Jetstar — Responsive Online Check-in
Research

Description
This report details our findings on customers’ experiences of checking in generally, and their attitudes and
awareness of online check-in. The objective is to gain insights that can inform the design of a check-in
experience that meets customer needs, increasing customer satisfaction and ultimately driving more
people to checking in through this channel.

Key drivers:
• Increase amount of customers checking in online before they get to the airport.
• Increase ancillary revenue by adding products to the check-in process (esp. bags and seats).
• Reduce costs (airport costs, call centre, tech maintenance costs).
• Improve NPS and customer satisfaction scores.

Background
Analysis of existing data provided a broad view of trends in checking-in behaviour regionally, and customer
pain-points in Australia. We were able to look at check-in data from 2013-Q1 2016 across all major regions - Australia and New Zealand (JQ), Japan (GK), Pacific (BL) and Asia (3K) - for both International and Domestic routes.

Check-in trends: Domestic
There is strong uptake of both kiosk and online check-in, but with regional differences.


The data indicates a steady decline in counter check-in in regions where kiosk and online check-in is available. Kiosks are popular, and growing in popularity and so too is online check-in (with mobile check-in growing the fastest, mirroring a general trend towards mobile for internet use globally).

Reported tendency for Asian markets to prefer a more hands on service from staff, who would assist during kiosk check-in (as mentioned by members of Jetstar when asked about this difference).

This would present specific challenges to switching customers to self-guided online check-in for this region, and this passenger-staff interaction to be more fully investigated.

Summary:
•Kiosks are popular, and growing in popularity.
•So too is online check-in (with mobile check-in growing the fastest).
•There is a significant bias to kiosk in GK Domestic ratios – and they prefer counter even with no bags.

Check-in trends: International
There is also growth in kiosk travel internationally, but not to the same extent as Domestic. A key limiting factor will be the amount of eligible routes and passengers for checking-in other than counter.

Online check-in is negligible for JQ - again likely an indication of less opportunities for passengers to check-in online. However, this could also reflect a weaker association of online check-in as an option for international travel, or any benefits of doing so - there is still the need for passengers to be processed at counters.

Summary:
•BL clearly waiting for more check-in channels.
•A recent small increase in kiosk (under 2%) use in BL International -an indication of a small roll-out in the region.

Customer complaints
3 types dominated: customers complaining they were unable to check-in online (33% customers), booking and pre-booking issues (27% - these were not investigated further as not related to checking in), and boarding pass issues (23%). 

Many of those unable to check-in were stopped by business or eligibility rules (23% of total customers). This is a high figure - there will always be eligibility rules but this shows that these are widespread and not being adequately conveyed to customers, who report confusion, missed flights and giving up on online check-in due to a loss of faith in the reliability of the process.

The boarding pass figure is anomalous, in that Q1 entailed some known technical issues with SMS (22 customer complaints), which bumped up the numbers: however this process failure, like the eligibility rules, will create a general lack of belief in the process which deters customers from checking in online.

Current flow known issues
Research goals
Current awareness of and attitudes to online check in
• What are customer preferences for checking in?
• What is the level of general awareness of online check-in as an option?

Identify any points of confusion or blockers
• Understand what can be done to simplify the process for passengers.

Identify any customer types needing special consideration
• Are there any behaviour patterns to understand and accommodate in our designs?
• Capture staff observations of trends to watch out for in future.

Test out initial design ideas with passengers
• Have passengers walk through the design flow, for early insights on improvements to the interface.

Research methodology
The team conducted observations and intercepts of passengers checking-in at International and Domestic terminals.

There followed in-depth interviews of passengers waiting at departure gates, with guerilla testing of initial design concepts for online check-in. 

Airport staff were also interviewed, for their perspective on current processes and opportunities for improvement.

At the terminals
Contextual observation and intercepts
Participants:
• 10 Domestic intercepts 7 with baggage, 3 without.
• 9 International intercepts 8 with baggage, 1 without.

Passengers were observed checking in at Sydney airport, at both Domestic and International terminals. Whilst queuing or waiting, or after checking-in via the kiosk, passengers were approached for short ‘intercepts’ - 3 minute interviews asking them about their check-in preferences, their experiences that day and general awareness and attitudes to online check-in, plus some basic background information. This length was chosen as people are typically short of time at this point in their journey.

At the departure gate
Customer interviews and guerilla testing
Participants:
• 5 Domestic gates interviews.
• 2 with baggage, 2 without, 1 unknown.
• 2 couples.
• 2 solo travellers.
• 1 parent and child (2 yr).

Longer format, semi-structured interviews with customers waiting at departure gate, gave us deeper insight into their experience. It helped to form a picture of their motivations, thoughts and experiences prior to and after the core checking in experience.

1) General observations
Domestic airport layout
Domestic gates offer a range of check-in options
Layout was 2 banks of kiosks, fielded by staff to assist. Counters were split into cordoned groups: Check-in and Bag-drop, with a single Closing flights desk for late arrivals.

What we found
Speaking to the staff, this layout had been a recent change, (to include bag-drop, and more heavily support kiosk use). This was to meet the expectation of travellers, who experienced this layout with JQ at Melbourne and elsewhere, as well as with airline competitors at Sydney.

Some confusion with people going into the wrong cordoned areas, or blocking the path when using kiosk. New layout a workaround using fixed kiosks.

Shown a marked decrease in processing time (2min to 30sec)

International airport layout
There was some confusion between the four possible routes to desks

Layout was 3 banks of kiosks, fielded by staff to assist. Counters were split into cordoned groups: Counter check-in, business check-in and a ‘fast-track’ web check-in counter.

What we found
Nobody used the web check-in counter (barring as an overflow from the counter check-in queue).
2) Check-in awareness and attitudes
Checking in preferences
There appears to be an unmet desire for online check-in at Domestic, the opposite holds true for International
Domestic:
• There appears to be a majority of domestic travellers whose preference is online check-in.
• People typically default to kiosk if they are unable to check-in.
• Bias towards kiosk participant group being approached, which will have biased the results. Further research could focus on those queueing for counter service to unearth their preferences.

International:
• A greater parity between expectation and reality: with counter being the predominant preference.
• This could indicate a lack of awareness of other channels, or lack of awareness of the benefit of online check-in at international terminals, making online check-in just another task to think.

Attitudes to online check-in
Customers can be split into two broad camps: Those that want to check-in online but can’t and those that do not want to full stop

A) Those who theoretically want to online check-in but haven’t
• Lack of consistency: Routes and Airports offer different check-in options so unsure where they stand.
• Ineligibility, with no communication of the reason.
• Technically blocked – attempted but couldn’t process.
• Perceived lack of time on the day.
• Attempted check-in too early.

B) Those who prefer not to online check-in
• Pay 3rd party travel agents to avoid this sort of thing.
• Lack of security around digital channels (criminal).
• Risk of breakdown, uncertainty around checking in unassisted.
• Previous poor experiences, directly or second-hand.
• Perceived additional task – why add effort to an already complicated plan? “Don’t think about it, I’m always rushed”.
• “I’m old”.

Email communication
Check-in information is typically lost amidst the comms
This indicates that customers access the online check-in a number of ways, but email comms is an important route. However the response to email comms is mixed.

The good: One pax received an email a week prior to departure, as a reminder. They thought this was good communication by Jetstar, as it gave them plenty of notice.

The bad: Two pax indicated they ignored comms coming from jetstar (after itinerary), deeming it unnecessary or in one instance thought it was all upselling marketing. The possible impact of this is Important information around times and information specific to their flight is lost.

Some observed customer types
Print-friendlies
In both intercepts and interviews, a strong theme was a customer type who wants to have physically printed papers in their hand, and do not want to rely on digital boarding passes or itineraries.
• Print itinerary at home, then check-in @ airport: Like to be prepared and ready before the big day.
• Online check-in and print (Boarding Pass) at kiosk: Comfortable online, but find paper more reassuring/easy to use on the day of departure.
• Generally like to have guidance via staff through the process, or mistrust of technology “dropping” at the last minute.
Early birds
We met several customers who were arriving at the airport early – sometimes before check-in has began.
• Older customers and family with infant: in both cases with an intent to “avoid the rush”.
• Were not aware of the check-in timings.
• No physical place to sit prior to check-in, remained in “no-mans land”.
Families, couples and small groups
Families have special concerns in and of themselves –they often prioritise avoiding ‘flash points’ with their children in tow. More broadly, what is lacking is the facility to treat passengers as they see themselves: A single unit and organiser. 
• There was a mixed response for online check-in preference for families with children: Some preferred online to minimize the wait time, whilst others preferred kiosk to “avoid the hassle” of trying to do this whilst packing.
• Ineligibility of infants for online check-in not communicated.
• Sharing of information between family members, and organization of the booking and flight a pain point for families.

Special mention: Groups
Groups are a special case, but we managed to speak to a large group booking at International and also the Airport staff had some insights.
• Stated desire to be able to ‘split’ a group booking payment
• Merge multiple bookings into a single, manageable MMB holder to organize the trip
• Staff commented on the growing opportunity with large cruise groups –expect flights to be like onboard, full service, but B2B relationship could be nurtured
• Also if they come early or late, major disruption in the airport

4) Guerilla testing
Tested on 5 participants. Asked to go through flow of checking in a return flight for all pax, and upgrade their
own outward baggage allowance by 20kg.

Recommendations
Before you fly: Clear, timely and personalised communication of check-in options and procedure. Demonstrate value.
• From booking onward, use single-issue email comms to clearly communicate the options and next steps for a customer journey.
• Leverage all communication channels for guidance.
• Personalised guidance is key.
• Remove the need for check-in at all?
• Allow more flexible check-in times?
• For the small number that arrive too early, allow through the gates early.
• Communicate the advantages of checking in for international travellers.
• Deep-link into check-in from pre-departure email and other comms.

Checking-in: Empower customers to choose their preferred method, make it streamlined and guided every step of the way
• Facilitate printing for those that prefer it.
• Clearly guided next steps: Use illustration and simple language to communicate.
• Allow the offline access of e-tickets/ boarding passes.
• Communicate reasons if check-in blocked.
• If passengers have already upgraded ancillary items, allow a fast-track.
• Create a tangible benefit for international check-in to be a preferred channel.
• Facilitate the easy sharing of boarding passes amongst families or groups.
• Ensure access to online check-in from third parties.
• Have access to a live person to help guide people through the process.
• Ensure next steps are clearly shown.