By 2015 air travel will be vastly transformed due to innovations in information technology, a survey by the international communications and IT company SITA concludes.

SITA is the acronym for Société International de Télécommunications Aéronautiques, an international consortium of airlines, airports, governments and related services that is based in Geneva. The U.S. headquarters is in Atlanta.

Released on Feb. 11, the report titled “Flying into the Future” claims that over the next three years airlines, airports and passengers will all experience a major transformation in the way passengers buy travel services.

The report cites four major trends that are to shape the future of air travel: increasing importance of the Internet and mobile phones; greater passenger control; evolution of customer service and improved business intelligence.

“Information technology has already had a major influence on air travel,” Nigel Pickford, director of market insight at SITA,” said in a news release. “And with the number of global travelers expected to double by 2030, it will continue to lead the way for the industry.”

According to the report, Alaska Airlines Inc. is one of several airlines that already have developed a travel application that alerts fliers to airfare deals from their hometowns and to their favorite destination cities.

By 2015, the report also says, 90 percent of airlines will offer mobile check-in, up from 50 percent today.

Passengers also will be using Near Field Communications (NFC) technology to board flights, fast-track security zones and access premium passenger lounges.

Japan Airlines Co. Ltd.’s “touch and go” Android app is one example the report cites that allows passengers to pass through boarding gates using their NFC-enabled phones. France’s Toulouse-Blagnac Airport is piloting a similar service.

The report says that by 2015 nine out of 10 airlines and airports will provide flight updates using smartphone apps.

At Japan’s Narita Airport, for instance, roaming service employees personalize the customer experience by using iPads to provide airport, flight and hotel information to passengers.

It also cites Edinburgh Airport in Scotland as one of several with apps that helps passengers plan their journeys to and from the airport, track their flights, access terminal maps and reserve parking spots before they arrive.

Airports will further be transformed by their increasing reliance on improved business intelligence to offer more personalized service.

Barcelona-based Vueling Airlines SA researches customer preferences on social media and integrates its findings into business retention programs. 

SITA was established in 1949 as a cooperative of 11 international airlines and now has 2,800 customers in 200 countries and territories.

To learn more about SITA, go to or send an email to Carrie Crabill.