The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced the results of its 2021 Global Passenger Survey (GPS), and the conclusions are interesting. The primary findings are that:

  • Passengers want to use biometric identification if it expedites travel processes.
  • Passengers want to spend less time queuing (standing in line) at the airport.

“Passengers have spoken and want technology to work harder, so they spend less time ‘being processed’ or standing in queues. They are willing to use biometric data if it delivers this result. Before traffic ramps-up, we have a window of opportunity to ensure a smooth return to travel post-COVID-19 pandemic and deliver long-term efficiency improvements for passengers, airlines, airports, and governments,” said Nick Careen, IATA’s Senior Vice President for Operations, Safety and Security.

Passengers’ priorities for improving airport processes

The 2021 GPS results provide a clear picture of what airline passengers consider the most pressing needs for improving airport processing. For example:

  • 73% of passengers are willing to share their biometric data to improve airport processes (up from 46% in 2019).
  • 55% of passengers say queuing at boarding is a top area for improvement.
  • 41% of passengers identified queuing at security screening as a top priority for improvement.
  • 38% of passengers believe queuing time at border control / immigration is a top area for improvement. In fact, 88% of respondents said they will share immigration information prior to departure if it expedites processing.

Passengers believe in biometrics but have concerns

Survey respondents seem to understand the advantages of using biometrics in several airport passenger processes. Even so, they have concerns and questions about the use of biometrics. The 2021 GPS found that:

  • Just over a third of passengers (36%) have experienced the use of biometric data when traveling. Of that group, 86% were satisfied with the experience. 
  • On the other hand, more than half (56%) say they have concerns about data breaches.
  • Passengers also want clarity on who their data is being shared with (52%) and how it is used/processed (51%).

IATA says its GPS results are based on 13,579 participant responses from 186 countries. The complete survey analysis is available at .


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