book their flights online when making their own travel arrangements and on average, the availability of online booking is the third most important consideration when arranging a trip.

The survey found that 45% of Moscow travellers have experience of using online booking at some point. However, on the day of the survey, only 15% had booked their flight online, out of the 33% who knew that it was available. This means that among passengers who knew that online booking was available, less than half used it.

Among passengers interviewed at Domodedovo International, 57% stated that self-service check-in was not available for their flight which is linked to the fact that only 23 of the 76 airlines flying from Domededovo currently offer self-service check-in. In addition to the need for more availability, the survey results point to a need to communicate more widely the option of self-service check-in to ensure passengers are aware of existing services and new capability as, and when, it is introduced.

Among the 27% of interviewed passengers who knew that self-service check-in was available for their particular flight, just 14% actually used it. This means that among passengers who knew that self-service check-in was available the usage rate was 53% compared with a global rate of 67%.

While globally, the main reason for not using self-service check-in in 47% of cases was that the traveller had bags to check-in, in Moscow the main reason was a preference for the human interface among the largely male, business travelling public. Many also felt that they received preferential treatment at the desk.

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.

Alongside Moscow’s Domodedovo International, the survey includes Beijing International, Frankfurt, Hartsfield-Jackson, Atlanta, Mumbai International, OR Tambo Airport, Johannesburg and Sao Paulo Guarulhos, Brazil.

Boris Padovan, SITA regional vice-president, East and Central Europe, said: “There are positive signs of growth in self-service check-in but clearly there are great opportunities to increase availability and awareness. Passengers who experience online booking and self-service check-in are usually keen to repeat the experience.”

This year the survey examined again the issue of off-airport check-in and bag drop-off. The percentage of those interested rose from 60% last year to 75% globally. This growth in interest was also recorded in Moscow where it rose from 53% to 65%. Overall only 34% would be interested in paying for such a service and the highest resistance to paying for such services was recorded in Moscow at 72%.

While a significant percentage (29%) of Moscow travellers are undecided on whether or not they would prefer an electronic boarding pass, just over 63% prefer a paper boarding pass.

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%).