The Future is Mobile for Airline Passengers

London | Consumers are itching to embrace mobile payments to purchase airline tickets, according to the global Perfect Passenger Payment insights report, commissioned by WorldPay.

6% of consumers have used mobile payments to purchase a flight in the last 12 months but 50% would use a mobile device to purchase airline tickets now if they could, and 62% expect this to be an option available to them in the future. 56% of consumers already travel with a smartphone or tablet device, and airline passengers are keen to embrace mobile devices during their airport-to-flight experience, with 61% wishing to use a mobile or tablet device to check-in.

The global study of 4,500 consumers from the UK, US, China, Japan, Brazil, Finland, Spain, Germany, France, and 51 airline merchants including low cost, regional and global carriers explored the consumer expectations and payment experience when purchasing a ticket online.

Key findings from the Perfect Passenger Payment Report:

  • Hidden surcharges – The UK has the highest number of consumers most likely to be presented with hidden surcharges during the payment process that had not been made clear at the outset (41%); the lowest was in Japan (8%)
  • Payment type – Chinese consumers are the most advanced in using mobile payments; 34% have used a mobile device to purchase a flight in the last 12 months. eWallets are also popular in China (50%). On average, the highest percentage of consumers (68%) uses a personal credit card to purchase a ticket. UK consumers are most likely to use a debit card (61% compared to 56% for credit)
  • Payment charges – 80% of consumers think it is unfair to be charged to use their preferred method of payment, particularly those who favour eWallets (87%), direct debits (86%) and debit cards (84%)
  • Speed of purchase – The average customer takes 25 minutes to complete an airline ticket payment purchase. The fastest is in Japan (20 minutes) and the slowest in Brazil (32 minutes) 33% of consumers claim the process was faster than they expected
Phil McGriskin, chief product officer, WorldPay commented: “Consumers are increasingly embracing technology such as smartphones and tablets to purchase goods and services online and this report shows that there is a demand for among customers to be able to purchase airline tickets using mobile technology. Currently only a small percentage of airlines offer mobile payments to their customers but a high percentage of customers, particularly frequent flyers, would like the option to be made available. As more airlines embrace mobile technology for other parts of the airport-to-flight experience, we expect this to be extended to the payment process.”

Surcharge transparency is one of the biggest issues for consumers. 28% felt they had been presented with ‘hidden’ charges but in fact 65% of customers said they would be prepared to pay a percentage of their flight cost towards surcharges. 3.8% of their fare was the global average consumers would be prepared to pay.

Phil McGriskin, chief product officer, WorldPay concludes: “The vast majority of consumers accept that surcharges are unavoidable and are in fact willing to pay a certain percentage of their flight costs towards covering these charges. The main concern is transparency.”

UK consumers are the most cautious when it comes to speed over security. Only 19% would prefer a faster payment process with less security questions compared to 66% of consumers in China. 1 in 10 consumers have had an online payment declined when purchasing an airline ticket, with 42% saying the reason why it was declined was not made clear to them.

UK Country Fact File:

  • 75% of UK consumers bought airline tickets direct through an airline website over the last 12 months
  • Over the last 12 months, 59% of consumers bought tickets through budget airlines, 58% through traditional airlines and 20% through package airlines
  • The average time taken by UK customers to complete the online payment process is 26 minutes
  • 41% of UK customers have experienced some form of ‘hidden’ surcharges over the last 12 months
  • On average UK consumers are prepared to pay 4.57% in the form of surcharges

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The Perfect Passenger Payments survey was commissioned by WorldPay and created by Loudhouse in February 2012. The survey was conducted among two sets of respondents: consumers and merchants. The consumer sample comprised 4500 consumers who purchased an airline ticket online within the last 12 months via an online survey. This sample included a range of ages, flyer frequency and type of airline used. The merchants sample was made up of 51 airline decision makers who hold responsibility for the online payment process of their airline, and conducted via an online survey.

About WorldPay

WorldPay is a leading global provider of payment and risk services, processing millions of transactions every day. WorldPay is a unification of seven leading retail payment solutions and offers a range of services including acquiring, gateway, alternative payments, risk management, and mobile payments. WorldPay became an independent company in December 2010.

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