Beijing International airport

The number of smartphone users at Beijing International Airport in Beijing, China, has doubled in the last 12 months, thanks to the growing popularity of the internet, kiosks and mobile check-ins, according to a new survey by SITA. SITA surveyed a sample size of 283.5 million passengers who pass through six of the world’s leading airports. The survey was conducted to find out about the rising influence of smartphones.

SITA China director David Fu said that the study showed that smartphones are leading to an increasing level of sophistication in Chinese travellers’ use of self-service functionality.

"We have seen a slight decline in the percentage of passengers with bags using counter check-in, and there is a clear demand for self-service across a range of bag-management options," Fu said. "Another interesting feature of this survey is the increasing popularity of airline websites for non-air offers."

According to the 2011 SITA/Air Transport World Passenger Self-Service Survey, approximately 44% of surveyed passengers carried smartphones in 2011, while 20% carried smartphones in 2010. Approximately 92% of respondents used a free airport WiFi network, with 8% willing to pay for it, while 50% carried a regular mobile phone.

While 67% of smartphone users were interested to know about gate changes, flight delays and boarding status, 32% wanted to know about the time to reach the departure gate. 28% wanted information about waiting times at security, 18% wanted to know the nearest lounge location, and 21% wanted information about airport parking.

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SITA said that 34% of passengers receive SMS notifications of flight information, and that 51% of frequent flyers had signed up for this service. Approximately 72% of users prefer kiosk check-ins, 56% use online check-in, 34% use self-boarding and 22% use mobile check-in facilities.

The survey had also found that 63% of users were interested in a self-boarding option, 55% in a self-service bag drop, 52% want to track their bag location and 56% want to tag their own bag. 49% used their phones to report a missing bag from a kiosk and 49% to transfer kiosks.

Caption: The number of smartphone users at Beijing International Airport doubled during the last 12 months. Credit: Yaoleilei