The Airline Industry is Making a Comeback with Digitalization

09 August 2021
7 min read

It is a known fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has posed unprecedented challenges for the whole airline industry, but when we look at the history of the airline industry, it is actually not that catastrophic. Coronavirus is merely the latest in a series of challenges that mankind has faced in the epic journey of getting off of the ground. The pandemic may have slowed down the roadmap of the airline industry, but expectedly, things are going back on track. Today, the airlines are on the verge of another crossroads: digitalization of airline and analytics seems to take a bigger part in the whole industry, and airline digital transformation is once again one of the biggest challenges of airlines.

A new turning point in the airline industry: Digitalization

Since ancient times, the notion of flight has inflamed the imagination. The idea goes as back as the Greek myth of Daedalus and Icarus, and finally becomes a reachable idea in the 13th century with the light air balloon, followed by actual airplanes in the 19th century, and the rest is history. Today, flying is the safest and most convenient type of transportation, and the terms are not likely to change in the foreseeable future. 

Yes, with advancement after advancement in airline technologies, the industry has made it durable against many crises, and like in every other industry on the planet, it is now going through another transformation: the digitalization of airline. 

Why is digitalization mandatory for the airline industry?

Yes, going digital as we know is not all technical and mechanical like the elements that brought up the airline industry to what it is today, but since nobody is after taking a trip to Mars (Sorry, Elon and Jeff), we can say that airline has almost reached its limits on the mechanical front. Today, like on every other side of everyday life, digital technologies are what matters in order to have a stable, and even growing operation. Here is how offering a seamless digital experience to passengers helps airlines in three main steps:

Offering passengers the most comfortable experience possible

The consumer of the post-modern times is getting more and more used to handling everything with a couple of taps on a screen, and airline passengers are no exception. According to IATA’s Global Passenger Research from 2018, passengers want a seamless flight experience, and the real challenge is answering to the broad meaning of “seamless”. 

The research reveals that 73% of passengers want to receive text messages or notifications about their flight, luggage, and ticket information, which is more than just booking a seat.

When we think about the fact that the majority of airlines began offering booking services from their mobile apps and websites, the passenger demand may seem too high, but the digital adoption from airlines has been quicker than expected, and these are only the industry standards of today.

So, how can airlines offer a seamless flight experience to their customers in 2021? Here is our answer based on our know-how in the field:

Go omnichannel: One of the biggest trends in software technology, in general, is continuity. Apply this trend to the passenger experience, and you get a booking and in-flight notification system that works on every device, seamlessly. Today’s customer demands to search for a flight on one device and to complete the booking process on another. 

All-in-one experiences: Giving control of the in-flight experience to the passenger is another winning point. Offering passengers extra luggage, in-flight entertainment options, and even meal selections on the booking process brings airlines a more solid and trustworthy look, as well as increasing customer satisfaction.

Self-check-in is a must: In a time where mobile devices have become more unforgettable than wallets, passengers naturally choose the easier way to check-in for flights; via mobile apps. Today, only 18% of passengers prefer conventional check-in methods, while one passenger out of two prefers mobile options. 

Better marketing abilities via direct customer interaction and big data

Being the center provider has many advantages for airlines, but if we need to name the most valuable pro, it would be customer data, and passengers are okay with sharing it. According to IATA’s report, 65% of passengers are willing to share their personal data in exchange for better service. When you add the flight patterns and preferences of the passengers, you get what any business needs the most: the loyalty that comes with a high customer satisfaction rate. 

American Airlines: loyalty revenue vs total income befor taxes

Source: Forbes

In 2019, three major US airlines revealed that loyalty programs have become one of the biggest revenue sources. American Airlines recorded $5.6 billion in loyalty and related revenues in 2019, Delta Air Lines recorded $9.1 billion in loyalty-related revenues, and United Airlines recorded $5.3 billion.

Of course, loyalty is not the only thing that comes with big data; building a marketing strategy that is going to bring the best results is the real deal here. Therefore, we designed our unified airline platform to take advantage of every little detail of the passenger data that exceeds the expectations of data-thirsty marketing teams.

What brings extra money with the digitalization of airline: Ancillary services

Another profit-making advantage of offering an all-in-one experience to customers is the ability to sell ancillary products and services, which is taking a larger space in the revenue pool of airlines, globally. 

Worldwide Estimate of Ancillary Revenue


You can see the importance of ancillary services in the graph above, as well as the pandemic’s unfortunate effect, but looking at the trend, it is obvious that airlines will have to focus more on the area, and doing it a way that passengers like goes with following a unified experience.

Airline is going nowhere, and we are here to help airlines stick around

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicts that, by 2035, 7,2 billion people will regularly board flights. This is double the amount that board today. That said, airlines faced a similar challenge in the 1990s. At that time, airlines could easily adapt by increasing the speed, number, and capacity of their planes. The challenges in the future are qualitatively different. Some call the times that we are in “the digital age”, but for airlines, it should be renamed “the agility age.” 

Here at Tmob, we have been serving one of the most promising airlines in Europe, SunExpress, for many years. When the airline first rang our bell in 2020, it did not have a mobile platform to reach its customers. Within months, we finalized the unified user experience with a brand-new website, mobile app, and smartwatch apps to offer SunExpress passengers what today’s passenger really wants: an ultra-convenient flight experience from the beginning to the end. Of course, the end-user is not the only one that benefits from the digital airline platform, since the platform has panels that give a whole new vision to the airlines as well. The reason we were able to develop a unified digital airline experience for SunExpress within months was our tailor-made, customizable Ubimecs Airline Platform.

Go Fully Digital with Ubimecs Airline Platform

In order to meet higher expectations from your customers, Ubimecs offers an omnichannel commerce platform for an end-to-end travel experience. The platform enables you to create a new passenger experience that is more than an airline ticket: it is also an experience that is comprehensively satisfying from turnstile to plane seat. See what you can get with the Ubimecs Airline Module by visiting our page, or fill out the form below to meet a Ubimecs expert and explore the configuration possibilities.

Who are We?

Tmob | Thinks Mobility is a global technology powerhouse, specialized in digitalization and integration solutions, bringing growth and success to businesses and partners with its innovative SaaS, PaaS, and premium solutions since 2009 with Tmob Turkiye (TR) and Tmob United Kingdom (UK) headquarters.







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